Friday, January 31, 2003

Speaking Strange and Cultural Jokes

Perhaps the strangest question I have yet been asked in Korea is "Que hablas espanol?" I was in a cab on my way home to change so I could go to work, after a crazy round trip to Daejun to meet the boy. The weekend was nice, they boy and I spent a Sunday together exploring a foreign market, foreign pc bon, foreign dvd bong, and foreign yakwon (foreign in that they were not in our respective cities) and then parted early Monday morning for our respective commutes back to our respective cities to work.

Then I got out of the bus, and into a cab, as I live a lot further from my bus station than the boy does from his. On entering the cab I told him in which direction to head and settled in for the twenty minute trip to my home. As we pulled out and around the corner the driver asked me if I spoke Spanish. It was the strangest damned thing. Nothing is stranger then being in Korea, talking to a Korean in a bizarre mix of Spanish, Korean, and English.

During the conversation I learned that the gentleman had spent about 18 years in Madrid, and had also traveled through Mexico, and most of South America. He also spent a few weeks on the Ivory Coast of Africa. Fortunately I could understand pretty much everything he said to me in Spanish. Unfortunately my problem with speaking in Spanish has not really improved all that much since leaving the Settlement house and Chicago in general. Que lastima.

This has been a nice work week, nice and short, as today is the first day off for the Chinese Lunar New Year. So far it has been very quiet in Daegu as tradition dictates that you must return to your ancestral home to celebrate the holiday. The Big Boss sorta of invited me and explained to me why I should not go with him, at the same time on Wednesday. He said that there would mostly be a lot of fishing and eating and bowing, so I would be very bored. Traffic is very bad during this time of year most of it leaving the big cities and heading into the country. Think Memorial Day weekend times 50, since everyone is socially required to travel to their parents home. Yikes. However, traffic in Daegu is pretty light as more people are leaving Daegu than coming to it.

As for me, I managed to finish the first of five workbooks that I need to have finished by the end of February. It looks like the new school is definitely a go, and after some contract wrangling it looks as if I will be here for at least another year although I haven't signed on the dotted line yet. I will have a raise, a longer vacation, and hopefully a new washing machine, as mine broke about two weeks ago and I need clean clothes.

Finally,  I will share with you a joke that probably only makes sense if you are in Korea. The Big Boss's wife came by the office the other evening and was here when one of the backers for the new school was in. He was being very polite and about to leave when he started to make very very deep bows towards Mrs. Big Boss. Now the Big Boss started laughing, as did the secretary, and the backer was laughing as well. Mrs. Big Boss looked annoyed and amused, and I realized why after I thought about it for a few minutes. A deep bow is generally reserved for ones grandparents, so by giving the deep bow he was essentially saying that Mrs. Big Boss was old. Ha ha.

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