Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Doors

My girlfriend's mother was at our apartment talking to her until 00:45, but it didn't matter because I was wide-awake after feeling tired most of the evening. I watched the London stockmarket until it closed at 00:30, spending another fifteen minutes afterwards updating my accounts. I'd opened a position yesterday - my first in Korea - and another one this morning, and closed both this afternoon for £45 profit. I'm a long way from the twenty trades a day I'd typically do in the UK, but it felt good to make my first money in Asia, especially considering how much I've spent since arriving here. I'm not thrilled about the time difference though.

It was past 2am before I started to drift off to sleep but within five minutes the increasingly loud sound of heels echoed down our apartment building corridor. We haven't seen any of our neighbours yet but it seems our immediate one must be female. It's little wonder we haven't seen her though if she comes home at 02:15. After a few days here I instinctively knew what was coming next. Sure enough, the door was opened, then closed with an almighty crash that seemed to be designed to do its best to wake the whole building up. Five minutes later another neighbour returned home in the same fashion, and another a little later. Since the door to our apartment has no built-in slamming feature I can only assume that getting it to slam requires a particular effort. I'm beginning to think if slamming doors were an Olympic sport Korea could expect to walk away with some gold.

But that my story would end there. At 04:45 I was awoken by the sound of our immediate neighbour announcing her departure back out into the world with another almighty bang of her door. It seems she's getting even less sleep than me. Over the next thirty minutes, in my increasingly shell-shocked stupor I counted two or three other neighbours leave for work in the same way. This is going to get really old, really quickly.

As a Westerner I've read much about Asian culture and only yesterday in the bank one of the roving employees struck up my first English conversation with a stranger in which he haltingly asked me what I thought of Korean families compared to Western family relationships. I said that Korean families are much closer which of course I had to tell him is a good thing. There certainly is more social cohesion and apparent consideration for others in Asia as per the stereotype, so the whole slamming doors thing has served as something of a wake-up call as to the realities that may lie beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it is also serving as a more literal wake-up call as well, and I need some sleep.

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