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A Korean Winter – Part 7

Seogwipo submarine

When the Korea trip was being planned, one thing that had caught our attention was the Seogwipo Submarine. The possibility of being able to board a submarine and actually go under sea water surface was something that caught all our imagination. Therefore, Seogwipo Submarine was definitely an item on our agenda. Although we read mixed reviews on the internet, we decided to go ahead.

Getting a seat in the submarine was expensive. We spent around 300 Brunei Dollars for the ticket. Was it worth it? It depends on the individual.  For people like us who have no experience scuba diving or any kind of diving under the sea, this was definitely a novel experience. However, I suppose those who are used to more adventurous underwater activities might find this not worth the trouble and the money.

As we dipped under the sea surface, a diver swam by the side of the windows and fed the fish. We saw some coral and what looked like a shipwreck. The commentary was all in Korean, which we really did not mind. The trip managers took our photo and we could buy it for a price once it was framed. A couple of photos were given free. All in all, it was a memorable experience.submarine.JPG

The evening was spent at the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market, sampling delicious street food. Korean street food is, in a word, great. As with Korean food in general, very filling too. We bought some mementos from there.streetfood

Jungmun Daepo Coast & Jusangjeolli Cliff

The next day, we travelled to Jeju city, and on the way visited a truly remarkable place, Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff. It is a spectacular volcanic rock formation at the southern coast of Jeju Island. It was created when the lava from Hallasan Mountain erupted into the sea of Jungmun. The coast is dotted with blackish, rock pillars of rectangular or hexagonal shapes. The shapes are exquisite, as if carved by stonemasons. jungmun1This is a must-see attraction in Jeju Island, one that is very popular among tourists. The park near the cliff is well-maintained with majestic trees and some stone structures. We left the place with great photos and memories of the extra ordinary rock formations.

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A Korean Winter- Part 4

Ichullbong Seongsan was a refreshing start to the day, and we got hungry very soon. Leaving  the Sunrise Peak, we walked to the main road by the side of which many coffee shops looked very inviting. We did not go to any of them, but did go to a more sophisticated-looking restaurant at the corner.

The smiling owner came to take our orders, and we ordered coffee. The smile vanished quickly. She said something in Korean, a bit stiffly. Realizing that we were foreigners, she gesticulated wildly, to convey that it was not possible to have coffee. We were perplexed.

Then off she went, and brought a menu. She pointed to all the food listed. We understood that she expected us to order one of those listed in the menu, and obliged by ordering a sea food soup. Still we were at a loss as to why we could not order coffee.

It was only later that we came to know that coffee was complimentary in that restaurant. Not only there, we soon found out. There are many restaurants in Jeju Island that give free coffee, along with your food. We found that such a sweet thing!

But the sea food soup that came was jumbo size, even though we had ordered for just one person. The five of us had to work hard to munch through the very crunchy octopus, squid, abalone, scallops, mussel, crab and the shrimps.  It was a meal fit for kings!seafood soup

That is one more unique thing about Jeju island. Food served is aplenty. They feed you like there is no tomorrow. Often we made the mistake of ordering one dish each, when one per two people would have been more than enough. But then, with such mouth-watering Korean recipes, we could not complain. Korean food, in fact, was one of the highlights of our trip, and something we will always remember fondly.

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Life on stilts

Life
Stands on stilts,
Propping me up,
Balanced.
Each little prop,
Warts and all,
So needed,
So treasured.
The chemicals and the humans,
The talks and the hugs,
Words written in books,
Said by men and women,
The sky God,
And His angels,
Beings living and breathing
Around me,
Phone calls from mother,
And the talks on the couch,
A warm bed and a drink,
Props – one and all.
Each one so fragile,
Weak and transient:
Yet it’s my need
To believe in them.
Life is a balancing act
On stilts and props,
Across a chasm.
I dare not look down!

 

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Misogyny in Kerala

 

My home state Kerala is a contradiction of sorts. you will see higher education institutions everywhere, where both men and women slog through their curriculum to achieve academic success. All over the world, Kerala men and women work in jobs that require intelligence and hard work.

In terms of natural endowment Kerala is a fortunate land. It is lush green most of the year, there is ample rain fall, the heat is not unbearable, and there is a huge number of tourist attractions. Moreover, it is a place where a tiny village will have a church, a mosque and a temple side by side, and they coexist by and large peacefully.

Kerala’s political system  has always been fodder for cartoonist. It is partly because of the darkly comic nature of kerala politics and partly because of Keralites’ penchant for sarcasm (which by they way, my friend tells me is a sign of superior intelligence). So, most political pronouncements are twisted with a sarcastic flavour, and the Keralites love to bits.

Oops! I have not started on my topic yet! Misogyny in Kerala. I am at a loss as to where to start.

Kerala misogyny #1

I have always wondered whether Kerala men have a slightly elevated testosterone or libido. What else explains the kind of ogling and groping that a girl is subjected to on a bus? As a person who has travelled to many other countries around the world, I have encountered this kind of behaviour only in Kerala. Is it a manufacturing defect in Kerala men that they have to grope and ogle and salivate when they see girls? Of course, I have to say this is not applicable to all Kerala men, but a disconcertingly high proportion of them do behave like sex-starved maniacs.

Kerala misogyny #2

If you did not know, Kerala has its own brand of Christianity known as Roman Catholic Syrian Christian (RCSC). When I had to fill in all my application forms I had to fill in RCSC. I had always wished if I could fill in something like agnostic or just ‘no religion, only spirituality’, or just plain ‘humanity’. Any way, till date, RCSC men elevate and justify misogyny to unprecedented heights. Women in our religion is a ‘property’ to be given away after a certain age. The kind of care and investment in girls is not half as that in boys. Boys, after all, are the inheritors of the land, and the continuation of the family line. Girls are just a liability. They have to paid money to marry them off. After marrying them off, they are not considered part of the parental family. They are outsiders, a part of a family that has been hitherto strangers to them

Kerala misogyny #3

The biggest atrocity that still persists despite a court order against it, is the dowry system.  It is not enough that the girl is educated, has a job, and is smart, but her parents have to shell out a substantial amount for her to get married. In the marriage market, if you want to be an attractive buy, the money has to jingle! The most unfair part of the whole thing is, the girl will not be given any share in the parental property. Just the ;dowry, which will usually be a paltry sum compared to the family’s assets, is given to the girl.

Kerala Misogyny #4

Forget about all these! Have you seen a married couple going to visit the girl’s family. The girl’s parents will greet and entertain the boy like he is visiting royalty. He is given tea, and snacks and what not. But how about the girl? She has to enter the kitchen straight away and make the tea for her husband. NO one, even in her own house, will treat her as special. forget about her husband’s house. There also, her job is to make tea for a husband and in – laws and cook in the kitchen. No one considers the girl as a guest to be taken care of, anywhere. No special treatment for her.

Kerala Misogyny #5

Or should I call it hypocrisy? If you enter a bus in Kerala, there are separate seats for ladies and men. You go to a church you will see ladies and men are on different sides. In both cases, instead of looking where the bus is going, or taking part in the church services at least some of the men will be ogling the women on the other side.

Kerala misogyny #6

In most households in Kerala, if the woman is working, the husband has got a rare fortune: a maid who actually pays her boss. Think of it. whatever she earns she will give the man, and then do all the household work. What more does a man need? However, his inferiority complex will not allow him to appreciate her contribution to the family kitty.

The misogyny that one encounters in Kerala is countless. For now, I would like to stop. Please let me know your feedback.