Saturday, July 6, 2013

Then and Now 70 - Odds and Ends 12

Then and Now 70 - Odds and Ends 12
Time: Before I got married.

For the sake of this Then and Now, I'm going to refer to my wife as my girlfriend.

Nell and I met up at the underground mall one day to look around, and got a really excellent lunch at one of the restaurants down there. We went in to get some delicious spiced meat soup, and brought in a bowl of ice cream that we bought and shared together. The lunch was so nice that we met up again a few days later to have dinner together at a little local restaurant outside of the main station. We ordered some breaded meat and started to talk about our college lives when the owner came up to get our completed order slip.

"Give me the pen," she demanded in localspeak.

I raised my eyebrows slightly and silently handed it to her, then we she left, I looked at Nell.

"Wow, that was rude," she said. Then we both busted up laughing.


I was wandering the main city one day, somewhere near the temple from Then and Now 18, I think. I got myself lost and was walking around the city to see if I could find anything interesting. Most of what I saw was a wide and empty road that went past a thick tree line on one side, and a humble field on the other.

It started to drizzle slightly as I walked down the street, and once I had been just a few hundred feet up the road, I started to see the outline of a huge, walled off building in front of me. Drawing closer to it, I found that it was just some boring factory or something, with a small security building and a lazy guard inside of it sitting just outside of the compound.

At that time, though, I guess the light rain was relaxing me so much that I saw the factory as some kind of hidden fortress in the woods, and that I had just wandered into another great adventure. It was stupid, I know, but it was enough for a flash of euphoria to hit and wash through me for the next few seconds, forever burning the image of the "rain castle" in my mind.


I was out with Tina visiting a huge park area one dark night. It was a kind of dedication place to a local hero, and there were several huge arches welcoming visitors to wide fields of grass with a few cobbled streets leading between them, all the way to a massive set of stairs that led to a building that housed the hero's statue. Tina and I didn't go in that night, but I went there later during my 2012 vacation to see it more clearly.

That night, I took some pictures with her, then we headed down some quiet, dark streets towards the main station. The trees hung tall over us, the roads were emptying out, and it felt like we were all alone in the city. On the way, she taught me how to say "hate" in a cute way, but it was kind of useless because only girls really used it. Still, I figured I could recognize it when I heard it, so I nicked it and tucked it away into my memory.

After a long and peaceful walk, we were back at the main station, and Tina called a friend to find me the perfect bus that would take me directly back home. I was surprised, because I normally had to take two or three forms of transportation to get back. The ride was smooth, calm and easy, a perfect end to a gentle, easy night out with a good friend.


Back at my bud's aunt's place, the both of us found it extremely easy to get lost. There were a lot of tall buildings around, especially where his aunt lived, so we often got lost wandering in the little lanes and alleys that went between them. As time went on we got better and better at navigating our town, but until we got the lay of the land, we had a clever way to find our way back to our place.

There was a building there, much larger than any of the others and somewhat near the ocean, that would sometimes tower far above the other ones at the right angle. We used that thing as a compass many times to get to and from the shopping mall where I practiced my local language skill, and my bud went window shopping. I still remember that beacon of safety rising in the distance to offer us a way back home.

We went into a mall next to it one day, and I went in to one of the stores to buy something. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember getting up to the cashier and trying to use my neophyte skill at the local language to ask how much the item was. I ended up saying something incorrect like "How many money?"

Unfortunately, either this guy was shocked to see a foreigner speaking his language, or was just a little slow, because he just didn't get it, even after I repeated myself and gestured to the item twice. My bud finally stepped up and said the correct phrase and the guy nodded in understanding to tell me the price, and I learned a new phrase for my own use. I still don't know what that cashier was thinking.


After I started dating my girlfriend, I was still meeting people through the week, some of them girls. This day was no different. One weekend, I met up with a local college girl to see a famous outdoor market with a huge seafood marketplace in the middle of it. We met up in the train station and she was easy to spot, because she was the only local with her eyes glued directly on me.

She was an intimidating girl who hardly let me speak and didn't seem interested in anything I had to say, making me wonder why she even bothered to ask me to hang out, but at least I got to have a little tour of the market I wanted to see. The fish bazaar had a huge, high roof and was packed to the gills with people eating nasty fish in every direction at tables strewn about the place. I was interested to see the swimming sea creatures in their water tanks before they were prepared to be eaten, but I had more fun outside walking through narrow alleys past dozens of non-seafood shops.

We parted soon after, and a few days later, I got a strange email from my girlfriend. She told me that some girl I didn't know had seen me out with the college girl, and recognized me from my internet profile. My profile at that point said that I was dating my girl, and I provided a link to her profile there, so this unknown girl used that link to email my girlfriend to warn her that I was cheating on her. She added to "be careful" because her last boyfriend was a foreigner, and he had two timed her.

I explained the situation to my girlfriend, and she understood then (and later started a fight about it, but I've already talked about how I had the power in our relationship to shut her down then), but I felt more disappointed, and frankly not surprised, by the behavior of the other foreigners here. They always found new and pathetic ways to shame themselves, and I felt proud to break the mold that they had so selfishly set for any other visitor to this country.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I went to another school by train, and played video games on the way.
I taught students.
I came home by train, and played video games on the way.
I ate dinner.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I slept.

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