"Perhaps even these things, one day, will be pleasing to remember..." (Virgil)

Sat Jul 12, 2003

This week doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on me, so I suppose it was a fairly benevolent one, if you can characterize the passing of time as benevolent, that is. Yet I may also suppose that one’s daily trivia adds up to a life, and this is my life, as banal as it may be. So, let’s see what happened…

This week I composed a disco dance version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” which the kids really love. I’m thinking about choreographing some more wacky dance routines to go with some of the more stale nursery rhymes. Taking speech and drama in high-school is finally paying off!

I over-dosed on birthday cake along with the kids at the birthday party, but there were no casualties. It was Rebecca and Monica’s birthday and Won-Jang-Nim wanted ‘cute’ pictures of them. So we made poor Timothy and William kiss them on the cheek, but they did it so fast that we couldn’t get the shot. So we made them do it several times more before giving up. Timothy was mortified, the poor boy, when you’re six years old girls are decidedly ‘yucky’!

In my morning class the boys have gotten quite bored with telling me everyday what they did yesterday in the conversation part of the lesson. So now they’re making up stories about tiny pink elephants living in their bathroom and other such nonsense, which I encouraged at first to stimulate their imagination. Now it’s hard to get them to stop.

I took two of my adult students out to dinner at this fancy restaurant with the full intention of being the host and paying for it, determined to do so for once in this impossibly hospitable country. I was, however, compelled to run to the washroom at one point, whereupon they seized the opportunity to pre-empt my generosity and pay for it all. Koreans certainly have a keen sense of reciprocity, every time I’ve paid for dinner, I’ve been almost immediately invited by that person for another dinner so they could have their turn.

I’m certain now that the plumes of white gas spewed out every night by those noisy trucks is quite toxic. Nardus (my Afrikaans friend) related to me how he was forced to walk through such a gas-cloud on his way home and discovered the next day that the paint had started to peel from his brand new Doc Martins. Nardus also confirmed that the seeming abundance of barber-shops in some shadier neighbourhoods are due to the fact that some of them are merely masquerading as barber shops. Yes, indeed, in Korea you can get your hair cut with ‘extra special service’ from the ladies inside. The first time I had my hair cut I had wondered why several attractive ladies were just hanging about watching me get my hair cut. Then the gentleman hairdresser asked me if I wanted ‘extra service’, I thought he just meant a shampoo so I declined, and will continue to do so in the future I assure you, gentle reader.

Last night Debbie invited us all out for dinner in Ilsan to show us her new apartment. One of our former teachers drove us there, but we got lost of course. I say ‘of course’ because streets here have no names and I’m still completely befuddled as to how anyone successfully locates addresses in Korea. I know there are zones, or ‘dongs’ but beyond that, it’s like trying to navigate a rat’s maze. I believe it has something to do with the name of the building. Anyway, we found our way eventually and had a good barbecue-style dinner and relaxed with some soju and beer. Debbie’s new place is really nice, but small, in fact for the amount she’s renting it for, you could get a house in Canada. In South Korea you have to place an initial deposit of a year’s rent on an apartment if you want to rent it, which you get back when you leave. Debbie’s deposit was something in the region of $30000! Nobody (but the wealthiest elite) lives in houses of course, there’s just no space, this country has one of the highest population densities in the world.

Today I bought some new shoes! They look spiffy.

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