Friday, September 01, 2006

23 Big Seoul Sister pulls

Our end of Itaewon road could also be called Shitaewon. It is full of knock off hand bag shops, tailors popping out onto the pavement and asking if you want a cashmere coat (in 34 degrees, um, no thanks), fake sunglasses etc. Bit of a jumble sale.

So I am waiting to pick up child 1 from the bus the other day and am approached by a smiling guy, wearing US-style street wear: baggy jeans, super baggy T-shirt and baseball cap. Not wishing to be a grumpy cow, I smile back.

"I'm Jimmy," he says, "I be your friend." Really, I think.
"Where you from?" he asks
"England" I say, trying to sound polite but also slightly distant - I am not sure if I want a new friend.
"Oh England, I be your friend, how long you stay here?"

I sit down to wait for the bus and Jimmy sits down next to me, staring at me in a weird way.

"You stay here with your boyfriend?" he asks.
"No, with my husband," I answer thinking that will probably do the trick.
"Your husband black?" he asks.
"Um, no he's from Scotland. There aren't a huge number of blacks up there. Where are you from?" I ask.
"I'm from Ghana, you been to Africa?" he asks me.
"Not yet," I reply, "What do you do here?" I ask him.
"I'm a trafficker," he tells me.
Oh christ, I think. "Oh really, um, what do you, ah, traffic?" I ask.
"Oh, cars, trucks, other stuff."

We sit side by side until the bus arrives and my blonde daughter steps off in her cute gingham uniform. Starting to make our way home, I consider going to Starbucks rather than let Jimmy, the Ghanian trafficker of god know's what walk us to our door. "Smile at Jimmy," I tell my daughter. She has a good stare and smiles back and Jimmy saunters off.

So now I have a friend at the bus stop. Lucky me.

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