Wednesday, 27 July 2011

it never rains but it pours

During the insane downpour that decided to take place this morning and cause unheard-of floods in Seoul, I learned a few things which it will be good for me to remember for the rest of my life.

1. My mum is always right. Always. No matter how wrong I think she is, she is somehow right.
2. You really should be careful what you wish for.
3. Even I have my limits.

This morning as I was about to leave for work (I intern at Arirang, an English broadcasting system in Korea), I told my mum I was going to wear my heels today, unaware of the intensity of the rain that was to come. She told me not to be stupid and to wear my rainboots. I argued that I would be inside for most of the day, so what did it matter? Apparently the only thing that matters is that even though I'm legally an adult and a fully-fledged college student who has survived a year of living independently in another country, I still have to listen to her when she tells me what to wear.

But when I stepped outside the subway station a wave of gratitude for my mum's sternness swept over me almost as powerfully as did the rain from the heavens, which seem to have a rather large leak today. As I waited in line for the bus that normally takes me right in front of the Arirang building, the rain only came down even more heavily and I watched all the women wearing high heels and flip flops with a mixture of pity and superiority. Until I remembered that I would have been one of them had it not been for my mum. The smugness disappeared from my face instantly, and I think I finally realized no matter how convinced I am that she is wrong, my mum will always be right. And there's nothing I can do but take her advice, or else take a shower in my clothes. On a side note, only in Korea would there be so many women wearing heels on such a day...

When the bus finally came, the driver told us (after we had all boarded and got out of the rain, of course) that we would probably be better off walking because of all the traffic. So I began walking to work. And when I got to the main road, it became less of a walk and much more of a wade. It really was ridiculous. The cars on the main road were all stuck in ever-increasing mud-water, which was building up from the rains washing down dirt from the nearby mountain. People were huddled under what shelter from buildings they could find, while the more persistent ones were braving the mud in their bare feet, shoes in hand, and the smart ones (or the ones with smart mums) were wading through in their boots. I was reminded of a conversation I had with Sam and Hannah a while ago about experiences being in (small) earthquakes or typhoons. They had interesting stories or memories from when they experienced a little earthquake and their older sister ran into their room and yelled at them for jumping on the bed, or other such anecdotes. I remember thinking, man, I wish I had some sort of experience like that. And today I found myself in a mini-natural-disaster, of sorts. (I'm pretty sure floods count.) But pulling one foot at a time out of inches-deep mud really isn't that fun or interesting. Just a pain in the butt. I began to wonder why I had ever wanted to experience something like this before. Then I passed by an Audi building and saw employees with their pant legs rolled up, literally sweeping water out of the building back into the street, and, as I quickly took a picture of the scene, I was ever so slightly reminded why. But still.

I kept wading, and eventually I reached some point in the road where the water was even deeper - almost knee high. I took a tentative step forward and found the water dangerously close to the top of my boots, and that's when I decided it would be impossible to get to work today short of arriving with my entire lower half drenched in disgusting brown water. So I turned around and decided to head back to the station and find a cafe and either skip work or just go in late. Upon reflecting on my sudden decision I felt pleased to discover I do have some sort of limit after all, rather than ashamed of myself for being deterred by a mini-flood. I wonder if there is something significantly wrong with me?

But anyway, this is how I ended up at Starbucks at 10 in the morning, instead of at work at 9. I bought a piece of lemon cheesecake and skyped with James and finally began a blog. I hope I can keep this up at faithfully, even though I still have no idea what I will write about here. At the very least let's hope that it doesn't take a natural disaster every week for me to be moved to update it.

Edit: In response to a friend's question: yes, I took all of these pictures. On my way to work. I was very lucky that I had my camera with me that morning...