Saturday, 17 November 2012

K-drama--- Personal Taste 개인의 취향


Personal Taste
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick lit.
Lead Actors: Son Ye Jin and Lee Min Ho
I started watching this drama for exactly two reasons: 1. Son Ye Jin, who is among my favorite female actor and 2. Lee Min Ho, who is my favorite male actors and also I love him. Which brings me to my next point which is this: there will be a lot of gushing over Lee Min Ho so if you're one of those people who are tired of all the Min Ho madness (I judge you though) or whatever, you have been warned. And there will be lots of pictures because (a) Lee Min Ho (reason enough for me, honestly) and (b) I adore this show! And oh, none of the pictures are mine; I've taken them all from the net.

Anyways, so intro. Personal Taste, also known as Personal Preference and Gae In's Taste and 개인의 취향 is a 2010 South Korean drama that spans around 16 episodes of one hour each. I am not proud to say that despite being aware of this series existence for two whole years, I only got around to watching it this year. I think I was putting it off because there were always all those deadlines and exams and whatnots and I wanted anything that had Son Ye Jin (The Classic and A Moment To Remember girl) and Lee Min Ho (do I even give his intro? In short, the Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter guy) justice. Of course, when I did get around to watching it, I realised that the series is such a mood lifter that you can just watch it anytime!

I loved the series, not only because it has two of my favorite actors ever but also because it has been beautifully played out. I fell in love with everything--the music, the acting, the locations, the way the story unravels. And it is hilarious in places, heart-warming in others and even manages to make you shed a tear every now and then.

The story is basically this: The story's title character, Gae In lives alone in her family house Sanggonjae that was made by her architect dad who now lives in UK. Gae In, it seems, lives in constant fear of her dad, not because he is some psychopath but because he has always been distant with her ever since her mother's death and Gae In (who is in her late 20s when Personal Taste begins) is eager to make him proud (Robin Scherbatsky, anyone?). She is a furniture designer, or an aspiring one, who is messy, disorganised, a push-over but has is also naive and has the heart of gold. The usual. Oh, and she is also a lazy dresser.

The story begins with Gae In being dumped by her rich architectural firm heir boyfriend Chang Ryul and she later on finds that her best friend and roommate (or ex-best friend and ex-roommate) In Hee is marrying Chang Ryul in a lavish wedding ceremony the next day.

No, wait. That is not how the story begins, no. We do get a glimpse of Lee Min Ho as Jin Ho (and thank heavens) who is 1. organised, 2. an aspiring architect eager to revive his late dad's name, 3. devoted to his mom, 4. engaged to a whiny girl who he clearly doesn't care for, 5. is the arch enemy of Chang Ryul, 6. doesn't like Gae In and 7. somehow unintentionally ends up giving Gae In the wrong signal that he is gay.

Anyways, so both Chang Ryul's company and Jin Ho's company decide to fight for the a very important architectural project belonging to the Dam Art Center. Jin Ho finds out somehow that the Director of the Dam Art Gallery is a fan of some professor who once built a really cool house but then somehow, for some reason unknown, didn't let it be open for public viewing. The professor is now in UK and that mysterious house, unavailable to public, is now occupied by his daughter. Surprise, surprise, it is Gae In and her house Sanggonjae. Gae In, whose friend has load her house (she really is tooooo naive and forgiving), is in a big financial crunch and now that even In Hee has moved out (duh), she needs a new roommate. Enters Jin Ho. Gae In takes him in because she really needs the money and because she still thinks Jin Ho is gay (very Dostana you think?) except that initially Jin Ho doesn't know that she thinks he is gay. Later on, however, he plays along because he realises that she won't let a hetrosexual guy live with her alone in the house. And.... they fall in love. I am not telling the entire story here because that'll just take too long!

Okay, time for a character list.. I wanted to start with Lee Min Ho because, you know, he is Lee Min Ho ('nuff said) but since this is also called 개인의 취향 or Gae In's Taste, I'll have to begin with Gae In, which isn't that much of a problem with me because it's played by Son Ye Jin.

Park Gae In

 Son Ye Jin plays the title character of Park Gae In, and might I add, plays her beautifully. The make up people clearly have done a great job, making Son Ye Jin look almost plain (I doubt it's possible to make her look plain).
They made Son Ye Jin look like this, imagine! 
 Like mentioned earlier, she is this naive, kind and sweet person, who lacks self-confidence and is ready to help everyone. In fact, she almost seems unable to say "no". There have been many characters similar to her in films and tv, but none of them that I've seen have been portrayed as nicely as Gae In by Son Ye Jin. She is also kind of pathetic in love. In the sense that she doesn't even realise that her boyfriend doesn't care a straw for her and is about to marry her "best friend". She runs out in her sweatpamnts to meet him on dates because she doesn't want him to wait and so on. Not good. As the story progresses, we really see Gae In grow as a person.

She is in many ways a very cliched character and I suppose without the right actor to play her or the right script, concept, direction, Gae In would have just been a cliche herself, nice and ugly-duckling-turned-swan boring girl shoved into the background in her own story because of mundane-ness but thank heavens that she isn't! Gae In manages to be something new--i.e., real. Because I suppose that despite being that kind and giving, you realise that she is kind of pathetic and isn't kind to herself at all. And she makes a very realistic transition in both her appearance and character in these 16 episodes. I think one of the reasons I really liked Gae In's character was because I am a little like her except that I am not pretty (what? It's not my fault! I mean, THE Son Ye Jin plays her!) and I am definitely not kind. Or giving. Or modest so none of that is a lie or a weird mind trick to fish out compliments.

