Friday, April 13, 2012

Then and Now 34 - McDonald's Meet-up

Then and Now 34 - McDonald's Meet-up
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

For the first few months after I came to this country, I was sick almost every day. It was several things happening at once: I had to get used to the heat, the air, the rain... but more importantly, there were several strains of flu and cold viruses that I had never experienced back home. I must have gotten sick at least a dozen times in 2007, and probably half of those times were the first month and a half at my bud's aunt's place alone.

This day was no different. I woke up with a slight headache, a sore throat and a fever, and to make matters worse, I was covered in mosquito bites. I probably should have stayed home and taken a day off, but my bud and I both wanted to head out and look around, so we did just that. After we got dressed up and ready, we headed out of his aunt's furniture store and took a right towards the market, the one where I saw the fifth Harry Potter movie in Then and Now 24.

We browsed for a little bit, checking out the jackets, shirts and so on around the market area. It was mostly girl stuff, so we left pretty quickly. We then followed the market out until the road headed out into a busy street, which was low and wide between rows of buildings on either side, then we turned right and walked until we came to another market area. Since I wasn't feeling very well, my bud and I went to several stores that sold colored and patterned riding masks, so I wouldn't spread the flu to anyone else. It took a while, but I finally found one that was perfect for me: it was colored like the American flag and felt very comfortable, so I bought it and put it on. I thought it looked good, and I had been searching for a mask like it for a week or two, so I felt quite proud that I finally found one. My bud just acted cool and said, "Glad you like it."

We headed back to the place where the first market opened up onto the street between the buildings, and found a multi-storied McDonald's there. We were both hungry, so we headed in to get something to eat. I hadn't had a burger in a month or two, so I ordered a Big Mac meal along with my bud. We waited for a bit, and after the food came, we went upstairs to eat. I had to choose us a table a little away from the window, because all the window seats were taken. I still remember looking at the buildings outside, and seeing a huge billboard advertising some sneaker or another. Kobe Bryant's head was right next to the shoe, smiling a wide and happy smile.

My bud and I ate for a few minutes, until another foreigner walked in with a tray of food. Aside from the biker in Then and Now 10, this was the first foreigner I had ever seen here. He was in his late twenties or early thirties, taller, and was dressed casually for a nice day out. I asked my bud if we should invite him over to eat and say hello, but he just said, "If you want to." I smiled behind my mask and nodded ok. I looked over at the foreigner, and when he noticed me, I waved him over. He hesitated for a second, but then came over to say hello.

Lars was a nice guy. He came from a world away and hadn't been in the country for very long, and was interested in coming here because he had grown up around the locals back home, like I had. He seemed to be doing very well for himself: he had a job, a bike and a girlfriend. He didn't talk much about the first two, but he did relate an interesting story or two about his girl. Neither of them was very happy; both stories involved Lars and his girl riding around through town and being harrassed by the locals because of their relationship.

For the first story, he talked about a run-in with a taxi driver. He was kind of vague about the specifics, but it involved him and his girl on their bike, and the driver of the taxi, being in a near-miss accident. The taxi driver suddenly came out of the taxi, threatening Lars with a hammer, so he rode away as quickly as possible. The second was just a collection of experiences he had while riding around with his girl, getting catcalls and jeers from the locals for dating one of their own. For the record, I've never once had that problem since I've been here.

Other than this, Lars spoke mostly about traveling about the city we were in, a couple of places he had seen, and his plans of staying here for the forseeable future. I was glad he didn't allow a couple of bad eggs spoil his time here. My bud mostly listened as we talked, but he did chime in here and there to ask questions about the locals back in Lars' home country. It was quite special how mundane things were: immigrant locals in Lars' country went to work, went shopping, did everything everyone does in this world. I was even more convinced at that point of how similar we all are, no matter what country we come from.

After a while, Lars had to go, so my bud and I said goodbye. And soon after, when we had finished eating, we went out to take another walk around before heading home to relax.

As for today...

I woke up at 8:00.
I played video games.
My son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I played cars with him.
I took him to the arcade, then we went shopping, then we went home.
I went out with my wife and son to eat lunch, then we visited a temple, then we went home.
I watched TV.
I surfed the net.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I started a load of laundry.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

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