Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Final Countdown

Only a few days left in Seoul (sniff) and there' s lots to see and do.

It was Valentine's Day this past week and here, girls give their boyfriends chocolate. Boys reciprocate next month on the 14th with "White Day" and bitter singles can drown their sorrows on the 14th of April with "Black Day." On Black Day, you eat black noodles with your other single friends (not like I'd need that excuse - I eat them all the time - yum!).

Anywho, the two male cousins I'm staying with were showered with tons of chocolate. I reap the benefits. I almost never see my cousins because they, like other young professional men in Seoul, work crazy long hours, augmented by nights when they are supposed to go out with colleagues to drink and sing karaoke. They fit in hobbies and girlfriends around that which means that they literally come home just to sleep, usually after I'm in bed, and they leave early in the morning in their suits and ties to go to work.

They had their fill of their Valentine's chocolates and left the rest on the kitchen table. I have a few every morning with breakfast. I'm on vacation!

Yesterday I met up with Hannah, a friend of Isaac's from art school in Vancouver. I like Hannah so much. She is hilar. AND she has a scooter! Scooters rule! I felt like all the middle-aged ajuhsee's (the male equivalent of "ajummah") who drive around on scooters delivering black noodles (you don't just eat them on April 14!). Food home delivery is always brought on scooters and the drivers zip up on the sidewalk and basically drive like crazy. I told Hannah we should find an ajuhsee delivery guy and drag race him. We just laughed and gently scooted down the street to a restaurant where we had octopus in spicy red sauce, cooked on our table. I love everything I eat here, generally, but this wasn't my favourite lunch on earth. It was a little too chewy.

Anyway, after a lovely lunchtime chat, we parted ways and my aunt, uncle and mom pulled up in their car to scoop me up. We were going on a tour of MBC which my uncle arranged. I guess the feeling was that I would enjoy a tour of a television station since I work in TV, but at around the time that the tour brought us to the news team's editing suites, I started to feel panicky and tense. You know, the feelings you get at work. NO THANKS!

The tour, for me, was like touring my own workplace but with better equipment. However, my aunt was having a field day as she spotted a zillion celebrities that she knows and loves. Because I don't watch Korean tv, nobody really meant anything to me but young women celebrities are the same the world over - way skinny!

In the evening, I met my mom's cousin for the first time. He's cool. He's a nuclear physicist and his English is really good because he used to live and work in the U.S. We talked a little about hobbies and politics over a 10-course fancy Chinese dinner. Afterward, he invited us all for karaoke at his house (karaoke is just what you do here - it's not a big deal - it's everyday). We tried to keep it down for the elderly neighbour upstairs.

He sang songs in Korean, English, French (he used to live in Paris, too) and Chinese (he studies it). Mom said that I wasn't allowed to just listen and that I had to sing a song. They were choosing songs by John Denver, Patti Page, Engelbert Humperdinck...I didn't know what to do. Looking over the song list, I realized that I don't know any songs all the way through - just choruses. Cornered, I picked Green Day's "Basketcase" because I figured that I'd recognize the tune once I heard the dulcet, elevator-music version of the intro. I did. But I had to laugh when the lyrics became: "I went to a shrink to analyze my dreams, she says it's lack of sex that's bringing me down/I went to a whore..." - I started to think, Darn, where does this story go again? Anywho, that was as risque as it got. And I ended up getting the karaoke "bug" and sang another song. I realized I know the tune to lots of Top 40 songs from the last 4.5 years (I wonder why). I sang "Wake Up" by Hilary Duff and scored a 90, thank you very much.


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