Jeon Jin Ho

I luuurrrrrrve Lee Min Ho smiling/laughing/generally happy!

 I finally get to write about Lee Min Ho, yay! Apart from the fact that I adore him (okay, "adore" is a light word), he really is a good actor and I was very happy that did such a great job as Jeon Jin Ho. First of all, Jin Ho is very different from Gu Jun Pyo, he's more mature and way more focused. And intelligent in the sense that he, I am sure, would get his phrases right. Wait, more pictures of Lee Min Ho!!

Jin Ho is a twenty-something architect. His dad was an architect who used to work in  before Chang Ryul's evil dad tricked him and stole his company and his house, leaving Jin Ho's family considerably poor. It is implied that Jin Ho's dad couldn't take the back-stabbing and died shortly. All that happens way before the events of Personal Taste begin and we know that Jin Ho and Chang Ryul (and their families) are sworn enemies. Jin Ho is a workaholic, mainly because it seems that he wants to bring back his dad's name in the architectural world, setting up a new firm called M-Constructions. If his mom is to be believed he has pushed himself extremely hard throughout his school and college dreams to achieve this goal and we later find out that he even let go of his college girlfriend because he was so work-driven. And of course, he is a neatness freak.

He lives with his mom (he is an only child), who he is very close to and his extremely whiny, irritating fiance also lives in their house (separate rooms, one can tell by his attitude). He doesn't care for the annoying fiance and clearly only agrees to put up with her because his mom wants him to.

He only cares about his work (and his mum), so much that he doesn't mind lying to Gae In just to move into Sanggonjae and steal the house's blueprints. But he is essentially a nice guys and falls in love with Gae In and doesn't, in fact, use his insider's information about Sanggonjae to win the Dam Art Gallery Project bid.

Lee Min Ho (*swoon*) does a brilliant job here! I don't even care if he's lying to Gae In, oh but that's probably because it's him! But really, he gives Jin Ho's character a depth that can easily be ignored (and would ruin the character).

Han Chang Ryul
 Actor Kim Ji Seok plays the negative character of Han Chang Ryul. Actually, I am not entirely sure if Chang Ryul is an all and all negative character. Sure, he is negative in the beginning when he, you know, dumps Gae In calling her a "rain soaked puppy", tries to marry In Hee behind Gae In's back, crawls back to Gae In when he feels like getting some TLC (not caring about how Gae In will deal with it), tries to break up Jin Ho and Gae In, wins over work projects because of his sneaky antics and so on. Enough to hate a guy. But then he is also shown to have a much more humane side than his evil father. He is a womaniser just like his father, but at the same time, he is shown to love all his dad's ex-wives when the dad himself has just discarded one woman to move onto the next. Chang Ryul even calls each and every one of those women "mother" and is shown to genuinely care for them and love them.

And he lets go of Gae In (finally) right in the last episode. I do, however, still get the feeling that he wants Gae In for silly reasons like she's going out with his rival, he himself needs a rebound and because his dad wants him to. Chang Ryul is a much more mixed character than his dad and In Hee, showing glimpses of being a good guy once in a while but then sometimes rebounding to his mean self. Somewhere down the line, he agrees to "fight with bare wrists" and eventually when he does lose to Jin Ho, he isn't bitter about it either. He is someone I didn't like, obviously, but couldn't bring myself to out and out hate him many times as well.

Kim In Hee

Frankly, I didn't like her character much (read: at all). And no, it's not just because Kim In Hee is such a vile person, it's also because I don't like people like her. Oh, she's realistic alright. I've got no problems with Wang Ji Hye or her how she has played this character out, I just don't like In Hee, the character. She is supposed to Gae In's best friend since childhood and lives with her. Apparently, when she was in school, both her parents died and she had no where to go. That's when Gae In, her classmate, stepped in and offered her to stay at her place like her, almost like sisters. As they grew up, In Hee became popular among guys (even the guys that Gae In liked), being the "pretty one", as we see with the whole Chang Ryul episode. It almost seems to me that despite snubbing Gae In all her (In Hee's) life, and basically making Gae In feel that she herself is the pretty one, furthering Gae In's lack of self-confidence, it is she who is insecure of Gae In. I say this because it almost seems as if her sole aim in life is still the guy that Gae In seems even remotely interested in (despite being told that Jin Ho is gay, she relentlessly tries to seduce him just because she sees how close Gae In is with him).

