Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

This place is full of surprises.

Downtown Daegu is funny, a grid of major highways, little narrow streets with sidewalks where cars and pedestrians commingle, and little dark alleyways lined with teensy shops, or sometimes just bricks; you never know.

Luke, Ray, Joanna (teacher at our Samduk school) and I went down one of those alleyways today, to a nice little Mexican restaurant, very cozy, good food (I had nachos grande, as I knew that was one thing not cooked in lard). The cook speaks Korean, English and Spanish (as his grandfather is from Spain). And it just isn't a real Mexican restaurant without free side orders of Korean popcorn and vanilla-tasting herbal tea, is it?

The restaurant is called Yeon Chow, which I understand is a traditional Mexican name.

Just down the alley from Yeon Chow is a little restaurant with a round sign that depicts a cartoon cat head, out of which are sticking an apple stem and leaf. What is in the restaurant? I'm glad you asked. In the window, driftwood and cat condos, covered in a collection of cats (live, fluffy ones, that is). Further back? People having lunch with cats perched on the backs of their chairs. Considering that most Koreans apparently consider cats to be vermin, I thought that this was one of the most amazing and delightful scenes I've seen in this country.

Later, in my tenth quixotic attempt to find jeans that fit me, I went to the department store attached to the movie theater we frequent and actually found some that are close enough! I was about to give up and ask someone back in North America to just buy me some Wranglers and ship them; I've looked and looked, but hadn't found any that didn't have flowery stitching or "FUBU" or "Ask Enquired" writ large in swirly English letters across the ass, and that also were both big enough in the waist and short enough in the legs to fit. I finally did. (LEVI'S!) They fit fine, as long as I don't want to breathe and don't mind wearing platform shoes. I've already breathed many times during my life, so they'll do.

By the way, it's good to be able to ask (in Korean) "Men's jeans you have?" and be pointed to the correct floor. I even used the correct syntax.

I was waited on by a jolly middle-aged Korean woman; to try them on, I had to go behind the counter, which sits right out in the middle of the store, let her pull a curtain around me, and change really fast, as she wasn't all that patient before deciding I'd had enough time and she should open the curtain. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!) Then, after running my Visa, she motioned that I had to follow her up a floor on the escalator. Why? Credit card declined? Jeans warranty? Complimentary snapshot from behind the curtain? No; she picked up a scratch-off card and scratched it off for my magnificent surprise prize: a small tube of Vaseline hand lotion. Can't use it; I need some take-years-off-the-face lotion. Oil of Oy Vey, perhaps.

On this trip downtown, I also found a book I've been looking for ("Inkheart"; really liked the movie) and got Kyobo Books to order me a copy of the nationwide events magazine (in English) I've been looking for for months. And I see there's an exhibit in town: etchings and engravings by Picasso, Warhol, Matisse, and others I should know more about. Now I just have to figure out where the dang building is. Oh, and Luke gave me a half-dozen cans of tuna for the cats.

All in all, a pretty good Wednesday, though Hump Day has not thus far lived up to the promise that term implies...

Sorry. I'm so ashamed.


Cindy said...

I can't believe you passed up the flowery stitching...j/k. I love popcorn. I wonder if that's in my genes :)

Stephen J said...

...or jeans.