Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cuba and kimchi

This post is dedicated to Sarah for her encouragement to keep writing. Love you friend.

I don't know how I ever complained about weather before. The weather here in Seoul is more humid and hot and muggy than I could have imagined. I actually started to laugh out loud today as I was walking home. It just seemed so ridiculous to me, the air being so hot and humid. I laughed. One of the ways I have learned to deal with the air here, besides persistently wiping my face and neck with my handkerchief, is to keep my ipod securely in my ears at all times. For years I have been a fan of a Cuban hip hop group called Orishas. I totally recommend them to anyone and everyone. They are the best of latin music and hiphop married. I have even found a Spanish radio station on itunes that I play while I am at home (sitting under my blessed air conditioner!) Somehow, listening to the music, I can pretend I am in some latin country, where women wear long bright skirts, fruit is exotic and fragrant in the air, and adorable brown children laugh with glee as they run through the streets. Where people laugh loudly and freely. Where it is ok to smile at strangers. Where I feel comfortable.
To be honest, I am really ok living here in Korea. I have learned to appreciate parts of the life here that I am sure to miss when I leave it. There are parts of my life that I love here and I know that God brought me here for good. I have seen His goodness poured out to me in this year here. But its not my home. I am still all too aware of how I am 3 times the size of the women here. Even the obese women here don't come close to me. I am sad every time I see a white person on the street and as I pass them, I don't smile. I don't acknowledge them. And if they have been here for more than a few weeks, they do the same. We have accepted the norms here.
On the train today, I was in a part of town that has few foreigners so I was surprised when a young white guy got on the train and stood not even a foot away from me. The train was crowded and we were so close, and facing each other. Both of us keep our eyes averted. He has obviously lived here long enough to know that we aren't supposed to make eye contact. We rode in such a manner for 20 minutes until my stop arrived and I pushed past him to get off the train.
I know some of you are going to tell me to just talk to them, to make eye contact, to go against the Korean norm. But I just can't. I mean, I can if I fight it, but it feels so wrong here.
And so to make myself feel more comfortable in the intense heat of the day, and the awkwardness of my extremely latina personality in this Korean culture, I play my Cuban hiphop. And for a minute, I don't feel so bothered by the humidity, nor do I feel so awkward. That is, until a wave of kimchi flavored air blows into my face, waking me up to the reality before me. Ah, kimchi.

Lord may you teach me to live in the present, learn from the past, and trust You with the future.

1 comment:

Kimmen said...

interesting observations -- i'd like to see more like this!