Another reason why I am sure she's insecure of Gae In is that she even confronts Gae In, accusing her of giving sympathy to her as a child and being kind just because she wanted to show poor, orphan In Hee up. So yes, she's twisted. What is interesting is that while she claims to have vehemently hates Gae In all her life and to have, it would seem, to dedicate her life into stand Gae In up in return, Gae In has very different versions of their friendship. Despite the fact that In Hee stole her boyfriend, Gae In remembers small things about In Hee and her friendship that makes it difficult for Gae In to hate In Hee wholeheartedly. Gae In keeps on recounting little incidents to Jin Ho throughout the series about In Hee and herself like how when she, Gae In, would get into trouble with her dad, In Hee would step up and defend her. At one point, while Gae In is suffering from menstrual cramps (and poor Jin Ho is helpless and a teensy bit freaked out), Gae In tells him, "Every time I had period cramps, In Hee did this (massaging her tummy) for me. Mother's hand is medicine, Baby has a potbelly, she'd sing like that. Because we had times like that, even though I should hate her, so I can shake it off and get back up, I just can't hate her." I suppose all these memories are a bigger indication to what sort of a person Gae In is more than anything else.

Lee Young Sun and Noh Sang Jun

I love them both! :D :D

Okay, so Lee Young Sun is Gae In's other friend and apparently the only one who doesn't use Gae In (not counting Jin Ho and Do Bin). She's slightly older than Gae In, is married with a child and is sort of a maternal-plus-crazy-best-friend figure to Gae In. Jo Eun Ji is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e as Young Sun! I have seen that many shows these days are laying emphasis on bromance, which I love, I do but I was so happy to see some real, healthy, happy female bonding. Such a relief to see that all people don't think that all the women basically go around each others' backs and bitch about each other and plot to ruin their friends (Oh, In Hee!). Gae In and Young Sun's friendship is true and strong and very sweet.
Like Gae In, Young Sun also believes that Jin Ho, Sang Jun and are all gay and that Jin Ho and Sang Jun are a couple. Not that I blame her.
Sang Jun is older to Jin Ho and works in his office, often is the voice of reason and at times, cannot see beyond his greed for the project either. But I liked his character nonetheless. Who wouldn't?

Sang Jun and Young Sun's chemistry is amazing and I love them for providing the dose of comic relief and fun.

Choi Do Bin

Much as I am a fan of Lee Min Ho and nothing, as far as I am concerned, beats him in this (or any other) show, I was really, really impressed with the character of Do Bin. Like many shows that deal with the topic of homosexuality, Personal Taste also brings in a gay character. This character is Dam Art Gallery's often melancholy but nice Director played by Ryoo Seung Ryong. He falls in love with Jin Ho (can't blame him, Jin Ho is played by Lee Min Ho after all) and his unrequited love for him, and how he deals with it with so much sophistication is especially touching when foiled against the likes of Chang Ryul and In Hee. What I really liked about the portrayal of Do Bin was that he doesn't wear flower patterns, super-loud colours, doesn't walk with a sway--in short, does none of the things as per body language that gay men supposed to do (which, funnily, Sang Jun, a heterosexual character pretending to be gay does). This just shows that gay people aren't anything strange or different or anything; they're people and their dressing sense need not depend on their sexual orientation.

I loved all the scenes where we see a beautiful friendship evolve between Do Bin and Gae In. He is such a sophisticated, and more importantly, a good human being who, sadly, thinks himself to be strange and is in constant search of acknowledgement of who is he and love. He definitely is my favorite character in Personal Taste (okay, apart from Jin Ho, but that's also partly because that's Lee Min Ho) and more often than not, I just want to give him a bear hug and tell him that it's okay to be "different". The only thing I wasn't happy about was that his is the only character that doesn't getting a happy ending, or even a closure.

The Parents

Chung Ryul's Dad-- I hate him. He is evil personified and he has a creepy laugh. Hats off Ahn Suk Hwan for making me hate this character as much as I do. He is everything a villain is supposed to be--unscrupulous, cheater, doesn't care about his only son's happiness, bribes people, womaniser. And he remains that way till the very end.

Jin Ho's Mom-- First of all, she is pretty. I just had to say that. She's very close to her only son, Jin Ho, whom she loves a lot and blah blah. I just never understand two things: 1. How does she fail to see that her beloved son, who she wants to see happy and all that usual stuff (they're really close), doesn't care at all for that whiny fiance and is, in fact, irritated by her? Why force your son to be married to someone he claerly cannot stand if you love him that much and all? and 2. Why does she disapprove of Gae In just because she sees her with Chang Ryul? Honestly, that's not even a good reason.

Gae In's Dad-- He makes an appearance pretty much in the end and doesn't live upto my expectations. At all. Throughout the series, his image is built in our heads as this grumpy, perfectionist genius who is nearly (if not completely) impossible to please. Gae In starts shaking like she's seen a ghost the second her dad is mentioned in front of her. Everyone else talks about this almost-mythical Teacher Park as if he were a demi-god and values his opinion and skills in architecture as supreme. And we see a short man
(or perhaps I'm just measuring him in terms of Lee Min Ho's height, which is really tall) and while the shortness isn't the problem (I know lots of people who aren't tall but carry an aura), his personality is. The man doesn't look impressive, neither does he act it. He doesn't seem to have a sense of authority that is so important to this character and I am left disappointed.

  Na Hye Mi and Kim Tae Hoon

These two characters, more than anything, are agents of comic relief and confusion. Choi Eun Seo plays the crazy younger fiance Hye Mi who whines and wears designer clothes and basically tries to suffocated a very disinterested Jin Ho. This she does to the extent of crashing a private party just because she thinks that it won't look nice if Jin Ho is date-less (which he isn't), and when Jin Ho tries to escort her off the premise, she doesn't hesitate in shedding mascara laden tears.

