Coming back from India, missing friends and family, the food and noise and the lovely, warm sun, it isn't easy to get back to the normal routine in Korea. Just can't get rid of this homesickness :( Not that i was trying. Fighting the cold, remembering to wear heavy layers before i step out of the door, I decided to venture into the city which would be my home for sometime now, after too many days of self-imposed solitary confinement.
The Very Sweet Iron Man
I decided to do a good deed and get back the clothes that my husband had dropped off for ironing. The iron shop is about a kilometer away from home. I walked cheerfully but the wind was too piercing, too cold. Braving through it, i told the Korean the few words that i hoped he would know in English. "Pickup". "Senthil". The baffled man recovered, quite fast and replied: "Saint hill, 15?" Yeah. Mission accomplished. He picked out all of the right clothes, packed it all for me, got the payment from me, and asked me: "Teksi?". "Anneyo", i replied confidently, "walking". He kept on showing me how heavy the load was. "I can carry 15 pants and shirts", remembering how i had to carry my son on my left hand for 2-3 hours at a time, when he was a baby as he would never be happy except with me and my left hand. Still, he kept on mumbling. He graciously helped me with my back pack, waited until i wore my gloves and cap and handed me the clothes in the compactly packed coat-bag. He even demonstrated the best way to carry it and how my way was wrong. Convinced that i understood, he opened the door, let me out and again made sure i didnt need a teksi. All smiles at the attention and help i got from this man, i walked happily towards home. By the time i reached home, the 15 items seemed very heavy and i was determined that Sainthill should be paying better attention to me or he is not getting any good deeds from me.
The Wonderful Waxer
It is so easy to get the eyebrows tweezed in India. Every corner has a beauty parlor where you could get it done for 20 bucks.
Here, i have to get my eyebrows waxed. It is every bit scary and painful as it sounds. I guess this is a necessary pain. I had made an appointment for this torture and showed up 15 mins early to the place. The moment i start taking off my jacket i find a fellow standing next to me with his arms wide open, perplexed, i look at him and he takes my jacket off my shoulders in one swift movement. I was taken to the small, comfortable room where some one helped me off with my snow boots. My snow boots. She jippered it off for me! I lied down in the bed, visualizing my pain, the lady sweet-talked with me to help ease the tension while ripping off the extra hairs on my eyebrows. The process was excruciating, though she was mumbling "its ok", "its ok" like a mom comforting a baby after the injections. She applied the orange flavored liquid which smelt good more than anything and declared that my eyebrows looked perfect. Again, she jippered on my snow boots, jippered my jacket which the guy was holding with open arms, held the backpack for me to slip my hands in and opened the door for me. Wow! I thanked them profusely while they Annyeonghaseo-ed me. By the time i walked home, Sainthill was in big trouble. He has Never Ever helped me with my jacket- on or off. Never even opened a door for me.
The Pretty Lady in Blue
Seoul's climate is wild. It just takes minutes to see a sunny day turn cloudy and rainy and back to being sunny again. And Koreans are magicians. They whip out an umbrella out of nowhere and slip it into oblivion equally fast. This happened before i had discovered their secret weapon. (The weather app which gives the weather details for each hour of the day.)
We came out of the subway station and had to walk a few hundred metres to reach the mall. It started pouring. Everybody around us popped out an umbrella and kept on walking just as before. I was shivering and trying to push through the crowd to the safety of the mall, without seeming rude. Suddenly, this lady closest to me, pulled me under her umbrella. She held me close, made sure i was dry until we reached the mall entrance. She disappeared just as she appeared close to me, before i could voice my gratitude. "How wonderfully kind people these Koreans are", I think. I turned back to see Sainthill thanking another younger lady fashionably dressed in blue for taking him under her umbrella... I wasn't impressed with this particular lady. "It was not raining too hard, was it?" I started to Sainthill.