Finally I Played (Indoor) Golf!!!!

Hey there

Last weekend was pretty happening for me.. As you can see in my last post here, I attended the Asia Song Festival, a concert of such magnitude for the first time in my life. The day before that, My friend invited me over to meet her best friend. The latter was working in an indoor Golf Club, due to which we were allowed to play golf in there for free 🙂 (since her boss was not around.. hehe.. so nice of her) ..

Anyhoo.. Coming to the post, I played for about 30 minutes and it was really fun.. Before this, I have only seen the golf bat golf clubs and golf balls in movies and with Tiger Woods… For me it was a boring sports played only by the filthy rich people who had nothing else to do to while away their time (may be I was jealous since I could never ever afford one kit.. I remember looking at $2000 golf kits back in Hyderabad, India, wishfully… 😉 … ).. This was the first time I ever could hold one in my own hands.. With a little bit of introductory teaching from my friend, (Who is a good teacher btw, if the lessons could make me hit atleast a few shots right in my first day at golf), I started swinging. First shot, hit the rug.. bad.. second… same way.. third.. i tried to keep the bat club a li’l bit up, to avoid the previous mistakes, and successfully evaded the rug.. but on its way, it was able to “successfully” evade the ball as well.. 🙂 .. After many such shots, finally I could hit a few shots, which could be termed “just decent”.. After the end of our golfing session, there I was with an amused heart and a few lucky shots and a majority of miss-shots..:)

Here are a two pics of me in action.. hehehe

One thing for sure though..  would like to try it out again if I get a chance.. 🙂

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Hak June and Sung Eun

Along with memoirs of true friendships, this post also contains brief references to Prostitution and Illegal Trading. Read along only if you are not offended by any of the above topics. If you belong to the other category, please click http://www.cartoonnetwork.com for an appropriate website. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Rating for this post: NC-17 (No one 17 and under admitted) / PG (Parental Guidance Suggested). Source: http://www.mpaa.org/FlmRat_Ratings.asp🙂

Am just kidding guys… I believe all the readers of my blog are adults.. Read on..

This post is the second in a series dedicated to some of the most beautiful people in my life and I don’t mean just the outsides alone. You can find the first one here. This one is about my Mentor became friend Kim Hak June (Korean: 김학준) and his girlfriend Kim Sung Eun (Korean: 김성은).

Let me start with a funny and “weird” instance that I remember. Seoul is famous for prostitution, thanks to the US Army base here. And there is a US Army Base camped at Yongsan, where Hak June and Sung Eun lives. Once I visited Yongsan and told them that I want to see the red light street in Yongsan (since I never saw one before). Here in Seoul, I cant call it “Red Light Area”. It’s different and i believe it should be called “Pink Light Areas”. Such roads have arrays of rooms with one wall completely made of glass (facing the road), beautifully decorated. Each of these rooms is like a bedroom with a makeup table and a mirror. The sex-workers sit inside them wearing minimal to normal measure of clothing and acts out daily routines like doing a make up in front of the mirror, comb their hair etc. All these rooms have pink curtains in front and is is flanked with a  dim “enticing”??!!?? pinkish glow. Any “customer” who goes there, watches them through the glass walls and “selects” his “friend” for the night. I was really intrigued when i had heard about such a different system and was really longing to see one of such streets. Naughty Naughty Me!!! 🙂 Sung Eun was really bold and told “Kiran if you wanna see.. Lets” and we walked through a smaller version of the above described road, since if we dare to go through the main streets, the sex-workers will come to us and then you know what… 🙂

I first met him as a mentor when I came to SNU as a first semester student and our friendship has been growing ever since. It’s through him, of course, that I came to know of Sung Eun and we three became really good friends, in other words “clicked”. SNU, like many other universities had a tradition of assigning a Korean Mentor to every foreign student admitted here. It’s more important here in Korea due to a social handicap. That is, you cannot survive here (outside SNU), if you don’t know the basics of Korean language. As any newly admitted student, we had to do some bank work like opening an account and filling in all the details for internet banking, academic work like course registration, registering for dormitory, and the initial shopping for all the necessary things etc. could not have been done without his help. Thanks to him, the expected “few difficult months” in the beginning turned out to be not so difficult at all. Thanks bro. Thanks a lot.

