Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Close Shave

"If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization." - Ludwig von Mises

Death has a name, and it is Tuesday Morning. My shoulder resembled the United Colors of Benetton from the heavy bag I'd carried on my journey, I either had a temperature or Korea did, and despite being conscious here for only a brief few hours, I'd already notched up two confirmed mosquito kills. I was particularly proud of my latter one, which despite being out of practice and defenceless, I'd managed to stun using nothing more than the Microsoft optical mouse I happened to be holding at the time. I felt like an IT ninja and would have done the whole Bruce Lee stance routine afterwards if my body hadn't been stiffer than a Republican politician. Later in the day though I'd watch incredulously as a Korean friend at a restaurant caught one with her hand while she ate, making me realise that I had a long way to go before I reached my first dan in insect control.

Exhausted and unused to the two speed approach to Korean driving – fast and dead stop – I'd fallen over in the bus from the airport twice the day before, dropping my hand luggage in the process and apparently, I discovered, smashing the corner of my Dell portable in the process. The desktop I'd left behind in Korea was apparently registering its abandonment by rebooting itself every few seconds so it looked like it was going to be a long IT day. If only every problem could be fixed by a swift flick of a Microsoft mouse.

I spent an hour of my first morning in Busan searching for the Korean-bought shaver I'd left behind when I returned to England. It was the best I'd ever used and had cost me about half the price of the ridiculously expensive British-bought Philips rotary that came with me, which I'd always hated with a passion. The British shaver had unsurprisingly failed to fit into a Korean power socket, which is what prompted me to buy another when I first arrived. For much the same reason, I hadn't taken it back to England with me because even though I loved it I knew it probably wouldn't work in a British socket. Now I had turned the cupboard we had left some possessions in upside down, while feeling awful, and I had drawn a blank. Where on Earth was it?

The answer transpired to probably be Namhae, because that's where it had travelled with Korean Father, not that Korean Father, who happened to be at the apartment in Busan when I returned, had cared to share this information with me. There is, I'm unsurprised to report, something of a cultural lesson in this, which is that Korean parents are sometimes rather fuzzy on where the dividing line is drawn between themselves and their children, and perhaps more specifically, things which might be stored in cupboards but which belong to their children. So my ex-marine Korean Father had seen the hill, and taken it, so to speak. Did I want it back? I'm not sure I did after he'd used it for a year. It was a small incident although I didn't appreciate the time I'd wasted turning parts of the apartment upside down unnecessarily. The bigger issue was that it did nothing to endear me to the idea of living with Korean Mother if I felt I had to be taking weekly inventories of my possessions, and given that I'd left the UK partly because of my property and privacy not being respected, it's an issue I'm sensitive to right now.

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