Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two Degrees on Facebook

Hollywood action blockbusters would have you think that hiding out as a wanted fugitive doesn't take much more than a cheap haircut, an unwashed hoodie and a hunched posture.  Or else the infamously paltry disguise used by Clark Kent with his rumpled locks and thick glasses.

Seriously who could ever mistake that bohunk body even hidden under layers of overly large mismatched office attire.

Who are we kidding? With almost everyone - even spoilt lil rugrats these days - having the latest cellphones / tablets with easily available internet access at hand, it's nearly impossible to hide. With near indispensable social networks linking everyone we know - and a few million we don't - such as Facebook, we can practically forget about anonymity.

Waitaminute, haven't I seen those legs on Facebook? 

Especially when you have an eminently recognizable visage like mine. So much for keeping a somewhat low profile here.

Paul : Do you have any questions regarding this procedure?
Patient : Umm... do you mind me asking?
Paul : Fire away.
Patient : You're the Dr Paul on facebook right? 
Paul : Well, yes? 
Patient : Yeah, I knew I recognized you. You're Charming Calvin's friend, right? 
Paul : Well, yes!

There was a telling glance and a barely concealed smirk that let me know that she must have vaguely guessed the illicit connection between us.

Is it my hawkish nose? How did she distinguish my seemingly below average face from the dozens out there - especially since I have a shockingly tiny picture insert?  Did I have an abnormally large pimple?

Turns out having a Facebook account can be doubly dangerous these days. While we're relatively caught up in other people's mundane daily minutiae on their Facebook and Tweets, we sometimes blithely forget that others might be similarly stalking us as well. Not the first time it happened to me since a few months back, I actually got poked - both online and offline - by a total stranger who claimed he managed to identify me from Facebook. Seems we had more than a gay cruiseload of mutual friends in common.

And he even recognized me from several hundred metres away in an airport!

Thankfully he was really cute which helped diminish the creepy stalker vibe he'd have otherwise. Whoever said being pretty wasn't useful?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Wedding

It's my brother's wedding anniversary today

Awfully clich├ęd but yes, time really does fly! Has it really been more than a decade of marriage? Way back then... in the early primeval internet years, there was no facebook to share, no tweeting to hear of and certainly no blogs to read. Well hardly any blogs, not even mine.

So it didn't surprise me much when my permanently-logged-on sister-in-law sadly mourned the lack of online testimonials to remind her of that special day.

Sue : Damn. I should have blogged about it. 
Paul : You still can. Why don't you just blog about it now and tell us what you can recollect about the day. In retrospect you might look at things differently.
Sue : Alamak. Hardly any time to sit down and recollect!

A pity since it was certainly a memorable day. Since Sassy Sue has decided to keep her reflections to herself for the moment, I might as well share my own recollection of that fateful day more than a decade ago.

First thing I could recall was the fact that my brother was getting married. Like seriously? Sure he's always been shockingly staid, sober and steady.... but settling down? Whoa, what next? Kids?

Second was - of course - that I was wearing a suit. Not often I get the chance to wear it back then. Wore it a couple of times before - my graduation, my brother's wedding pics and a couple of formal dinners.

Thirdly was the amazement at the number of people my astonishingly gregarious parents knew. Weren't my parents antisocial hermetical homebodies? Seemed like they'd practically invited half the town - and the other half had come by to see what's up. Helping out with the ushers at the door, I barely recognized the strange unfamiliar motley crew that came straggling in to the wedding.

Damn, I look good in a suit. 

About the wedding dinner itself? With almost my entire extended family in attendance - and Sassy Sue's even larger contingent, we had nearly five hundred guests in the hall. Obviously wildly unnerving to my sister-in-law! Early in the morning while Sue was still getting her hair done, she had her first military briefing with the entire wedding party from the emcees down to even the tiniest flower girls. I recall a couple of coour-coded folders with specific orders written on them.

Yes, Sue was that nervous. Unlike the plainly ecstatic groom beaming from ear to ear, the anxious bride hardly smiled though. No doubt common in most weddings! Wanting every last bit of the wedding to be picture-perfect like the perfectionista she was, Sue could hardly contain her jangly nerves.

Don't blame her though since I would probably freak out over every last minute detail down to the very hemlines on the dinner tablecloths. With the crazed bitch-fits gay men are prone to, doubt I'd be the first groomzilla ever.

