Poor Arnab... Indian black hairy IT nerdThe description sounds tragedy enough...
Friday, December 6, 2013
A pretty Chinese girl expressed her sympathy for me after hearing about my sad state of affairs with K-girls:
Monday, December 2, 2013
On the surface, Seoul is the most perfect place I have lived in. The benefits of living in the Korean megapolis are aplenty:
- All manner of commercial establishments stay open day and night
- An extensive public transit system augmented with moderately priced cabs
- Safe and clean environs with an honest and hygienic populace
- High speed trains and express buses which allow me to easily explore the rest of the country on weekends
- Blazing fast broadband and wireless internet speeds
- Main courses at restaurants that come with a healthy assortment of side dishes, which are refilled for free
- Public restrooms are easily available so I do not have to improvise during emergencies
- New shipments of K-girls roll out of the beauty factories of Sinsa and Apgujeong at regularly scheduled intervals
- Heated floors
- Toilets can wash and dry nether regions at the push of a button (if pressed in the correct order)
Once you peel away the layers of benefits afforded by the 24/7 conveniences of Korean life, the rotten core is revealed. A society catapulted from subsistence to modernity in a handful of decades always leaves some behind. Alcoholism, prostitution, domestic abuse, plastic surgery, video game addiction, chronic mistreatment of international heartthrobs, and long hours at the office are commonplace.
Most struggle day to day to keep up appearances and conform to societal norms, to show their friends and neighbours that they are just as successful as them (or slightly more so), and to push themselves and their offspring into continuing the loop of never-ending education and work required to accumulate additional wealth and status.
It comes as no surprise that South Korea is annually number one in the world suicide rankings. Samsung tried to convert the suicide hotspot of Mapo Bridge into a place where such deadly actions could be averted. Portions of the railings on the interactive Bridge of Life light up with message beacons as one walks by.
A string of hopeful phrases written in Korean bring about anticipation of a better future or elicit recollections of happy times - “A loved one waiting for you at home.”, “The best is yet to come.”, and so on. Unfortunately suicides actually went up after the conversion of the bridge, as the publicity it created drew more members of society to its edge.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Korean BBQ restaurants are immensely popular for dinner, especially to commemorate celebratory occasions. For the birthday of a Danish friend, we ventured to a busy barbecue house in a lively student area in Seoul. Although the meat and accompaniments are provided by the BBQ restaurant, the cooking is usually done by the diners themselves. They have to carefully transfer the meat from the plate it sits on and place it on the barbecue.
The pieces of meat have to be turned over in a timely fashion so that they do not get charred or stuck to the grill. Scissors can be used to cut the meat into more manageable chunks. Adjustable overhead vents suck up the smoke. Clothes can be stuffed in to large plastic bags or in the empty space underneath ones seat, so that they do not end up smelling of juicy strips of pork or beef.
We could tell that at this particular restaurant the meat was very fresh. When it was brought to our table it was still in the original wrapping from the grocery store it was purchased from, complete with price tag. I kept the price tag (410g of beef for 41,000 Korean won) as a souvenir. As the night continued, we ended up at a bar. Outside the restroom I was waiting in line behind a beauty, who noticed the price tag affixed to my chest.
K-girl: You are beef?
Me: Do you like beef?
K-girl: No... I like pork.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
Three old friends from my Beijing days and I reunited after a few years for a weeklong trip to Myanmar (previously known as Burma). The people of Myanmar were friendly, helpful, and full of warmth. Even though they did not possess abundant quantities of material wealth, most people we encountered were clever enough. While the masses of smartphone wielding drones in Korean sport a vacant look around the clock, the Myanmarians had that distinct sharpness in their eyes that belies a certain awareness of their surroundings. They also did not appear to be made from plastic.
On the topic of plastic, access to cash using internationally issued credit or debit cards is now a viable alternative to carrying large wads of US dollars as ATM’s made their way to Myanmar a year or two before I did. The nation was generally closed off to the West for the greater part of the past few decades, only opening up recently as it slowly transitions from military rule to democracy. American brands are not readily visible, although signs of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean investment into the gold rush of economic development that awaits Myanmar were apparent.
The Myanmarians still use their traditional forms of dress and makeup in day to day life. This meant full length body hugging outfits for the women, their faces coated with a paste that functions as both sunscreen and beauty product, and loose sarongs for the men. The English level was decent everywhere we went, so there was little problem in communication. Of course after being in Korea, my standards for judging English competency have slipped as low as K-girls’ standards in selecting their mates.
The infrastructure was much better than nearby Laos and Cambodia, but Myanmar dwarfs these nations with a population exceeding 60 million inhabitants. Even with an established transportation system, moving about was still a hair-raising experience. We took all forms of transit available to us - trains, taxis, buses, bicycles, backs of trucks with the open tailgate functioning as the platform for more passengers to stand upon, and horse carts to name a few - to make our way from Yangon to Mandalay, with stops in Bagan and Inle in between.