 Im Seul Ong is so cute as Tae Hoon. He is in love with Hye Mi but feels he doesn't deserve her so he tries to make Jin Ho love her because he wants to see her happy. Awww, you say? Not really. Because I am sure if Jin Ho showed an once of interest in her, he'd just be jealous.

Okay, now it's time for the best scenes of Personal Taste according to me (well, obviously...this is my blog!). See, I love all scenes with Lee Min Ho in it but moving beyond that bit, the ones that I've listed are the ones that I really liked. Just a little note that when I say the "best scenes", I don't necessarily mean the happy ones.

1. Game Over!

I love this scene. I made me happy. It made my head reel. It made me giddy. Gae In, who is in love with Jin Ho but thinks he's gay, wants to take revenge from Chang Ryul by seducing him and dumping him (don't ask me; it's her plan!) agrees that when and if Jin Ho ever says "game over", she'll leave all pretense and revenge-taking. So when she is on a date with the ex, Jin Ho cannot stand any longer, says "game over", goes over to her and kisses her. The way I just said all that is highly romanticized. But the scene is actually really sweet.

2. The engagement scene in Episode 16... Because I don't want to ruin something, I won't tell you what it was.

3. Since I seem to be listing the cute moments of our protagonists, I shall also include the scene where Jin Ho Googles up how to relieve menstrual cramps when he sees Gae In in pain. Aww. What roommate does that for the other? I want one!

4. I enjoyed all the scenes which emphasize on the growing friendship between Do Bin and Gae In. And how desperately he wants to make her smile. Go Do Bin!

5. The fishing scene with Do Bin and Jin Ho. Oh, Lee Min Ho.

6. This is perhaps the most beautiful scene in this show. Jin Ho and Gae In (still thinking Jin Ho is gay) go over to a river bank and Gae In makes traces with her index finger on Jin Ho's back without telling him what she's doing. She is basically tracing out alphabets and she silently writes a wish saying that if Jin Ho is born again, could he please have the ability to love women in his next life? I love how she accepts her love for him but also accepts his inability to love her.

7. The scenes where Gae In dresses up like a guy to spend time with Jin Ho in an attempt to make him feel better.

8. I love the wooden apple created by Gae In as an apology to Jin Ho. I want an apple as well.

I think it's only fair to write a bit about the house Sanggonjae. It's a hanok style house and very pretty. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to keep the place clean and empathise with Gae In's desire to keep it the way it is.

I loved most things about Personal Taste. The progression of the story is done very nicely and we can see how Jin Ho and Gae In's relationship evolve from being roommates to friends 1to being happily in love. 

My ratings for Personal Taste: 9/10
More K-drama reviews by me:
Boys Over Flowers (has Lee Min Ho in the lead role)
Playful Kiss
Coffee Prince
Full House 
Dae Jang Geum
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop 
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
Queen In Hyun's Man 

My review on the film The Classic which has Son Ye Jin. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I’ve been told that I don’t really ever talk about festivals etc, almost leading one to believe that I don’t like them or something. I assure everyone that that isn’t true. I like festivals as much as the next person, I just don’t rush back to facebook the second everyone’s gone home (or even earlier) and post pictures of myself or my house in the various moods and swing. However, I have come to doubt that in all the years that I’ve kept this blog, I have actually posted about any festival or celebrations of any kind. So I shall start from now on. And since it was Diwali yesterday, I’ll just talk about that.
I don’t “celebrate” Diwali in the typical sense which basically means that I don’t (a) burst crackers and (b) get drunk. I do, however, spend my time texting and emailing people wishing them etc and get dressed up, light lamps all around the house and sit for the puja. It’s true, that really is about it. See, I don’t even “dress up”, I just have to not be in my pyjamas because Diwali generally means a lot f guests coming to your place days in advance. And Diwali is that kind of a time of the year anyways…even if you’re the kind who doesn’t like celebrating or being festive in general, you can’t help but smile anyhow… I know I sound cheesy, but there really is something in the air. Everyone’s so happy, you know? And giving. People generally aren’t like that so easily anymore (or at any rate, I’ve found most people to be often high strung).
Like I said, I don’t burst crackers. Not even a tiny phooljhari. Nothing. I’ve been cracker-free for almost 15-16 years now (can’t remember the exact year). I do this because I really am not the biggest fan of pollution or child labour and because I’ve a dog and I’d really not like to contribute into scaring the dogs (pets and stray alike) on Diwali night. It’s not noble or anything, I just don’t do it because I don’t like the idea of it.
So what do I do then? Well, just what I wrote above. Diwali evenings go like this—lamp lighting, puja and then food. I’m somehow given the task to oil and light the lamps and candle that are placed all over the house, and even outside the house. I personally don’t prefer so many of them but hey, if I am to go against everything in the festival of lights, people start to crib. Then, we sit for the puja. While my mother was prepping for the puja, I was clicking pictures of the preps. There they are---

And then, finally, I sit back in front of the tv and eat. What is Diwali if people don’t stuff themselves silly? So there I was, eating my more than fair share of chocolates and what nots. That’s all that happened. I once made rangoli and it was so bad, that attempt that I’ve never bothered to do it again.
I hope everyone had a great Diwali and

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

The main alter.