Being forced to daintily nibble during the main course must have given Sue the jitters as well. Pristine white ballgown with elbow length silk gloves tends to curtail gorging on the sumptuous ten-course meal. Thank God guys get to wear suits.

Overall what did I think of the day? Of course I was wildly happy. It was a good day. My brother was getting married. My parents were happy. All my relatives were present. Hell, even my ex was lurking close by. And damn, I'd almost finished a year of grueling housemanship. :)


It was good.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

MSG

Just like the warrior Achilles had his vulnerable heel, Lady Macbeth had her stained hands and Superman has his radioactive Krytonite, even the seemingly invincible Madame Borgia - that infamous mother-in-law of mine - has a shocking little weakness of her own.

Something almost microscopic, readily available and seemingly negligible. Almost! But just a trace amount is enough for the usually unflappable Madame Borgia to stumble helplessly into mindless hysterics.

And that's monosodium glutamate. Otherwise known as the humble MSG, so very much beloved by thriving Asian restaurants around the globe. Though obviously not on such convivial terms with Madame Borgia, apparently quite the unyielding nemesis since the redoubtable lady shrieks stridently whenever even a hint of MSG makes an appearance. Increasing ... *ahem* maturity has turned our Madame into quite the health-conscious ascetic with a zealous appetite for only the blandest of fine foods plucked from organic farms raised with warm sunshine and tender loving care.

Don't even get me going on Madame Borgia's long-standing though ultimately futile battle with fatty cholesterol-laden pork. Haven't tried it but always wondered whether she'd melt into a screaming puddle if I tossed some MSG at her.


Seriously, when did sandwiches and salads become so damned popular? 


A freakish health-nut obsession that seems to have spread its malicious claws into her susceptible son, Charming Calvin. Lack of a visible partner, a love-hate relationship with his much abused automobile and near financial insolvency has turned him into something of a social recluse of late.

Paul : You're at home?
Calvin : Yes. Taking dinner.
Paul : Not going out for dinner?
Calvin : Cooking at home. Or maybe make a sandwich. 

Paul : Just go tapao from outside.
Calvin : Eating food cooked at home is healthier.
Paul : OMG. I can't believe you just said that!
Calvin : Why?
Paul : You're turning into your mother!


Seriously. Someone get him out of that house and away from the horrifying salad-sandwich combo. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gotta Have It

Gotta say I've pretty much given up on chasing technology - lamentable techno-himbo status notwithstanding.

Just imagine less than two decades ago, a touch-screen tablet would have been something wondrous right out of Star Trek itself! And these days, we even have handsy toddlers playing with the latest iPads.

Matt Bomer
Well I'm done with this. Time for a new toy!

Phew! Other than secretly inventing the latest wondrous contrivance yourself - and hiding it, is there any practical way to outrun the rapidly evolving high-tech world? New contraptions and appliances come our way almost every quarter. Barely a week after purchasing what could be termed the latest technological gadget fresh from the store, you can be pretty sure some obscure high-tech factory in China is already busy churning out the bits and bytes of the next awesome generation. These days, the Ver 2.0 or even 3.0 of almost everything seems to pop up on the market almost instantaneously.

Obviously a boon for our increasingly frenzied generation of rabid consumers. Just look at the familiar queues patiently waiting in line outside retail stores for the first crack at the latest tech-gizmo, whether cellphones, tablets or software. Some fanatical enthusiasts even resort to camping outside just to be the first in line.

Felix : OMG the new one is out! I must get it.
Paul : Even though nothing much has changed? 
Felix : It is newer. 
Paul : So what will happen to your old one?
Felix : Nothing.
Paul : You'd chuck it?
Felix : Yeah. Like you should chuck yours. 
Paul : Even though it's still functioning perfectly? 
Felix : Yes, trade it in for something new and better!
Paul : And shinier of course. 
Felix : Of course.
Paul : It's not a necessity.
Felix : But it's so pretty!


Toys for the big boys and all that.... they just gotta have it. And Felix isn't the only one. If Charming Calvin didn't have his avaricious hands tied with financial constraint, no doubt he'd be out purchasing the latest models as well.

But seriously, what a waste of money and resources. Dumping the old geezer into some dusty forgotten corner the moment the new edition arrives at the doorstep? Exactly what happens to all the abandoned gizmos and gadgets?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chocolate Love

Oddly enough the first thing people asked me to try in Korea is chocolate.

