Monday, 12 November 2007

Cold

The title sums up this post well: it's cold, and I have a cold. In fact the minimum temperature at the moment (about 5C) is probably warm compared to the UK (or Finland), and perhaps I need to remind myself it is the middle of November. However, if my first complaint is somewhat unjustified my second is doubly justified. You see, my first Korean cold is much worse than your typical English cold (possibly a consequence of being in a new environment meaning that the cold viruses are sufficiently different to be more of a shock to my immune system -- if any doctory type people reading this want to confirm or deny my suspicion please do so). One possible explanation is that I actually have SARS and am just really tough. Anyway, on Friday morning I was surprisingly tired after an hour of table-tennis, which usually just serves as a nice appetite builder for lunch. It turned out that this unusual fatigue wasn't just because Jin had beaten me, and by the evening I had the tell-tale tickling throat and nose. That night I was slowly transformed into a disorientated zombie, with aching body and so much pressure behind my eyeballs I thought my head would explode. I spent the weekend mostly bed-ridden. Two consequences of this were that I had my first experience of Korean medicine (which seems based upon the principle that if the medicine is repulsive enough the patient will do everything in his power to recover and thus avoid having to take any more), and I read "Life of Pi" from cover to cover (which if you haven't read it is absolutely brilliant). Today I am feeling partially recovered and managed to venture out to a cafe with internet access, from where I now write.

Anyway, some other things have happened since my last post, so I won't spend any more time telling you what a cold is like. Last weekend Jin's younger sister moved out of her parents house. Apparently there had been some family friction before we arrived, and after we arrived she had been forced to share a room with Jin (there being only two rooms available, and an unmarried man and women sharing a room being totally unthinkable) which provided the impetus for her to find a place of her own. Still, it looks like things worked out alright, her new single-roomed apartment we helped to clean was small but in a reasonable condition, and after it had been furnished with bed, tables, cupboards and the like it started to look quite homely. I hope she will be happy there.

On the same day, Jin and I were walking back to her sister's flat after going out for some lunch when we were barked at by an old man passing us in the street. The exact noise is difficult to describe but it was clearly a sign of contempt. I was walking in my usual day-dream and so it took me a few seconds to even realise it had happened, but Jin was rather shocked and responded with a rapid and doubtlessly offensive string of Korean. It's not clear whether he was unhappy because I was foriegn or just because we were holding hands (public display of affection is still shocking to the older generation in Korea, in fact when Jin and I arrived we decided we'd have to be much more discreet than in the UK, a policy which lasted less than a week...), but whatever the case it was rather unpleasent. Fortunately though it's the first time something like that has happened and on the whole people have responded to seeing Jin and I together with interest rather than hostility.

More tomorrow...

5 comments:

ned said...

eat meat to improve immunity.
dad

Amoeba said...

take care Mark!

Most people in Asian countries tend to be more reserved and less open. Gossips travel fast too. Go do some proper "stakeholder management" with Jin's relatives and friends!

Pey Shan

Pie said...

Well I cannot imagine that happens in Thailand though (but I do not have any experience since I cannot physically become a foreigner in Thailand). I think some people may disapprove but I have not heard of a verbally attack. Anyway, that old guy may just be mad or some foreigner probably stole his girlfriend in the past!!

mark said...

Peyshan I would take your advice but I have no idea what "stakeholder management" is :P. Pie, are you suggesting Jin and I should come and live with you in Thailand instead? Actually I do have a craving for some dried mango...

Ant said...

I think the presence of an Englishman and an American in Finland is provoking stranger phenomena... We were in a bar last week, where we were chatting with some pretty Finnish girls (like you do), and somehow we ended up dancing with them. Well, not really with them because they seemed a little bit too preoccupied with dancing with each other. But we patiently danced around them, when suddenly they started passionately kissing each other. We didn't know what to do! So we just kept dancing whilst -- somehow I don't think we have grasped Finnish culture yet!