Like I mentioned in the post , I am deleting my other blog altogether. Out of the only two entries that I wrote in that blog, this was the last one written in July this year. I'm basically pasting it over here and deleting my other blog.

I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the famed cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa on a Christmas morning. I always thought that "Bom Jesus" meant "baby Jesus" in some language but the guide there told us that "Bom Jesus" means "Good Jesus" and is usually a term used while referring to the Baby Jesus. This beautiful 17th Century cathedral is among the oldest in all of India and is a World Heritage Monument.

Basilica of Bom Jesus is famous all over the world for containing the relics of the body of the famous saint, St. Francis Xavier. It is said that it was St. Xavier's wish to be buried in Goa after his death. He eventually died somewhere far from Goa en route to China and his body was buried in Malacca. However, one year later, as per his wishes, his remains were transported to Goa. Even though I did not see St. Xavier's relics (I heard from someone that it is displayed once every ten years and the year I went was not the year), I did see the beautiful silver casket it was kept in. The casket ha gorgeous carvings an is placed at an angle inside the cathedral where everyone can view it. Below is the picture of the casket.

Since it was Christmas Day, the entire cathedral was decorated. There was an adorable little Baby Jesus statue in front of the main alter and He was wearing this beautiful garland. I couldn't help but smile and say "happy birthday". Throughout the cathedral, I saw beautiful displays of scenes from Bethlehem at the time of Jesus's birth. Here is a picture of two such scene displays and then, the picture of the Baby Jesus statue.

Basilica of Bom Jesus is open all seven days of the week. People can click pictures freely (or at least we were when we went there) as long as you don't hold out or disturb the worshippers. There are candles available for you to light. Outside, there will be a line of tourist guides ready to explain to you the architecture and history of the place in exchange of money. All in all, this is a wonderful place to visit and it leaves you with a smile on your face.

Unwell and sleep deprived

It's getting colder in Delhi by the minute. Also, foggier. I don't get it. As far as I remember, early November wasn't this cold but maybe I'm losing memory. I'm not entirely sure which of the two it is. Anyway, I've managed to get a slight cold in this weather, which to be fair on myself, wasn't that difficult.

On top of that, I couldn't get any sleep last night. I wasn't sleeping at my house, I was somewhere else because some minor renovation work made it impossible to sleep at home last night. Not that I got any sleep at all where I was. I am fortunate enough to not have any problems adjusting to a new bed (a new pillow, however, is an exception) but before I could even doze off, my chances of sleeping were battered by loud bass noises coming from a nearby "party". We were told this morning that it was a Diwali Card Party of some sort which didn't explain anything to me... not a good enough reason to not let a person who's unwell to keep up all night. So there I was, listening to that somewhat low but persistent dhump dhump dhump, lying wide awake with a headache, body-ache and a very sore throat.  It got worse as the night went on-- it seems like all the cars from that party, and everywhere else, got together and decided to honk non-stop till 4am. That, along with the dhump dhump dhump.

 I have such a severe headache now and I'm coughing like a maniac. And I am cursing those fools in my head right now. I understand that Diwali is a joyous holiday and that everyone wants to celebrate etc etc...but COME ON! It's not even that noisy on Diwali itself!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata

 This July I had started a new blog that many of my friends and followers here on my blog were unaware of, mainly because I didn't tell anyone. It was supposed to be a space exclusively for all the religious and spiritual places that I've been to till date and sort of a tourist guide/travelogue/review sort of a mix. I don't know, hadn't thought it through. Anyways, after exactly two posts, I abandoned the blog because well, turns out, two blogs is just too many for me. And today, way into November I think, why can't I just write all that stuff down here? I write about pretty much everything else that grabs my fancy in this blog anyways. So now then, this shall be my one and only blog. Just note that anything to do with my tourist guide/travelogue/review of religious or/and spiritual places shall be labbled on this blog under "a little bit of faith".

This is what I had written in that other blog way back in July of this year. I'm copying and pasting it here and deleting the other blog. Enjoy or ignore, as you please.

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to blog about the religious and spiritual places that I have been to for a long time now. But I only got to it today. And since it is difficult to just start with any one out the many places that I have visited, I shall begin with the temple I visited most recently. I went to Kolkata this past weekend with my family and my parents insisted that we visit the famous Dakshineshwar Kali temple. So off we went! Or wait... rewind a few hours. We did not know when the temple closes on on a weekday so we decided that Saturday early morning was the best time to visit the temple. WE duly got up at 5:30am, took a shower, and started off at 6am. Kolkata in the early morning is quite different from Kolkata in the afternoons and nights. For one, there isn't as much traffic as you normally find there. Dakshineshwar Kali temple is quite far from the so-called "heart" of Kolkata. Anyway, we started off from Ballygunge Place and the temple was quite a bit of distance from there.

When we reached, it was still no where near 7 am and still, we found the place packed with devotees. Turns out, Saturday is the "day" of Maa Kali, the goddess of to whom this temple is dedicated to. So all those people who do not (at all) like super crowded places, avoid going there on Saturdays, especially Saturday evenings. But even if you do turn up on a Saturday, it isn't so bad. The place isn't the kinds that would make one claustrophobic, or at least, it didn't make me so. The devotees are very organised. Once you enter the temple complex, you see that four lines are formed. We were a bit confused initially, wondering which line led to our turn at worshipping Kali, but turns out that all four lead to Her. Of course, the longest line leads to looking at Her from a front view (as opposed to glancing at Her idol in side profile).