Then through him, I met Sung Eun, another wonderful individual. We three became fast friends and months passed by; they are the people I meet the most excluding my lab mates at MWNL, whom I meet every weekday. Hak June even gifted me my first mobile phone in Korea. I still have that wonderful piece of technology with me and obviously it is an integral part of my daily life. Ever since we met, we have been visiting some places and we have also had opportunities to have dinner together. Since the couple stays at Yongsan, I have been there a lot of times and it has one of the biggest railway stations in Korea, as far as I know.

Did I tell you that Sung Eun plays good violin too? She is really good that she was invited to play as a part of a really famous concert at Yonsei University. SNU, Korea University and Yonsei University are called as SKY universities. The letters from the first letter of their names, and these three are the top universities in Korea (Though the other two are incomparable with SNU in the world ranking 🙂 ..). She was like a really kid playing violin amongst really old and thereby experienced people. I was invited for the concert and Hak June and I went to Yonsei University on 10th November 2007 to see her in action. I had uploaded some photographs of the concert, starting from here, in my online photo gallery (press the right arrow when you reach that page to see more photos).

As a dedication to these wonderful people I had also made a video composing of the photographs of that event. You can view the video here, on YouTube.

We three have shared lots of wonderful time together visiting new hangout locations and tasting different cuisines. Sung Eun is really an adroit person in shopping. She knows how to get things and from where. She has taken me to some amazing locations for certain daily-use purchases (I can’t reveal the details here due to some legal issues, and I am NOT kidding, and NO, it’s none of what you are thinking with your “dirty” mind hehe 🙂 🙂 ). From the road, no one can guess that such a shop exists, and I guess you need to be a known customer for the shopkeepers to let you into those clandestine shops. From outside, they are just old not-used-anymore dusty door covered rooms, but inside they are full-fledged shops with selections beyond your imaginations.

I can never forget the time Hak June helped me with a medical emergency I had. Now, don’t worry my readers. Nothing fatal. hehe 🙂 How can I leave you all so soon?? 🙂 He was with me all the time during the hardships I had faced just like my brother. That’s one thing I respect in Koreans. Accepted that its difficult to get accepted into their circle, but once you are in, you are like a family. I mean a real family. Not like those who say “we are like a family” but they mean “like a family only in terms of disagreements, not in terms of mutual prosperity” (A good example would be I*** for those who know what I mean). Hak June was by my side all the time and he even paid for my medicines, though medical bills are pretty high here in Korea. When I requested to take back the money from me, he just smiled and said “Kiran, This is the least I can do. You have paid a lot for the main treatments; Let me get the medicines for you”. So so so kind of him.

Hmm I can actually go on writing about these friends of mine you know, but the fact is, words cannot describe their character. I am proud to call them my best friends (or rather my bro and sis). Cheers to you guys and Cheers to our bond of friendship. Let us be friends for ever..

A Visit to Cheon-An

Hey there,

This post is basically a memory on the visit to my brother’s (Na Min Soo) home last weekend and goes right into my Pensieve (Harry Potter Fame).  If you are someone who likes to visualize places through another person’s eyes based on the descriptions, this post is suited for you. Else, please be my guest and and make some productive use of the 10 minutes you would have spent on reading this post.. 🙂

Something about Na Min Soo.. He is one of the best friends, alias brother, whom I gained from MWNL, my lab. It all started with an invitation from him last month “Hey Kiran. How about visiting my home and having some Chicken which my mom prepares?” I was like.. wow .. sure bro.. why not ?? I knew then that it would be an unforgettable experience to visit a Korean Home (My first by the way) and eat home made food after so long (I miss my family… 😦 ..) Due to exams and other commitments, we could not make it during the whole of last month but we decided to go last weekend, since it was the weekend right after our exams and we thought that this would be a good way to lay off some summer heat. As an icing to the cake, the day coincided with his dad’s birthday as well. What a pleasant set of coincidences. 🙂 It was Minsoo, Dongmyoung (another one of my good friends from SNU) and me, in Minsoo’s Matiz on a bright Sunday morning of June the 15th, 2008.

