Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh Korea...

Some days I'm so overwhelmed by you and other days I rue the day you were born. Ok it's usually only a few minutes of  expatriate ranting and a few pouts. But everyday you bring something new and interesting to my life. For instance the joys of Premium Gold toothpaste with real flecks of Gold in it or your culinary ability to get me... hater of all things slimy to try octopus jello and squid tentacles. Who knew the sweet joys you would brings to my life. But let me digress and talk about the not so spectacular language barrier. Now don't get me wrong ladies and gentlemen, I fully expected to have some language difficulties. I was under no misconception there. However, I've been told by many Koreans that I pronounce Korean like a Korean this had made me more confident in my language endeavors. Now I don't knhe cab drivers and E-Mart sales people are on some other wavelength, but they do not share the same sentiment. It could very well be that they see my almost 6 ft, African-American self, and think how could anything other than English come out my mouth. They could be in a daze from my big eyes and dazzling good looks. I'm not really sure. Let me give you a prime example of this most magical occurrence.
The other day I was on my way to the Korean Immigration Office to pick up my Alien Registration Card. Having made my way to Seoul before, Fran and I make good time on the train. In order to cut out transferring trains, we decide to cab it from  a station not too far from my intended destination. Earlier that day I wrote down the address in romanized Korean and even practiced the pronunciation. In a furious hurry Fran and I climb what seems like a never ending flight of stairs ( while Fran gets to use her favorite Korean phrase "Bali, bali" which means hurry up).As we reach the street and flag a taxi, both of us panting heavily, we take a moment and compose ourselves. Pulling out the address I read it to the cabbie. " Bo?" he responds. Ugh...Houston we have a problem! I show him the paper and say it again. Then I give in and give him the name of the nearest train station to the Immigration office. As we pull up to the station... I try one last time. Saying the address and showing him the paper. He looks at the paper again and in Koringlsh he says "address?" then repeats the address I told him earlier in Korean. OMG.... that's what I just said!  Now late to pick up my card, I am furious, but I keep my composure as Fran shakes her head. I think I might have to get a shirt in Korean that says " I just said that!"  Another of " I.J.S.T" was just yesterday on our way to the KBL game. We get in yet another cab on our way to the stadium, I tell the cabbie the address and once again " Bo?" I repeat the address! Frustrated by this little man, I call Ms.Kim (yes she is on speed dial) , I hand the phone to the driver, "Odeso?" He says.... " Ney, Ney!" Then repeats the SAME address I told him. Yet another instance of " I just said that! Oh the joys you bring me Korea! So, I willl you posted on the " I just said that" Show, Until  next time!

Confucius say: When attempting to communicate with foreign cabbies, one would do well to purchase a voice recorder or possibly an easy button... "I just said that"....

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