hot coffee weather

Monday, September 19, 2011

It’s Monday here, but Sunday somewhere, and also, it’s almost cool enough to acceptably drink hot coffee. !  I’ve had several (er, two) requests to post more photos, but the truth is, I haven’t taken many lately. I don’t always bring my camera for a couple of reasons. For one, I lose things.  I’m trying to be better as I get older, and I’d say I’m succeeding. But also, once I take my camera out, it’s out for the rest of the day, and I find it can cut the experience short. I’m instantly sucked to the safe side of the lens, a place of solid observation, and I miss the whole point of why I went exploring in the first place. I’m focused on everything around me. looking for moments of opportunity, instead of letting everything around me just be. Sometimes I want to be in this space and nowhere else, and sometimes I’d rather be out from behind to let the moment be captured as it will. Preferably drinking coffee. Did I just age myself to a seventy-two year old man?

But you’re right, MJ and Niki, and I like your requests. I want you to see what I see until you can go where I go. (Have I told you how much I love visitors?)

Seoul is not like any city I’ve been to. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, and it may take awhile. Seoul is massive. Efficient. Not especially pretty, but weirdly quiet, considering its size. You won’t hear a cacophony of honking horns like you do in New York, yet the streets are filled with cars, motorbikes, and bicycles. Our street smells faintly of garlic, which I’ve never noticed until someone mentioned it a few days ago, and on Sundays, a group of men play soccer on the field down the block. We’ve got a market around the corner for basic necessities and a bakery with great croissants and egg salad sandwiches around another corner. On the walk to some good neighborhood coffee, a mechanic is always working on some old car or another.

Thomas is the man who takes care of our building.  He’s either perched in his office eating lunch, perched in his office playing Go with a friend, or walking outside with a broom tidying up the space around our building.  Every day I say hello to him in Korean, and every day he responds with “Good morniiiiing!”  I’m going to have lunch with Thomas one day.  Or better yet, maybe we’ll invite him up to our apartment for dinner.  I wonder if he’s ever had a BLT.

Outside of a sushi place we like, a man sells herbs from a truck.  He told us the popular plants go quickly, so I plan to go earlier than 10 pm next time so I can get my hands on some basil.  The space next to May-may and Melissa is ready.

Every Friday at school, we have show and tell.  In theory, it’s the perfect way for students to describe their favorite belongings in English. In reality, they prefer to use this time as an excuse to bounce around the room, chatter away in Korean, and generally act like life-sized cartoon characters.  You can’t really blame them. Hell, I’d probably do the same, and sometimes I seriously consider joining them. Last Friday was “favorite t-shirt” day. It may come as no surprise to you that the proud owner of the t-shirt below has the best vocabulary in the school. He’s six.

Because this city is so big, I decided I’m going to take it one stretch at a time and  explore a new neighborhood on weekends. I’ll have to pick from twenty-five districts (twenty-five!), but I figure if I choose a new district each month, I’ll have seen  a good portion of the city by the time next September rolls around. My own neighborhood still makes me dizzy, so I’m going to start here.  See you next week.

  • Nikoline

    I love to see what you see! And I’m amazed that the kids t-shirt has been ironed. Is that how they do it in Seoul? Or was that just for show and tell?

  • Keiteu F Cheney

    I translated your coffee menu in order (incase it helps!) It’s mostly loan words:

    kapi late
    kapi moka
    karamel makkiatto
    moka pulapuchino (my guess is that it a mocha cappuchino?)
    karamel pulapuchino
    apogatto (that explains why this isn’t in the hot/iced columns, delicious!)
    onulmwo kopi or onurmwo kopi (no clue…)

  • Keiteu F Cheney

    Pulapuchino is frappachino I think…

  • Annie Kuensting

    Every time I get to the end of your writing, I am disappointed. I want it to go on forever…WRITE MORE!!!! You are so talented. And I love seeing your world, it’s fascinating. Miss you buttercup!