Thursday, November 30, 2006

37 Koreans in the Rain

The first time I saw Korean people in the rain, it was from the shelter of the bus stop while I was waiting for the school drop off. A tour group of Koreans were leaving a bus and having to make it about 3 metres across the pavement to the safety of McDonalds. They were running as if the sky was raining white hot iron filings on their heads, shrieking and grabbing at any form of plastic bag or umbrella device they could lay their hands on.

It turns out that they believe that the rain makes you sick, and so they are afraid of precipitation. And since it doesnt rain here much except during the summer monsoon, they are perhaps not as used to it as people who come from soggy countries like England!

On the way back from Taekwondo tonight there was a miniscule amount of wetness in the air - we wouldn't even describe it as spitting in the UK. But everyone was walking along under their umbrellas, terrified of getting sick. A lady helpfully told us to put our hoods up and hats on or we could get rained on (gasp in horror).

Surely if rain really made you ill, approximately 60% of the UK population would be permanently off sick?

36 First snow

The temperature has been plummeting here, and I have been buying tights, furry boots and jackets like there is no tomorrow. After 8+ years of living in hot places we have zero cold weather kit. The first day that it froze, our eldest daughter didnt even have a coat to wear to school so we got her to do star jumps on the pavement while waiting for the school bus. An emergency trip to Doota clothing store in Dongdaemun market ended in the purchase of a very nice pink duffel coat for her.

When husband was sent to Shanghai on a business trip, he was also drafted into action with a shopping list of items that he dutifully found. Coats for the girls, a very nice Marc Jacobs handbag for me (lucky old me) - you must always have the essentials!

And this morning the garden table is dusted with snow. Breakfast was a debate about whether it was snow or frost. An official inspection revealed that it is indeed snow, but only a tiny bit.

Youngest daughter was determined to skate down the slide because of the "huge" quantity of ice on the slide. I cannot wait for a big snow fall.

More snow later in the morning caused great excitement in my Korean class, but the rest of the day was damp, wet, cold and dark - reminiscent of a raw winter day in the UK. Still, with most days here being bright blue icy cold skies, the odd wet one is no problem.

35 Life Changes

So all of a sudden our lives have changed with the news that both our fathers have got forms of cancer. Just as we were bidding goodbyre to our friends who came to stay, husband received a call from his dad to tell him that he has been foudnt o have a 9cm tumour in his oesophagus. A very scary thing to discover, and it was a real jolt to get the news. So we thought about it over the weekend and decided that we ought to go home for Christmas and lend some support, see him and everyone.

And walking to the Emirates office to book our tickets the sun was shining and I was looking around at everyone going about their business in the crisp clear air. And pondering that here I was knowing that my dear father in law is so ill, and there he is in Scotland living and knowing that he has this horrible thing inside him, while the rets of the world continues to spin and go and be busy. And a horrible thought crossed my mind... that previous times when we have had awful news out of the blue, there has always been a follow up hit. Just when you think that that things couldn't get worse, they do.

So I booked the plane tickets, went home and sat at the computer to check my emails. Suddenly my skype rang and it was my dad. Most irregular, he rarely calls if my mum is not around, and certainly not on a weekday morning. "I have something to tell you," he said. "I have also been diagnosed with cancer, but mine is at the other end'". Shit, rectal cancer, that is possibly even worse than oesophagus, I thought. Actually, he has cancer of the prostate, the reference to the "other end" was just his way of breaking the news in a slightly confusing way.

So we seize the day, don't waste a minute, and treasure our loved ones. Even if they can be frustrating at times, we will surely miss them when they are gone, and you never know when that is going to happen.