Same same but different

While working on this particular set of drawings sitting at cafes, eateries and subways around Seoul, it dawned on me, especially after having moved countries recently, how different we are as humans irrespective of our similarities and how similar we are irrespective of our differences!

When we first moved to Seoul (and in the subsequent months) I was fascinated by the large groups of elderly people kitted out with serious hiking gear riding the subways on weekends, by the fearless ‘Ajummas‘ (as middle-aged Korean ladies are respectfully called) in identical solid perms, sun-visors and windbreakers, by the mini portable fans everybody carried in their hands all summer and the copious amounts of Bingsu (a lip-smacking Korean dessert) they consumed; or how most women would pull out a mirror from their bags and freshen up their make up every once in a while, by the raging red lipsticks and round framed Harry Potter glasses worn en masse and how clothing and preferences changed with season.

On the other hand these days there’s hardly anything novel about a couple sitting together, in silence, glued to their phones; or someone taking a picture of their food first before starting to eat! Don’t we all have that one friend who can’t stop talking, so much so that we mentally check out after a while, maybe doze off in the chair even? Look out for that person in this collection.

And a lady with a fetish for polka dots.

And two ‘rubik’s cube’ lovers.

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Guy with trekking poles and hiking boots, seen on the subway

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My husband on a late night conference call becomes an easy target.

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Ajumma on the left in sun visors and lurid pink jacket, drinking coffee

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(L) Sketched this lady on a hot summer day. She was wearing white, and carrying a matching white purse (R) Two ladies eating mango Bingsu. This was common sight all summer

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(R)From her polka dotted top, hand fan, umbrella and backpack, it was safe to assume that she really liked ……

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(R) This guy in green GAP t-shirt was a one man show. He seized every conversation and talked so much that one of his mates dozed off!

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(R) A lot of thought and effort goes into appearance and I see most Seoulites dressed really nicely when out which means I feel underdressed half the time.

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(L) From my table, it looked like a “It’s not you, it’s me” kind of conversation. Don’t miss the bright red lipstick on this woman, rather on every woman in these drawings.

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(R) Mini portable fan= most seen summer accessory in Seoul. (164,000 of these were sold in South Korea this year!)

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(R) Couple that plays rubik’s cube together stays together! These two were relentless in a ‘coffee be damned, let’s solve this thing’ kind of way.

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(L) Make-upping should be a word here.

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I often see business meetings being conducted in cafes. Here’s one in session. Attendees – 3 feisty women and one man who squirmed in his chair every time the discussion heated up.


7 thoughts on “Same same but different

    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Thank you for writing that! Sketching is truly more fulfilling to me than taking pictures. I am also glad that you enjoy my stories and drawings as much I enjoy making them 🙂 That’s very encouraging, so thanks again!

  1. confabler

    I love these sketches! They capture the moment better than a camera. Amazing work!👍💚💚
    I was really excited to hear that you live in Seoul. I’ve been saving up to visit both Korea and Japan in a year or two. And have just begun to learn hangul. Would love to hear about your adventures there (if I’m not wrong you are an Indian too, right?) and any advice you might have.😊

    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Hi there! And thank you! I am glad you like my work 🙂 Yes I am an Indian living in Seoul and drawing and writing about it when I can. Very exciting to hear that you are learning Hangul and planning a trip! Feel free to get in touch when you are here and if you have questions you can write to me and I’ll try my best to answer 🙂 Good luck with everything!

      1. confabler

        Thank you so much ma’am for your kind offer and I apologise for my late reply.
        Your work is something I wish I was good at as well. Unfortunately, I can only manage landscapes and an occasional portrait.
        If all goes well, I plan on a trip in the cherry blossom season. If not, then perhaps one or two years later.😊
        Thank you! It would be of immense help to hear your thoughts about the place. I’m a first time traveller who would most likely travel alone for a week. I hope I’m not bombarding you with questions.😅 But would you perhaps have a vague estimate of the expenses of such a trip? I’d understand if you don’t.:-) And any recommendations or advice.😊 I chose the place mainly coz I heard it was safe for girls and it’s the birthplace of tkd.

      2. Somali Roy Post author

        hey! Cherry blossom/ Fall are both perfect for visiting Seoul. To make the most of your trip, do check the forecasts for the cherry blossoms for that particular year since it keeps varying from year to year. Regarding expenses, a lot will depend on the kind of accommodation you choose (you can check prices on websites like ‘Myeongdong’ is a popular place to stay, shop and eat. You can have a decent meal for about $7-8. Subways cost about $1.3 per ride, taxis start from $3, coffee would be about $5 and so on. Yes, it is a very safe place, the weather is nice, subways take yiu everywhere and are very clean, people are helpful and the food is great! Lastly keep the google translator handy coz people don’t speak English much and maybe get a good guidebook like Lonelyplanet to help you plan better. Hope this was helpful 🙂

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