I was apprehensive about talking to his dad at first since i was not really good at Korean and here in Korea, respect is a must. Hence i was afraid if I would make some mistake and talk something thats not appropriate. But to my surprise, the first words Minsoo’s dad uttered after meeting me were in English. What a relief.. He made me feel really comfortable and after some time, i started behaving like the regular “non-stop-talking” me .. 🙂

As in the past, after coming to Korea, I did many things for the first time in my life. Today was not left out either. As a surprise to me, we decided to have Sam-Gyeop-Sal (삼겹살), Pork fried on coal, a very popular Korean Food and one of my favorites. The element of surprise did not lie in the food we ate, but where we ate. We decided to go to a stream originating from the mountain and cook the food on a coal fire right across it. Since it was summer, there was not much water in the stream and hence that removed all the hindrances of a nature friendly lunch. We went to the stream and found many many families and couples whiling away their Sunday afternoon in the pleasant warmth of nature. We found a suitable place for our “adventure” and the dad started making the food. We had brought Kimchi (Something like Indian Pickle), Fruit Juices, Soju (Traditional Korean Alcohol – 20% strength), Rice and Two kinds of meat. The lunch was splendid, thanks to dad, and we really enjoyed the nature friendly, on-the-stream eating experience. It was the first time for me to experience such a thing and I have taken some photographs which i will upload soon. I still have them in my D40x and hence the delay. We were given live entertainment by children playing in the water and doing their activities. It was a memorable lunch indeed.

After the lunch, we went to dad’s work place. Its a factory that makes cotton yarn. It was the first time for me to visit such a factory as well. When i saw the levels of automation, right from the feeding of raw cotton to the finished output, I, for a second was happy to be an engineer. The only human intervention that was needed was for the switching on and off and for occasional maintenance.  I was really impressed with the beauty of the machinery built by engineers like many of us, and as usual i took some photographs as well ( I never go anywhere with my D40x these days.. Am just addicted to the sweet li’l electronic marvel. 🙂 .. )

We had cold-ice coffee to beat the summer and went sight seeing around the industry campus. When i was looking into the lengths and breadths of Korean Suburbs i was able to find that they still depended to some extend on Agriculture. There were lush green fields all around me with small houses flanking them. This was a huge contrast compared to the tall sky scrappers in Seoul. I felt home. Seriously.. I felt as if i was in Viyoor (My hometown)  looking out of the window of my room, which opens the view to lush green fields as well. At that moment i really really really felt homesick. Thank god i would be visiting home sweet home in less than a month from now. Oh god.. One year passed by.. Cant believe that i am one year shy of being a professional engineer at the job i could only have dreamt of, one year ago.

Anyways.. coming back to my post from the small diversion… There was another reason i felt home actually. After a one year gap, there i was, in a place resembling my home town, with two siblings and one dad., smelling the fresh countryside air, far away from the hustles and bustles of the busy Seoul Life. I wanted to buy a home an stay there, starting right then as a matter of fact.. 🙂 I was missing my home to that extent..

Since Minsoo knew that i never travelled in a Korean Train before and that I had really wanted to travel in one, if possible today, after departing from the factory, we went to a train station and he bought us, Dongmyoung and me the train tickets back to Seoul. I was really happy. It did feel like a big-bro buying the tickets and giving it to his younger bro saying “Here Kiran. Let your first train journey be a gift from me”.. So kind of him .. BTW .. the word “Kind” is used extensively in Korea as an adjective to a person. I haven’t used that word to describe my friends, even once in India. I guess that’s just Korean English..

Since we had about 2 hours before the departure of our train, we came back to Minsoo’s home and continued the birthday celebrations. We ate Tiramisu cake and watermelon and took some photo printouts using the hand-held USB photo printer Minsoo had gifted his dad today. Post, we started off for Cheon-An railway station to catch our train back to Seoul and with a pack of Walnut Cookies (traditionally popular with its origins in Cheon-An) gifted to us. En-route to Seoul I was able to take some pretty decent shots of Building 63 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/63_Building) , from an angle I had never had a chance to see it from.  Will upload them too soon @ my photo gallery in Picasa.

And yeah since we were so full with all the food, today we could not taste mom’s Chicken dish. Minsoo told me that he would eat my share in the night, on my behalf.. I am sure it was delicious.. wasn’t it Minsoo? 🙂 I hope i can taste it the next time i visit Cheon-An

Thank a million Minsoo.. Thank you for this memorable day where i felt a part of the wonderful family you have..

Kiran

PS : starting my internship at Samsung this thursday. I would be working in System R&D Center in Telecommunication Networks @ Samsung head quarters in Suwon. Will post about it once i start the internship. Pretty excited i must say. A first step to corporate life before starting my dream job 🙂