April 18, 2013


The average Korean man lives with his parents until he has saved enough money for marriage, plays a lot of video games, spends a few years doing mandatory military service, avoids sitting beside me on subways, partakes in heavy drinking sessions with his buddies or colleagues, and occasionally dispenses solid relationship advice:

If you want just that she beat you
then you should keep annoying her
but if you want more than that
then you should treat her gently

April 17, 2013

A Mean Looking Booger

Regardless of language, religion, age, income, or intellectual capability, men from all over the world always have at least one topic of shared interest. One fine spring day, a Korean man and I were discussing a specific subset of this fascinating subject. 
Korean man: I think if she makeup perfectly and dress up then she will be more beautiful.  
Me: Yes, if she dresses up and covers her pimples she will be quite nice. I see a booger in her left nose hole though. 
Korean man: What is booger? "Arnab is a mean looking booger" - is it right? 
Me: No, that is bugger. Booger is a dried piece of snot. It is the thing you find when you pick your nose. 
Korean man: Ahh, I see.

April 07, 2013

End of the Long March

As my time in China came to an end, one of my final trips was to Yan'an. The small city in Shannxi province is a major stop on the red tourism circuit, as fans of Mao flock here to see the caves in which the Chairman once lived. The legendary Long March came to an end near Yan'an and a revolution was born. It was here that Mao and his comrades set up camp, and engineered their plans for domination of the Middle Kingdom.

From 1936 to 1948, the town functioned as the headquarters of the Communist Party of China. During World War II, the Japanese flattened the city through aerial bombing. The citizens stayed in cave dwellings during wartime. The Yangjialing house caves where Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai once lived and the accompanying auditorium and office buildings are the main stop for those on the Communist pilgrimage trail.

Yan'an is situated on a dusty plain surround by hills on all sides. The colossal Yan'an Revolutionary Memorial Museum, explains the tale of Mao, the rise of the Communist Party, and the corresponding increase in prosperity and power of a nation that had taken a back seat in world affairs until the past century. The museum had the the requisite Mao statue in the courtyard and gift store filled with Mao-morabilia. Apart from the propaganda pieces, a cliffside temple in the middle of the city is quite a sight to behold. Pagoda Hill also has some nice monuments and viewpoints on top. It is a relaxing spot to soak up the atmosphere after spending a long day basking in revolutionary glory.

We had a night train to catch to Beijing, but it seemed all the taxis were going in the opposite direction of the station after supper time. As the clock ticked ever closer to our departure time, my friend began to get jumpy. Finally we caught cab, but at the exact same moment two Chinese girls also caught it. My chivalrous nature took over, and I stepped aside and let them take the cab. The taxi driver refused to take them wherever they wanted to go and drove away. "What are you doing!? We have a train to catch!" my agitated travel buddy exclaimed. Seeing him gesticulate wildly, the girls asked if we needed any help. One of the two was ravishingly beautiful, and the other spoke a little English.

I showed the beauty my train ticket, and the other girl deduced that we wanted to go to the station. She suggested we cross the street and try there. I almost got run over by an oncoming truck, but the beauty pulled me to safety just in the nick of time. Some minutes later we found a taxi, and the ladies directed the driver to take us to the station posthaste. I bid them a melancholic farewell. Once in the cab, I wistfully remarked that I should have torn up the ticket and stayed in Yan'an - the "Cradle of Chinese Revolution". "My god, I have never seen anyone fall in love so fast." my friend said, shaking his head.


"We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view." - Mao Zedong 

April 05, 2013

Battlefield Korea

Some of my friends across the world have inquired about the current scenario in the war zone that is the Korean Peninsula. So far life goes on as usual, although the Canadian Embassy did issue a special bulletin about the tense situation:
The Government of Canada's travel advice for the Republic of Korea remains "Exercise normal security precautions". However, we advise Canadians to continue to monitor developments closely as tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little warning. 
Tensions have increased on the Korean peninsula as a result of North Korea's ongoing nuclear weapons development program. In April and December 2012, North Korea attempted to launch two missiles into orbit, and on February 12, 2013, performed a nuclear weapon test. Additional tests cannot be ruled out. On March 11, 2013, North Korea issued a statement declaring that the Korean Armistice Agreement is invalid. While past threats made by the North to nullify this agreement have gone unfulfilled, further provocative action could occur. Canadians in the Republic of Korea should be vigilant, monitor developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
South Koreans are astonishingly nonchalant about the possibility of being annihilated by the North. Most folks continue to spend their days absorbed by their smartphones, labouring for long hours at the office, reconstructing their facial features, or playing video games. This situation has been playing out for sixty years, so it has become background noise for the citizens of the South. Worrying about the daily trivialities of life already takes up all their waking hours, leaving little room for thought about the larger issues that affect us all.

April 01, 2013

Smartphone Envy

Me: It's Korean and very small.
American guy: Wait a minute… are we still talking about your phone?  

In the conformist Republic of Korea, citizens judge each other based on their appearance and possessions. Having the latest smartphone model is one such status marker. Many halfwits with low paying jobs or beauties with no discernable occupations can be seen walking around with the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S flagship model in hand. My underpowered phone is not even available for sale in Korea and looked upon with scorn by the masses.