Monday, April 23, 2012

Then and Now 35 - After Leena

Then and Now 35 - After Leena
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

This story starts where Then and Now 17 ended.

I hung up the phone, and felt lighter than ever. I was finally letting go of the attachment I had to Leena, because I knew that no matter how hard I tried, she was only ever going to see me as the little brother that she helped into manhood. Because I didn't have to think about her or her responses regarding a relationship between us, I was free to continue my explorations of this country without worry or doubt holding me back anymore. The conversation done and my path set, I left the balcony and went back into the dorm room.

There were assigned sleeping arrangements that occupants of the hostel had to follow, but there weren't more than two or three guys at any time staying in the men's room, where about a dozen bunk beds were available to use. I bed hopped a few times, but I preferred to sleep next to the lockers where I kept my passport and wallet safely locked up. I took out my camera, an old Pentax my mom gave to me before I came here, and hummed in disappointment when I remembered that I still had no way to get the pictures off of it. My mom had lost the USB cable, and without it, I couldn't upload a picture of myself to the internet for my profile for meeting friends.

I went to the front desk where the hostel boss was working and I asked her in the local language if there was a computer store nearby where I could find something to get my pictures out, and she told me of an entire street dedicated to the technological. She pointed it out on my city map and repeated the name several times so I wouldn't forget, then I thanked her and double checked my map. It wasn't too far away from the hostel, maybe a mile or two, so I was relishing the walk. I took a quick walk back to the dorm room, spiked my hair, then was on my way to the elevator.

I still remember a little picture advertisement posted just outside of the elevator from a local tour guide. He wrote the ad in English, and it had pictures of several people and himself climbing mountains, walking by the ocean, and traveling through a few outdoor markets. Everyone looked very happy in the pictures, as happy as my reflection in the metal of the elevator did. I soon got to the ground floor and circled around a little hallway and past a second elevator that led to some offices a few floors up, I was out on the street.

Studying my map, I picked a direct route to get to the tech street and kept my eyes peeled for anything interesting as I made my way there, and it wasn't long before I found something: most of the buildings that I was walking between towered high and were crammed really close together, being separated only by wide streets every city block. But across the street from where I was walking, I noticed that two of the buildings were standing about fifty feet apart from one another, and what was between them wasn't a road. I backtracked to the crosswalk and crossed the street to get a closer look. It was a wide alleyway, and it ended in a "T" ahead of me. But it wasn't an alley filled with dumpsters and trash cans; it had a little swingset and a small garden of grass and flowers to the right, and at the middle of the T ahead was an open door leading into the building before me. It might have been a bar or a movie theater, I'm not sure. It was very well-maintained, and quite beautiful.

I went back onto the street and kept walking until the buildings to my left suddenly stopped at a four way intersection, and a great field of grass in a giant park waited across the street. At that point, I was pretty sure I had gotten lost and had bypassed the tech street, probably because I crossed over to see the alley. So, I went over to the huge park, and caught up with a local walking alongside the grass. When I asked him where the tech street was, he told me that I hadn't gotten there yet; I still had a few blocks to go. I thanked him, and he asked me where I was from, what I was doing here, all that good stuff. I told him about growing up with the locals of this country in America, how a lot of my friends were from here, and how I was happy to be in such a beautiful place with such nice people. He beamed with pride, then offered me his business card in case I ever had any questions or troubles he could help with. I thanked him, gave him my phone number, then waved goodbye and headed back to the street.

I was at the tech street in no time, and it was a nerd's paradise. Store after store of motherboards, cameras, computer chips, soldering irons and other assorted doodads were lined up, one after the other, in a huge line along the street. The first store I went to was a tiny place. It had gadgets hanging from every wall, and in the glass counter that the boss was standing over were several cameras and accessories. I asked him in the local language if he had something "To take my pictures off my camera and put it on a computer by USB."

He knew immediately what I was talking about, and pulled an all-in-one card reader off of the wall. It read SD, mini-SD, PSP memory cards, you name it, it knew it. The price was only $3, too. I feel guilty mentioning this now, but I told him that I would look around to see if I could find any other brands. He turned away and told me that I wouldn't find any better before going back to work. And I don't really know what I was trying to do. Look for a better one for $2?

But I did just that. I went a few stores down until I found a set of stairs that led underground, where even more tech stores were selling their wares. Most of them were selling computer parts or video games, though, so I realized that I really should just have gotten the reader from the boss upstairs. I went back and sheepishly bought it, thanked the boss for his time, then moved on. By that point, the sun had been blasting down on me for the past several hours as I walked around outside and through the tech street, so I decided to head back to the hostel in that sweltering afternoon, and give the USB reader a whirl.

The computer in the computer room of the hostel was hilarious. It was a bit slow, but the funny thing was that you had to deposit money in a slot to make the internet work for a few minutes. I have no idea how they made it work like that. But before I dropped some coins in, I took the card out of my camera, put it in the reader, and attached it to the computer. The pictures came up immediately; I was ecstatic.

I spent the next couple of minutes taking pictures of myself, and finally got a good one that looked pretty handsome. It wasn't as handsome as the one I took when I moved to my apartment, but since I made about a hundred friends from that profile while I was still at the hostel, I suppose the picture did its job. I put the picture on the desktop, resized it, dropped some money in the computer, went on the internet to set up my profile, and the very next day, had three or four girls emailing me to hang out with them. At that time, I couldn't have been happier.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I hung up wet laundry.
My wife, son and I went to two clinics and a hospital for three separate medical issues I have right now, then we went home.
I took my son to the arcade, then we went to the mall, then we went home.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I watched internet movies with my son.
He fell asleep.
I surfed the net.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I slept.

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