Seoul Matters

Seoul, South Korea  some years ago.  During my trip to Seoul, I visited Deoksugung Palace, also know as Deoksu Palace, with a history dating back to the  1400’s.

Key photographs below include Deoksu Palace, statue of King Sejong, the Heungcheonsa Bell & Water Clock. While I am no historian, there is a ton of history on the Palace available on the web.

Walking around town, I spotted a man, a real  friend of sparrows –  was amazed watching those birds eat from his hand.. see below.

Photographs apart & strictly for the stout-hearted only, I would recommend  Sam Gae Tang, a form of soup which  consists of a whole young chicken stuffed with rice, ginseng & other herbs…I know not what. It is an experience!

I was also able to attend a great service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church founded by Pastor David Yonggi Cho – it is the world’s largest congregation.

Korea has an efficient subway system to get you across the city – make sure you don’t lose your English-Korean map though! 🙂

 

Statue of King Sejong the Great

Notice the high rise buildings in the background

The Heungcheonsa Bell 

Borugak Jagyeongnu , the Water Clock

Multiple Rocket Launcher

Friend of Sparrows

Calligrapher at work

Yoido Full Gospel Church

Namaste India.

The things we may ask & do when you visit our beloved country – India.

I have taken the liberty of using ‘we’, though no generalisation is intended!

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We will ask where your from.

We will ask about your country.

We will ask if you like our country.

We will ask if you like spicy food.

We will ask if you are married.

We will ask your age.

We will ask your spouse’s age.

We will ask how many children you have & won’t be embarrassed when you tell us you are not married to begin with.

We will ask if your home is your own or if it’s rented.

*  *  *  *  *

We will ask if you like our Bollywood.

We will get you hooked onto Kolaveri Di. (Holy Cow-u)

We will tell you we are an emerging superpower.

We will make sure you are enlightened that English words like mantra, avatar, guru, mulligatawny, juggernaut & catamaran have their roots in India.

We will show you how to calmly cross the road during mad traffic.

We will teach you to enjoy it as an adventure sport, which is free at that.

We will teach you to play kabaddi…the art of pulling leg.

We will ask you to take the auto rickshaw for local travel.

We will take you to Fabindia for shopping & hope you make your mind up in one shop.

*  *  *  *  *

We will teach you to say Namaste.

We will ask if you had tiffin.

We will ask if you prefer milk chai or filter kaapi & hope you will confirm you enjoy both.

We will take you home, give you idli & red chilli chutney & hope you can understand our fiery spirit of hospitality.

We will give you samosa to eat & forget to mention it has sharp green chillies within.

We will offer you cold water when you jump 5 feet in the air.

We will offer you ladoo or jalebi to cool the tongue.

We will recommend you try betel nut & paan.

We will not warn you not to smile after that.

*  *  *  *  *

We will tell you (without your asking) about our relatives – immediate, distant, in-between, mother’s side, father’s side …& watch you pass out.

We will discuss wines like there is a vineyard in our backyard.

We will tell you about our religious diversity.

We will patiently explain the meaning of Karma & Maya to you. Including the right pronunciation.

We will get you to join Yoga classes.

We will recommend a bout of Ayurveda.

We will not meet you during rahu kaal.

We will ask that you don’t meet us during rahu kaal.

We will insist on visiting you in hospital – does not matter that you have a headache & would prefer not to meet anyone – we have to show you we care.

*  *  *  *  *

We will take a photo with you to ensure we remember your visit.

We will ask that you do not gift us aromatic candles to express your appreciation of our hospitality.

We will show you the number of candles we have been gifted so far. Infact a candle shop is in plan.

If you insist on giving us a gift, a villa or two in the South of France or Hawaii (or both) should be fine.

*  *  *  *  *

We will do all this & more when you visit India.

Please do visit our country.

Else we may miss an opportunity to ask, tell & do all of the above.

Finally…it is a fact that you would be richer at the end of your visit with a taste of India’s openness, warmth & hospitality!

And…we would have taught you the true meaning of living. Indian style!

 

 

Viva Estonia!

Rewind – few years ago we travelled from Helsinki to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia by the Viking XPRS cruise-ferry. Tallinn is just about 80km away  from Helsinki by sea.

The incredible medieval charm of Tallinn Old Town is an experience never to be forgotten. You can spend the entire day just walking through the Old Town. Quaint alleyways with something of history lurking at every turn; streets & buildings with a touch of the medieval; cafés & souvenir stores…it’s simply beautiful!

While in Tallinn, make sure you visit the Olde Hansa, a medieval themed restaurant which will make you feel like you stepped into another era entirely! 

Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn below, through my lens…

 

Love Locks of Lithuania

Captured below are love locks I spotted  when  I visited Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.  I was seeing this for the very first time & was fascinated. The story goes that  couples have their names or initials  engraved on these locks &  throw the keys away. I’m given to understand this is very popular in Europe & America . Love  locks symbolise a couples eternal love – I saw several of these & must confess I found this to be a really cute custom.

Here’s wishing all these couples a lifetime of happy togetherness!  May they never have to go fishing for the keys!

This stream holds the keys to many a heart

The birthright of every Indian

It happens only in India.

It is one of the most sacred questions of our land.

It is a question where anyone not even remotely close to you can come up boldly & ask.

It is a sort of consitutional right. It can be asked of anybody.

The right to information. The right to ask. Even if it’s none of our business.

THE sacred question“Any good news?”

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If you are going steady, I  want to know if you will get married.

If you say yes, I want to know when.

If you get married, I want to know if there is any good news of a child.

If you have the first child, I am deeply curious to know about when to expect good news of the second, &  third…

*  *  *  *  *

I may not know you too well, but I still want to know. I need to know.

I appear in many forms.

I am your neighbour.

I am your second cousin’s aunt from her father’s side.

I am your co-worker.

I am your elder sister’s mother-in-law.

I am your maid.

I am your distant relatives step-aunt you never knew existed.

I am your driver’s wife.

I am the father-in law of your co-sister.

I am your best-friend’s colleague.

I am you.

*  *  *  *  *

You meet me everywhere.

You have to tell me.

I have the right to know.

Though I don’t know you. That hardly matters.

*  *  *  *  *

Either ways, this is how we love to keep updated about good news in everyone’s life in India.

Which is neither our concern or chief joy.

Just some gosssip to make our boring days more entertaining.

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If you think it happens elsewhere with the same measure of scrutiny, let me know. I am open to being corrected.

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Hey, you been married awhile, any good news? 🙂