Forget about kimchi, bulgogi and rice cakes. Supposedly Pepero chocolate-coated cookie sticks are the must-buy items over there.



Obviously once you've seen the scrumptious food porn video above, you'd disagree. After all even the caddish scamp in the drama Fermentation Family couldn't remain impervious to the irresistible charm of mouthwatering kimchi laid out like an artful masterpiece in front of him. 

Though I do crave a bit of healthy kimchi every once in a while, that's nothing compared to my rapacious lust for bulgogi and sam-gyeopsal. Basically greasy meat grilled on a dome griddles on braziers. Shockingly heaty especially with the amount of soju and makgeolli I downed. 

BTW makgeolli is a locally brewed milky rice wine that goes down surprisingly easy. Which is why I had at least a bottle a day :)


What should I have for lunch next? 

To avoid having my yin-yang spinning dangerously out of whack with the amount of heaty food I was happily ingesting, I interspersed my carnivorous delights with the occasional nourishing porridge break. Yes, we had our slow-food juk almost every morning as we walked down the street from the guesthouse, since there was a store selling just that on the way to the train station. Unlike the porridge we're all used to, the Koreans toss in pine nuts, octopus, pumpkin and kimchi into the mix. Just to name a few.


Though curiously they don't have century eggs. Surely it couldn't be that exotic to the diet-adventurous Koreans. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bring The Boys

So what can I say about the boys in Korea? Are they all shockingly immaculate, perfectly coiffed Asian Ken dolls as they are all reputed to be?





Well perhaps not all. Still a couple of sloppy ahjusshis here and there - or rolling about pissed drunk - on the streets who threaten to destroy the flawless reputation the flower boys are trying to build. But overall the boys do tend to be overwhelmingly tall, enviably slim and generally attractive.

Seriously I didn't know whether to turn green with demonic jealousy or pink with blushing attraction. Maybe a bit of both. Certainly added to my insane idea that unattractive, obese South Koreans are forcibly marched at gunpoint across the hostile border to famine-stricken North Korea for a rapid weight-loss program.

Or maybe we get distracted by their beautifully tailored clothes that fit near flawlessly. Perhaps not all of them would pass for a hunky supermodel but most take a bit of care when it comes to their appearance and clothes. Certainly no need to remind these metrosexual boys to dress up! Definitely no comfort before fashion for these dressy fellows.

Though I do draw the line at man-liner.

If only they would stand in line for me to pick

Take a look around, it's really almost impossible to find a slovenly b-boy with his disheveled jeans hanging down between his knees.

Paul : You should invest in a nice suit.
Calvin : Much too hot. I'd probably melt into a puddle and die. 
Paul : You work in a fully air-conditioned office. 
Calvin : It's still hot. 
Paul : Maybe a vest or a cardigan. 
Calvin : Still too hot. 
Paul : Or at least a nice shirt!
Calvin : Also hot. And the sleeves are too long for me. 
Paul : If you had your own choice, you'd probably work in singlet and shorts, wouldn't you?
Calvin : Yes.

Well at least I tried!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Run Devil Run

24 Hour Shopping.




How could anyone not love that!

Seriously, need I say more? Practically lost my mind shopping over there. I believe 24 hour shopping hours should be the way to go; something I think all seriously sultry Asian capitals should encourage in their crowded streets - although I'm sure our own small-minded bureaucrats would whine, wail and weep over the perceived rise in some hitherto unknown heinous crime tied to the extended shopping hours. They always find the flimsiest reasons to justify their nonsensical acts.

Back to Seoul! Just like the oft-abused phrase, over here one mall closes only to have another open. Usually right next door.

Poor Charming Calvin had to run devil run quite a lot as I sped through the endless shopping streets laid out like a treasure trail with unbelievable bargains on every corner. Though of course the number of shops catering to the ladies outnumber the men's, there are still quite a lot of stores offering beautifully fitted work attire with jackets, vests and ties in bewilderingly bold shades. Which I obviously splurged on.

Despite the fact that the clothes - and the shockingly bling ties - were all obviously made for the fragile skinny-gaunt flower boys made famous by the Hallyu wave!

