The Very First Korea Experience(s)

As I sit here and think about all the myriad ways I could steer this blog into, I thought maybe its finally time to talk about some my first experiences in Korea. I feel every day is a learning process; we take in bits of information, translate them in our brain, let those thoughts become actions and eventually and unknowingly let those actions form habits. These habits then go on to define who we are.  Not only does this affect the way we perceive the world but also goes on to prove the fact that we do let a little of ourselves die so as to leave space for a newer, renewed self.

But there are those days where we to have to deal with revolutionary changes. Fundamental changes to how you eat, sleep, behave, shit and talk. The time I took on that Korean Arlines Flight K790 to seoul epitomizes this change perfectly.

The Flight K790

Leaving your family behind was not a new experience for me at all although it was usually my family who left me behind. Having to grow up in a residential school meant that separating from your loved once wasn’t all that too difficult. I thought separation with your pals was much more of a headache. I said my goodbyes and got into that plane bound to take me to a place where, if you had asked me a year ago if I thought about going there, I would have answered, “hahaha are you f(*&ing nuts?” I could see why my guidance consoler thought I was crazy.  

And here I was.

“This is your captain speaking,” came out a harsh husky voice. I could barely make out the word “Captain” and “speaking” as the voice seemed like somebody just drank a bottle of Mautai and got his voice box all screwed.  Little did I know that the Captain was actually “fluent” in English. “Welcome to flight K790, the temperature outside is 23 degree centigrade, the weather is slightly cloudy and we are expected to land in Seoul in about 7 hours. Enjoy your flight.”  And just like that, the plane took off over Kathmandu and off into the distant skies.

Meanwhile inside, I was busy getting cozy in my seat. My ticket had been upgraded to first class (I think its called the prestige class or something) and I had all these fancy looking buttons which I did NOT hesitate to press on.  First, there were these buttons which gave you total control of your seat. So much control, that you could move each portion of your ass and position it just the place you want it to be. There were also these buttons where you could annoy the airhostess and ask them irrelevant questions.  After all, I was a prestige class passenger. Clearly, the other passengers thought I was in the wrong portion of the plane.

The Toilet:

The transition from talking from a prestige class seat to a toilet seat might not be ideal but that’s the way my brain’s been working at the moment. All I can picture now is the panic in my face when I realized that there was no tap inside the place where you do no.2 (as they say, the longer business). Usually in Nepal, the concept of using a toilet paper after you have done your “business” is such an abstract idea that people will think that using a paper to wipe your ass does not really clean your ass. It is as simple as that. 

We usually use water (although providing further details might make you want to press the “x” button on your top right screen)  so when I saw that there was no tap inside the toilet, I freaked out. I thought that was an “architectural” problem so I checked out the other toilets. All SAME! As it turns out, Koreans, like the rest of the developed world, don’t use water at all. I don’t know how they all can give these big conferences on the need to save trees when they have been using pulps and pulps of paper all their lives.

The Bath

Everyone's freakn' Naked!
It's even worse for a brown guy on his first trip. I have to say, everyone turns their head to look at you the moment you announce yourself.

The Chopsticks

I don’t know who came with the idea of using two sticks to pick up stuff and put it in your mouth but I think the person who pioneered must have been drunk when he came up with the idea.  I think we all are born with a tool that works perfectly fine when we have to shove food into our mouths and I don’t think we need any extra help. Of course, you might want to counter argue this by saying that the food might burn the fingers and that it could be a certain sanitation problem BUT try saying that to South Asians. We have been using fingers all our lives and I think I still believe that to truly enjoy food, we should make use our inborn tool.

Well since I was in Korea, I had to learn how to use the chopsticks. So in my first day, in my first meal, I got hold of the two stainless steel chopsticks and made an attempt to eat the mackerel that was in front of me. Half an hour on the clock and I still hadn’t had my first bite. Even the dead fish gave me a quick smile and said,”Hey buddy, use your hands.” And so I did, much annoyance to most around me.

Soju

I had heard a lot about soju but never tried it. So this day, I decided to change just that. Walking all the way down to Nakseongde Market, I bought a bottle for myself, went into a restaurant and sat down. It was only after I asked for a glass that people started turning their heads.

I didn’t care much at first. There is this brown indian looking who speaks no Korean but looks handsome *cough* drinking a bottle of soju. It must have been amusing. I would have loved to see a Korean enter a bhatti and ask for a glass of local. How interesting would that be?

It was only after the owner came to me and gave me a free meal that I thought, maybe, maybeeee something was fishy. Do you always get a free meal when you have a bottle of Soju? After I had the meal and thanked everyone for their attention, I hurried back to ask why people were acting strange. As it turns out, I was not supposed to drink the Soju alone. It’s the last thing people do before they commit suicide it seems. No wonder the owner was so kind.

"Never ever drink soju alone," freaked out a friend of mine when I told him the story.
I never had soju alone after that.


Yeah that should be it for now, I am off for beer tasting. I am working on this top secret project which everyone knows soo yeah take it easy. Cheers!




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