A Nice Slice of Life
So after a dinner of barbecued pork (the cut: 목삼겹, translation: neck bacon) my pregnant wife asked for some 7-up and my mother-in-law asked for some beer, so I ran out to the World Mart in the Chunui-dong section of Bucheon. I got there and grabbed a bottle of Chilsung Cider (basically 7-up) and one of Hite Max (basically Budweiser) and got in the only line open. There were three women in line in front of me, a South Asian man in front of them, and a woman in front of him being rung up. The three women each had a lot of groceries, and the man had a large drum of soy bean oil. The women conferred with each other, gesturing to me as I idly listened to my iPod. Finally one of the women said to me ‘먼저 가세요’ (‘You go ahead’) and the three women all let me cut them in line. I thanked them and took my place behind the man. I was rung up in short order and walked out the door the man was waiting for me on his scooter.
‘어디나라사람이에요? (‘What country are you from?’) Are you Muslim?’ He asked me.
‘난 미국인이에요,’ (‘I’m American.’) I shot back without thinking twice. then I tried to make a short list in my head of the countries where people who look like me are Muslims, and came up with either three countries or one former one. ‘How about you?’
‘Pakistan. 타세요.’ (‘Hop on.’)
I looked at his scooter. I had never ridden one, let alone ridden on the back of one. I hesitantly got on, heedless of the fact that I was holding on slightly more enthusiastically than perhaps it was proper to, and we glided down the road.
It is, incidentally, surprisingly easy to balance when you’re riding on the back of a scooter. I was impressed.
It turns out my new friend, Raja, lives quite close to where I live. We exchanged phone numbers and although next week is finals at Yonsei I will be sure to get together with him as soon as I can. Nice folks all around, eh?