Though I no longer wonder at their incredibly soft, baby-smooth skin. With at least five different cosmetic stores on every street beckoning with samples and freebies galore, how could anyone possibly resist? Seriously at the rate the hyperenthusiastic salesgirls are chucking facial creams, scrubs and masks at baffled passersby, it should be a fashion crime not to participate in the cosmetic frenzy. Every possible cream or lotion for every possible skin surface is available here.

Even a mask for the hells of your feet. I kid you not.

What? There's a BB cream sale?

While most are easily converted once they are drawn to the irresistible siren song of beauty products, the more recalcitrant visitors are literally dragged kicking and screaming by the surprisingly strong salesgirls into the stores for a full makeover. Or at least a dab of BB cream at the very least.

And if the dozens of beauty products available still can't help attain the expected results, there's always the friendly neighbourhood plastic surgeon ready to perform the impossible. Also seemingly available on every street corner.

The Koreans really take beauty regimes seriously.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Time Machine


I gotta admit it must be a bit hard to come from Japan when you're in Seoul.

And I'm not even talking about the weekly protests by the tenacious Korean comfort women who sit in umbrage opposite the Japanese embassy demanding compensation.

No, I think it's even worse to claim origin from Japan when you're making the prerequisite tour of the royal palaces. Especially since Japanese rule over the Korean peninsula effectively ended less than a century ago. Much like the unimaginably vile taint they left over the rest of occupied Asia during the Japanese Occupation - as our aged grandparents are quick to remind us - the Japanese imperialists obviously committed far worse crimes in Korea.

Get out of my palace!

Honestly it doesn't take very long before the embittered mention of the Japanese Colonial Administration is made, usually with a faint sneer of derision, by one of the tour guides.

Guide : Yes, we have lovely palaces but most of it is new. Or at least partly refurbished. 
Paul : Oh really.
Guide : Yes, the Japanese destroyed all the buildings, razed almost the entire city to the ground. 
Paul : Ouch. 
Guide : The Japanese assassinated our queen. And then they forcibly removed our royal family and all the heirs to Japan. 
Paul : Double ouch. 
Guide : Without the Japanese, who knows. We might still have a royal family to speak of. 

Followed by a dismal sigh of melancholy from the woeful guide in the traditional hanbok.

Hard to blame the Koreans for feeling that way since it seems like the merciless occupying forces left a swath of wanton destruction each time they attacked. Which seems like every couple hundred years! Rather than the more amiable sort of visitors armed with DSLRs and guidebooks breaching the walls of the palaces now, the barbarous louts that invaded back then came armed to the teeth with swords and axes to pillage and plunder.

So yes, it's no wonder that bits of their beautiful wooden palaces are held in place with modern concrete cement!




Doesn't take away any of their lovely charm though. Compared to the massive palace complexes in Beijing, the palaces here seem almost quaintly provincial. Decidedly smaller, certainly much easier to get around in a day.



Wednesday, May 09, 2012

S.E.O.U.L.


Glad that my one wish this month - that the unpredictable North Korean potentate Kim Jong-un would keep his fat trigger-happy fingers off the volatile missile controls at his command - actually did come true. Which is how I managed to make it out of Seoul alive - thankfully sans radioactive poisoning - despite vaguely threatening headlines about growing North Korean belligerence.

Didn't stop us from continually looking up into the clear skies for approaching missiles.




Gotta say the first morning was an exhausted blur of planes, trains and automobiles since we had an overnight flight - and I've always been notorious for remaining painfully awake on moving planes. The tiring all-nighter left me in a sleepy daze on arrival, trudging around the airport like a brain-dead zombie. Glamorous jet-set traveller I'm definitely not!

Though my flagging energy levels didn't stop me from nagging the sluggish Charming Calvin to get unpacked as quick as humanly possible the moment we dropped our bags off at the guesthouse somewhere in the vicinity of Bukchon district. Evidently metropolitan traffic jams and city madness does help wake me up.

And come on, we didn't have much time to waste in Seoul after all! We needed to get moving!

Paul : What are you doing?
Calvin : Resting.
Paul : What resting! You slept all the way - only to get up for meals!
Calvin : I need more rest.
Paul : Rest back home. We need to get moving!
Calvin : But my lovely bed! My pretty butterfly-embroidered comforter! My heated floors!
Paul : They aren't going anywhere. Move it!

A regular wake-up call that was repeated almost every other day we were there. Had to hold him at gunpoint to get our indolent hero moving.