Hibiscus flowers, said to be a special favorite of Maa Kali, and incense sticks are available in the abundance in front of the temple complex. Just one request: please do not throw away the empty incense wrappers on the temple floor; wait till you get to a dustbin. Even though Dashineshwar Kali temple is cleaner than a lot of temples I have been to, it is still strewn with incense stick wrappers and such by various people who come to visit the temple.

The temple is a beautiful one, built in a what I hear a very traditional Bengali architecture. The main temple houses the idol of Maa Kali who faces the 12 smaller temples, all of which are dedicated to Her Husband, Shiva. Why 12, you ask? All of these 12 Shiva temples are representative of the 12 Jyotirnlings. And each of these 12 temples are functional so devotees can also worship Shiva. The temple is located on the banks of Hoogli river (called "Ganga" by the local people) and across from Belur Math (you can apparently take a boat from Dakshineshwar Kali temple to Belur Math). At the banks of Hoogli, a river considered to be very holy by the Hindus, one can see many people take their morning baths. True story. I saw a woman, clad in a nightie, scrubbing her hair and face with soap. Another thing about this place, the living room of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa is also on display there.

I hope this post will help you in your visit to this particular temple.

Monday, 5 November 2012

K-Drama--- Full House (풀하우스)


Name of the show: Full House
Lead Actors: Rain and Song Hye Kyo
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Ji Eun & Young Jae in front of Full House
Honestly, I wanted to blog about food right now. But then I changed my mind and decided to write down my take on the K-drama Full House/풀하우스 (NOT to be confused with the American series Full House, which is also one of my ever-green favs) like I said I would in my previous post. Why? Because for once I wanted to stick to what I wrote! And I really, truly do love--lurrrve--Full House. I've seen (and continue to do so) my fair share of K-dramas and so it is quite shocking that I saw Full House very recently.

As to why it's shocking--- Like I just said, I've watched quite a lot of K-dramas. Of all the K-dramas, ever, Full House is among the most popular ones, it seems, world over. The internet is ga-ga about it. In fact, if you google "Full House", I'm sure among the majority of the result that'll come up about the American show, quite a lot would come up about this show as well. The second reason why I'm so defensive about not "having the time" to watch Full House earlier is that this a series that was aired in South Korea for the 1st time in the year 2004, which means that I'm basically claiming I haven't had the time to watch roughly 160 hours of awesomeness. Third, the drama has Bi Rain in it! (As if it's a surprise that I listen to and am a fan of K-pop, really!)

Okay, so a bit of a background about Full House--
It is set in Seoul, South Korea, presumably in their current time (ie, 2004) and is a romantic-comdey kind of a thing. And VERY adorable. Oh, I should warn you that I will most definitely be gushing about Rain. Hee. Yes, so, moving on.... The plot is such: Ji-eun (played by Song Hye-Kyo) lives alone (she had lost her parents when she was a child, way before the story began) in her paternal house by the sea (I know!) called "Full House". She's really messy, not organised and is a very kind person. Also, naive. Or shall I say "stupid"? Because she gets conned in the 1st episode by her two best friends into going to a trip to China (where she is pretty much stranded without any money and a fair share of ramyun noodles), while her "friends" sell her house behind her back and take away all her money and make a run for it. Such friends, I'm sure we all can do without. On her flight to China, she meets Lee Young Jae (played by Bi Rain), a Korean superstar who's on his way to China to shoot his new film. Young Jae is hot (obviously, because Rain plays him) and has been in the news thanks to his very long, interesting love-and-scandlous-life.

 It is mentioned from the very start that if Young Jae stirs up any more scandles in his name, his career is pretty much over. I guess they haven't heard the mantra that says bad publicity is still publicity. Anyway, yes so obviously, since Ji Eun and Young Jae are the lead, they do not get along in the beginning. Young Jae, in fact, is in love with his childhood friend, Hye Won who in turn is in love with their mutual childhood friend, Min Hyuk, who by the way later on falls in love with Ji Eun (whom he met in China, just in case you were wondering).

When they return to Seoul, poor Ji Eun is homeless, pennyless and turns out that her beloved Full House has been sold to Young Jae... Initially, Young Jae allows Ji Eun to stay in Full House (she has NO WHERE to go) as his house help/maid, but as the story moves on, they get into a secret-contract marriage. Young Jae proposes this marriage because he is tired of being hurt by his unrequited love for Hye Won and Ji Eun agrees to it because Young Jae promises to give her Full House as her alimony. But then, of course, they eventually fall in love and after a lot of misunderstandings, they get together for real. Yay.

There are a total of 16 episodes of Full House, all an hour long. I loved each and every cast member/character in Full House. Except Hye Won, who I wanted to stab several times, which just shows what an amazing actor Han Eun Jeong is.

