Friday, January 29, 2010

Back Home!!

Have u ever felt a smallest/modest set of 2 idlis or the worst cooked rice to be precious than anything you hold on earth?

Well, I Did, for I’m seeing an idli or sambar after 75 long days of kimchis, Octopuses, raw fish and (“fermented- sour-tasteless-raw-something-something”)

But all said and done, let me summarise my Seoul trip as lucidly as I can.

Best experiences
Ofcourse, my first international flight travel. My traveling alone, though was quite anxious n tensed, it was The experience. Travelling around 3000 kms away from your home, alone, for a period of Long 75 days, to a place where you know nobody or just people whom you know through e-mails. And to your surprise you will find a Japanese sitting next to you in the flight, who then impresses you by speaking to you in Tamil and then gives u an enjoyable time during the transit 3 hrs before boarding the next flight from Hong kong to Incheon airport in Seoul.

Well, I have given enough account of my first flight experience. And, also my first month updates..

Moving on to my days during November 2009. I got my first blow, when my laptop got damaged. Without it, I couldn’t talk to my own people, but it in a way helped me bond with my labmates. I didn’t have a way but to be in lab and use the lab computer. And this helped me work longer as well as spend some time with my labmates. And I learnt that to win somebody’s heart we need to give them our time..Scrabble
Well, I think this blog remains incomplete without mentioning this Scrabble experience. I was to meet Murli Mam( The angel I reffered in one of my blogs!!) for the evening. I made it around 7am and she served me some Indian foods, it was her B’day the day before I met her. She made my tummy full and then we sat for the game.

It was my first time ever to play the Word game. She assured me that I would love the game since I had a flair for learning languages. I learnt the rules from her and she gave me suggestions for several moves. We referred to the Scrabble dictionary and word collection pamphlets to continue the game. She was sharing with me that she met with an accident when she was in US and how she started playing this game then. And later how she made a big team joining her to play together.

It’s a learn and play game. She gave me enough time for my moves since I was a first timer and she helped me win the game. It boosted me to go for another round, but for shortage of time. I promised her I would buy this game in Chennai and start playing with Lenin.

The find of the month was ofcourse, Lekha. She worked in my neighboring lab under another Prof. We used to see each other everyday since we shared the same floor. But we never talked. She had heard that I was a post doctoral fellow from India and I was much senior to her. And I assumed that she was from North India, and they don’t like South Indians. So I better stay away. Later, we were introduced to eachother by Inas, my labmate from Jordan, who is always open to help anybody anytime. To our surprise, It was just a starting trouble may be and we quickly became close.

She started visiting my Room for a tete-tete and we shared some time together almost daily. Then we planned to visit the Seoul Tower ..

Itaewon and Seoul tower

I introduced Saji to Lekha in SNU of education station on that day. We visited Itaewon, a shopping hub, where we can get Indians stuffs from a Foreign food mart. Lekha’s jaws were down throughout finding the Lijjat Pappad and maggi noodles. We bought enough frozen parattas for the week and were hungry enough for a kebab. We visited the Mr.Kebab shop to try the Turkish Kebab. It was fun through out the day and we never missed a single clickable shot.

We reached the destination of the day- Namsan Seoul tower around 4pm.(Namsan??.....) We had to take a cable car to reach the tower or walk the ………until top. There’s a teddy bear museum which exhibits the Korean tradition and culture. Then a lift took us to the top of the tower from where we could see the city of lights. It turned out to be a foggy day and hence we couldn’t see much. There were telescopes available every 100 m, which works by putting the coins for 5mins.

We three musketeers finally had our first trip completed. Several other destinations on pipeline, esp. the Han River including a cruise, and 63 building- of,course watching a movie there in Imax theatre(??) ..

Poor Saji- he was our photographer (who by now has turned professional indeed) and our luggage man..He was relieved in SNU of education st. and Lekha had HER day!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Countdown...

I didn’t know that the following days were going to become so hectic. Since I was left with only 45 days more, I had to really struggle and work hard to bring back at least some data. So I stayed in the lab throughout the night ..burning my midnight oil..I was in continuous working mode 24x7..I’d leave the lab around 3-4 am and come back by 9 am. My tour plans all were stopped abruptly. I started enjoying the delight in seeing some good results.

Our lab was to organise an International conference in Nutrition and Physical activity in Ageing, obesity and cancer (NAPA).. The whole lab was supposed to attend the program in another island of South korea called Jeju. It is supposed to be a dream place not only for the foreigners but for the natives, too. I took a challenge of presenting my work as a poster in this conference. Therefore, I had to double my efforts for the same. With the help extended by my friends there, I first succeeded in my abstract submission. Then, the whole pressure was on me to get a poster done by myself, in 14 days.

Meanwhile I got the shock of my life, when I learnt that Lenin was facing some problems in getting his visa. All these days I had dreamt (rather, determined) that he was coming to take me home, after having some enjoyable time together. I even personally requested to the Lady of the korean Embassy in India for the same. But all in vain…

I stopped visiting places, stopped meeting my friends there.. In fact, I had time only to work for my poster presentation. Finally, we were all ready with our posters printed and all set to attend the conference.

We were to take a domestic flight to the Jeju Island and stay there for 4 days (Dec 12-15) My return flight was on the 16th Dec. Only the chosen ones were to attend the conference. So I was to bid them officially on Dec 11th.

On that day, I was running around as usual, making corrections finally, before printing the poster. I saw people opening a cake (probably for celebrating somebody’s B’day, I guessed). To my surprise, later the lab chief informed me that it was for my farewell and I joined them. Almost all my lab members were available that day and the group looked a crowd. It was embarrassing when they asked me to say some words before cutting the cake. I thanked them for their sincere support and the help they extended to me. They impressed me by presenting a nice gift to me and a tasty sweet potato cake from the Twosome place (a truly awesome place to buy cakes, though quite expensive!).

I was to meet the BK friends for dinner and bid them too. So we - Lekha and myself, joined Room 502 around 9pm. Kesavan and Sampath were there. Hari and Suresh (the real owners of the room) were yet to return from the lab. All of them are pursuing PhD in the College of Agriculture, SNU. Well, about Kesavan, a simple guy from Madurai, who has very humble contacts like Shriya Saran, Nayanthara and others on the Facebook. He is very active and ready to extend help to anyone anytime. Sampath, his own cousin, is always over phone. Yes!, he’s going to get married soon. He tries to impress us with his cooking skills. A new dish everyday, whatever his would-be tells him to do. To be frank he cooks better than me..Hahaha

After a long wait, they arrived, imagining we would have prepared the dinner. They started to cook as soon as they entered. Puri , aloo masala, rice and rasam was the menu. Prabhu, a Post doc from IIT, madras, also joined us. Lekha was wonder-struck to find such an active group, who made us laugh throughout the time..Well, time is something which we forget when we are there. It was already past 11 when we started having food. We had a very hearty dinner. They flattered me by gifting me a farewell present. It was a beautiful thermal-mug with the logo of the university. Lekha joined them in gifting me another beautiful ceramic mug. Around 2 am we left them for the day. They invited me to join them for a dinner on the 15th Dec, if I return from Jeju little early.