The Geneva Connections
Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
191Trip End Aug 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
1) where are you from?
2) what part of town do you live?
3) what do you do? (if work function: what area do you work in?)
4) how long have you/are you planning to live in London?
The last question would depend on where you were, but was invariant within that context:
5a) at a party: so how do you know <insert name of host>?
5b) at a concert: they're good, but have you heard <insert name of similar but more obscure band>?
5c) at work function: have you ever worked with/on <insert name of highest profile manager or project you can credibly attach yourself to>?
5d) at a club: WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!? <pause, cock head as though listening> OH, COOL
The scary thing about traveling is that you meet enough people who've lived in London (only a fraction of whom are Brits) that you can carry on the exact same conversation, but even and in general you end up hearing a similar roster of questions again and again, the undisputed champion being where are you from?
Alas, I've never found a satisfactory way to answer it. I learned quickly enough the inadequacy of saying simply Korean or American, the former prompting compliments on my language skills, the latter looks of consternation on how to ask politely what my ethnicity is (I prefer the latter, making them sweat). Saying Korean-American went a long way to resolve things, but most people like to know where within the states I'm from. Granted it's a straightforward verbal exchange to dig from there down to California or LA, but it's still a bother. Korean-Californian might work, but it's pretty cumbersome, and even then they often want to know whether I'm from the north or the south, and Korean-Los Angelino really fails the rolling-off-the-tongue test.
But it got downright surreal in Japan when locals ask this expecting me to be the native speaker, and Sundeep had to step in and take charge of the situation in Japanese
That was (a long-winded version of) my Lost in Translation moment, one of which every dinner guest at Chiemi's pre-wedding dinner was asked to share when introducing themselves to the rest of the table, along with how we knew Chiemi and/or Ross.
Again, that came about through Sundeep - who was also in attendance at said dinner. Basically, Chiemi and Sundeep had known each other (over email) from working back in GS Tokyo, and we all started hanging out together one summer when she was on an extended business trip in London.
This was the second time I'd met up with Chiemi this trip, the first being in Geneva, where she provided me with my first of oh-so-many couches since leaving London. I kinda skimped on that post, being still rather down at the time - that was in the immediate wake of my motorcycle breakdown, and the much-anticipated glacier ice-climbing trip that she'd booked for us had been cancelled due to bad weather - but I'm grateful for her help at the time to lift my funk (I'm sure she gets really tired of explaining what the WEF does).
I don't recall when was the first time Sundeep and I met Ross, but I do recall the last time
At the formal dinner that evening after the bumps, Ross and Chiemi were all decked out in their best finery while I tried to not look too ghetto in the suit I'd crammed into the back of my bike (unable to resist the call of a weekend ride in spite of such technicalities as wrinkles and odor).
Sitting on the tatami floor of the Izakaya restaurant, surrounded by Ross and Chiemi's family and friends who'd all flown into Tokyo for this most special of occasion, I was glad my schedule conflicts had ruled in favor of attending the informal, pre-wedding dinner rather than the post-wedding reception event, where my backpacker garb would have looked even more conspicuously out of place among the suit-and-tie set.
Aug: 500 hits
Sept: 900 hits
Oct: 1000 hits
Nov: 600 hits
Dec: 877 hits
Jan: 776 hits
Feb: 659 hits
Mar: 702 hits
total: 6014 hits