But let's start in the order:

Han Ji Eun

Song Hye Kyo plays Han Ji Eun's character. Honestly, my first reaction on seeing her was "OMG, she's so pretty!". She is pretty and is such a joy to watch throughout the series because she can act and that's always a nice thing in a protagonist of a series. Ji Eun is a happy-go-lucky, 23-year-old. She lost her parents at a young age and is a writer. By "writer", I mean that she writes internet novels and clearly has done a decent job out of that considering she was paying her bills etc till the story began but as the story progresses, we find out that even though she has the talent, her writing skills aren't polished and she is very vague in her writing. She doesn't care about stuff like cleaning up the house that she so loves or getting organised. Apart from her two best friends who con her, she has no one else on earth until of course she meets Young Jae and Min Hyunk. And Young Jae's family.

Song Hye Kyo plays Ji Eun delightfully. She's so naturally bubbly at the right places that she made me smile throughout the series (except where she was crying). Her character is really caring and kind and all but I was also happy that she doesn't forgive both her best-friends, or Young Jae as easily as a lot of heroines would. I really liked her character and I could relate to her as well... the fact that she hates waking up early, doesn't like exercising and enjoys all types of food. But I'm not like her at all, no. What I really liked about Ji Eun is that even though she's a delight, she is never portrayed as being perfect. She has her temper tantrums every once in a while, threatens to leave the house many times, struggles with house work, is an aspiring writer with flaws and makes the mistake of singing the Three Bears Song to her in-laws as a gift (more on that in a while).

From episode 1 to episode 16, we see Ji Eun grow, both as a person and as a writer.

I really liked that even though she's in love with Young Jae and would do anything to see him happy and successful, she also thinks about and wants her own peace of mind. Go girl!

Lee Young Jae

RAIN plays this character.  Honestly, enough reason to watch the show. And not just because, you know, it's Rain, so that's hot and he's got such an amazing voice but also because he really can act. Also, I like his smile.

Lee Young Jae's character is that of a famous and successful South Korean actor. As soon as I know that, my mind goes--ah, a role so meant for Rain! And he does such a good job of it. It must be hard, I suppose, to play the role of someone who's this national heartthrob (no, really, we see mob following him at Amazing Land) who's always in the headlines for his scandalous affairs with his co-stars and somebody who's shy of confessing his love for his own wife and someone heartbroken in love. Which, yes, I was initially like, yeah right, who would scorn anyone even played by Rain? But then I saw that other guy who plays Min Hyuk and he's pretty hot as well so I see Hye Won's dilemma.

Initially seemed to be a cold, uncaring casanova, Young Jae turns out to be an extremely warm and caring person who just seems to be scared of showing his kind side to Ji Eun (who sees it anyways), calling her "rice bowl" and "chicken" and somebody who would go to any extent for the one he loves, provided of course, that he is aware that he loves her.

He is some really sweet childish habits like eating ice-cream when he's upset and making others eat ice-cream when they're upset. And he also has daddy issues. Unlike Ji Eun, Young Jae was a top student and was also a med student until he quit to become an actor. He doesn't get along with his dad. Dad, in turn, is upset because Young Jae gave up a career in medicine.

I really, really loved this character. He is so adorable! And confused. Very confused. But like all good K-drama heroes, he does his fair share of sweet gestures like getting Ji Eun flowers (I love flowers!), taking care of her and Hye Won when they're unwell, teach Ji Eun to ride a cycle, freaking out like crazy (even shedding tears) when Ji Eun suggests breaking up and getting Ji Eun a tape recorder "that writers use" for her birthday (awwwww).


Yoo Min Hyuk

First of, naaaaaice choice of getting Kim Sung Soo to play Min Hyuk. No, really. Min Hyuk is supposed to be this calm, collected, HOT, suave, sophisticated guy and Kim Sung Soo looks every bit of that. I almost fell in love with him while watching Full House. Almost. Because in the end, I did want Ji Eun to end up with Young Jae (they're SO cute!). But I was still a bit sad that Min Hyuk pretty much ended up alone. He really shouldn't have. He's such a nice character, so calm, so collected, so thoughtful, so kind, so hot and so...busy (he forgot his own birthday...his secretary had to remind him). My only regret is that Min Hyuk is a character that even though we saw quite a bit of, wasn't developed so much. Other than that, brilliant. He loves Ji Eun, doesn't bother to hide it per say but isn't insistent or cheap about it either. And he has guts! And he serves as the perfect agent to make Young Jae jealous. At one point I was thinking-- Poor Young Jae, he probably thinks that all the women in his life fall for Min Hyuk. And probably that's why he gets really insecure of Min Hyuk. Even when he rejects Hye Won, who is his childhood friend fyi, he does it with so much grace.... really, come on, people snub people horribly! Min Hyuk was a darling!

Kang Hye Won

First of all, I hated her. I HATED Hye Won. Why? Oh, because she was such a selfish bitch! Which made me realise just how brilliant Han Eun Jeong is as an actor. So, in that sense, I also loved her.

Hye Won's character may not be someone that I liked like in the sense that she was the main reason our love birds Ji Eun and Young Jae couldn't get together, but wow, her character is so real. And Han Eun Jeong does such an excellent job of keeping it real. I say that Hye Won is real because no matter how much I L-O-V-E-D Ji Eun and Young Jae and Min Hyuk, there are really few people who are truly that nice or that selfless or that honourable. I must clarify here that I don't think for a moment that any of those three are unreal. They're all very real characters, with their own flaws and strengths and desire of trying to get what and whom they want and so on. I am just saying, that Hye Won's character is the most real.

