Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just a few thoughts tangentially related to Korea......

  • So the other day, I was at the Itaewon subway station after getting some Mexican food and a nice Negra Modelo when I bump into this friend who I'll call Fred. He's an English guy and so as we wait for the train, we chat a bit. He then introduces me to his American friend who I'll call Steve. Fred explains that I am a curious English/American hybrid and Steve says that he doesn't hear an American accent. I nearly wanted to kiss Steve at that point but, uh, he wasn't my type, ha. So then Fred says to Steve, well, you can have him. So once again, I'm neither British enough for Brits, nor American enough for Americans, a point that was roundly re-asserted to me during the World Cup when I really didn't know which team's colors I'd wear. I feel British and my passport says I am, but let's be honest, I've lived in California nearly 20 years and I love the place and I don't sound particularly British, I don't think. I like lots of things that Californians like, in many ways I am a Californian. And honestly, I'd like to be able to vote. I've never voted in my life. But living 12 of my first 16 years in one country, in my case Blighty has an effect on a person. As they say, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. The norms and mores I absorbed as a kid were by and large British. I may not sound British, but I feel it, regardless of which passport I might hold. Honestly, the words of John Lennon's "Imagine" - "imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do..." is a really wonderful thought for me.

  • So I don't think I'll ever get fully used to the different attitudes toward personal space in Korea (i.e. people can practically get to first base with you and it's not supposed to be an issue if you're in a public space) but I have adapted to a large degree. However, something happened the other day that was just strange. I had been in the supermarket and was taking the escalator down to the street level. I'd just got on, was probably 5 or 6 feet onto it and some guy walks on and puts his back against my back and pushes his trunk against my trunk. It was a bit strange. I turned around slowly but deliberately so the guy knew I wasn't too please and the guy overtook me and went on his way. There was no one else on the 80-90 ft. escalator and he literally was pressed up against me. It was...well....I've been felt up, um, I mean, I've ridden the subway enough here, that it's not a big deal. It was just weird.

  • I have now seen lines onto the street for Taco Bell. The end must be near. Seriously though, in Itaewon, a Taco Bell has opened up. Those of you in Korea who think Taco Bell is some admirable iteration of Mexican food, ignore Taco Bell and across the street from it and down about 10 meters is a restaurant called Taco Family which is a fantastic Mexican joint. A wide variety of burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, chimichangas that are much heartier, bigger, and more satisfying than those served at Plastic Mexican Food Joint. The decor is that of a stereotypical Mexican casa, the ol' Mexico style. Anyway, the portions are thousands of times bigger and much more satisfying. They serve beer also.

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