Palace
Sometimes you really have to take drastic measures. 

A pity we were always in such a rush - well at least I was! - since our guesthouse had to be the most charming little traditional hanok homestead ever! Super steep uphill climbs - which explains how astonishingly fit the elderly here are - but the wooden house and the spectacular view is definitely worth the climb. Hanok here refers to the traditional Korean architecture style with various roof types including thatches, shingles and tiles - though with far less thatch and shingle these days, it is generally understood to mean tile-roofed house today. 


Not forgetting the unforgettable heated ondol floors - brilliant Korean innovation if any! Which we would have enjoyed a bit more of if the indecisive weather hadn't grown unseasonably warm in spring.




Take a walk into the village!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Gay's The Word

Despite hysterical headlines giving daily warning of the infectious homosexual plague beginning to corrupt the susceptible masses, the general public remains utterly oblivious of the fact. Thankfully! Hell, most of them don't even have gay in their vocabulary.

Yes, even at work. Though the more savvy nurses might have some inkling when the pink parade sashays down the main street, the rest remain blissfully unaware of its very existence. After all rampant homosexuality remains largely an unfamiliar illness infecting larger, more cosmopolitan conurbations, surely not in their pleasant little town where everyone's straight and married with 2.5 kids! Hard to blame them for feeling that way since most of my local gay brethren remain adamantly buried in their moth-eaten closets.

So being steadfastly gay remains something altogether foreign to the locals here.

Miranda : Now everyone's talking about us!
Paul : Ooh what are they saying?
Miranda : That we're fooling around.
Paul : Damn, I'm good.


Which is why my randy heterosexual cocksman's reputation remains intact despite my nurse Miranda Merry's fervent protests. Hard not to give rise to a bit of gossip when a nurse starts going out with a doctor - ah the stuff of generic M&B romances.

Nurse : We hear you have been out on dates with Dr Paul. Heard he's a real ladies' man. 
Miranda : You wouldn't call it dates at all. 
Nurse : When a man and a woman step out for an evening together... then what do you call it?
Miranda : I call it a friendly platonic outing.
Nurse : Surely there's a spark somewhere. 
Miranda : There's nothing.
Nurse : No need to lie, you're amongst friends here. 
Miranda : Trust me, even if I were to strip naked and lie down wantonly on the bed, he wouldn't make a move at all. Probably move to cover me with a blanket.
Nurse : Wow. You mean Dr Paul is that picky with the ladies? 
Miranda : OMFG.

Poor Miranda. No doubt she wanted very badly to start screaming 'Gay Gay Gay' though she stopped short of outing me then.

To the other nurses though, they think the lady doth protest too much.



Thursday, May 03, 2012

Selective Blind Spot

Remember when I once said Fabulous Felix has a Shield of Obliviousness to deal with unpleasant situations? Turns out that isn't the only weapon in his extensive armoury.

Perhaps more of an extension of his obliviousness since he also has the oddly misogynistic power of the Blind Spot. Never so blindingly obvious till the other day when a hottie came up to the gym counter with fan girls in tow.

Felix : Wow the boy is cute.
Paul : Yes, he is. Though I am wondering what he's doing!
Felix : Muay Thai class? Certainly has the legs for it.
Paul : With the gaggle of little girls around him? They can't be more than sixteen. Wow! Those girls are so Kick-Ass!
Felix : What little girls?
Paul : The girls he came with.
Felix : He came with girls?
Paul : There were four girls surrounding him.
Felix : OMG, there was?!
Paul : This explains a lot about you.


Has to be the equivalent of straight guys ignoring everything else when a pretty girl walks by. Been stuck in that particular situation often enough as a high school boy when all my horny heterosexual classmates would practically swivel around 180 degrees and crane their necks just to drool over a girl sauntering by in six-inch heels several hundred feet away.



The New Von Trapps


No doubt Felix would miss it but there's a rose amongst the thorns! I'm partial to the boys myself but I wouldn't miss her!


Don't get me wrong, I notice hot guys plenty. Nothing like a tight pair of curvaceous male ass in a skinny pair of jeans to instantly pull my lustful gaze. But I certainly don't stop and stare unabashedly till I am utterly oblivious to everything else around that gorgeous ass.







Yes, I'd drool. But I'd still keep an eye on my laundry.