She isn't even an out and out negative/bad character, which is what I meant by her real-ness. She is known to have had a long time crush on Min Hyuk (can't blame her there) and he doesn't care about her "that ways". She gets jilted by him in the 2nd episode I think and come on, being rejected is tough. To save face and to divert her own frustration, she confronts an unguarded Young Jae about his feelings for her. It'd not a nice thing to do, no, but it's still something natural in the sense, a lot of people would do that. People generally want to save their own face first.

After being jilted by Min Hyuk, she gets jealous of Ji Eun because she doesn't like Young Jae giving any one more attention that he does to her. I really liked that this behaviour confuses Hye Won herself. Many times she herself says that she must be a bad person to be in love with one guy and be so possessive of another and wanting this other guy to have her as the first priority in his life. Of course, that made both Ji Eun and me very unhappy but the thing is, that wanting to be first in someone's life (no matter what you feel for him) especially just after you've been rejected is again a very natural thing. Later on she even falls in love with Young Jae (can't blame her again) but eventually lets him go when she realises that he loves Ji Eun. And even further on, when Young Jae pretty much kicks his career aside for Ji Eun's sake (don't ask...!), she goes as far so to tell Ji Eun about Young Jae's love for her.

Often when I didn't hate Hye Won, I pitied her. She's not an evil character as much as she's somebody you would pity. She even says how she's been rejected by the two guys she fell for, in a row! And how she wants to be first in someone's life. She's a really interesting character.

Young Jae's family!!

Let me just write about how much I loved Young Jae's grandma! She is such an adorable character. She's supposed to be this really strict person who disapproves of Ji Eun very audibly and to her face as choice for being her only grandson's wife. She always criticizes Ji Eun for an assortment of reasons and even ends up calling her "Three Bears" thanks to her little impromtu performance. But you can see just how much she really does like/love Ji Eun. And even though initially Ji Eun is intimidated by her, she realises what a warm and fun person this ol' grandma is and the two become really close. I love when she pretends to teach Ji Eun a recipe when she doesn't know how to cook it herself, just so that Ji Eun would respect her more. Awww..

Young Jae's mom is one of those typical, adorable TV moms. Trying to make peace between her son and her husband. Initially not sure of Ji Eun as the correct choice for her daughter-in-law but later on warming up to her with a huge amount of motherly love. And a good cook apparently, and unlike Ji Eun and grandma. She's a sweet person. :)

Young Jae's dad is a doctor who isn't on the best of terms with his son but like the rest of his family, gets on excellent terms with Ji Eun.

Ji Eun's friends

Her two best friends, Hee Jin and Dong Wook, who are a couple, and are about to have a baby (and eventually do). They've known Ji Eun ever since they were little kids. They're both lazy and have hopes of become rich easily and with the least amount of work possible. I guess their main job is to provide comic relief and create more tension to Ji Eun's life, both tasks that they do rather well. Both of them are rather stupid, but their mind works like ... oh, well, it works super fast when it comes to ways of getting money. They're both responsible of letting slip that Ji Eun's and Young Jae's is a contract marriage. While Hee Jin really has high hopes for Min Hyuk and Ji Eun, because he is handsome and rich (and according to her if Young Jae can openly be with Hye Won, why shouldn't her friend go out with Min Hyuk?), her boyfriend Dong Wook is loyal to Young Jae and wants Ji Eun to remain with him (because according to him "contract or otherwise, a marriage is still a marriage"). They also provide a set of written rules/manuals on how to win Ji Eun's heart to help Young Jae out.

Young Jae's agent

I mention her because wow.... Im Ye Jin is so different here than what I saw of her in BOF! She is so calm, so collected and even though she is very business minded, she does seem to care a tad for Young Jae.

My favorite scenes:

1. I loved the impromptu performance that Ji Eun gives at Young Jae's parents' house of The Three Bears.  Made me laugh like crazy!

This is how it went--- Ji Eun and Young Jae have gone to his parents' place the first time after their wedding and Grandma has criticized Ji Eun to be lacking in manners, saying that she didn't even have the courtesy to get a gift for her in-laws on her first visit. Ji Eun interjects that she has indeed gotten a present--the gift of a song! And then follows the performance.

Here is a youtube link. Please note the expression of horror + shock on everyone's face!

2. When Rain, I mean Young Jae, sings The Three Bears Song for Ji Eun in an American accent as an apology and attempt to make her laugh. I know, this is beginning to sound like an ode to the Three Bears Song but this really was adorable! Here is the link:

3. The confession! And the day after... I love the way Young Jae buries his face in the blanket just coz he's so shy! Rain is adorable!

4. When Young Jae buys Ji Eun a tape recorder for her birthday.

5. In Episode 15, when Young Jae returns to Full House and Ji Eun sees him at the door. Such an emotional scene and so nicely done.

6. When Ji Eun throws a fit about wanting flowers instead of ice cream.

Also, loved the music of Full House. This series is definitely worth a watch just 'coz it's such a sweet, light, fun thing to watch!

My Ratings for Full House: 8/10

Other K-drama reviews by me:
Boys Over Flowers
Queen In Hyun's Man
Playful Kiss
Coffee Prince
Personal Taste 
Dae Jang Geum
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop 
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho