crazy, stupid, love

My infatuation with all things Korean is well-known to the Internetz. It started with their TV dramas, but slowly grew to encompass almost every K thing. So for the past two years, I have been trying to coax, cheat, and compel friends and husband to take a trip with me to Seoul. But something or the other (like work, family visits, trips to Tokyo or Paris) kept cropping up. In the end, I started hatching plans to visit on my own but then the baby came.

So you can imagine my immense delight when I saw that my flight to San Francisco had a layover in Incheon. I had let Korea build up so much in my head that a fleeting visit to its airport also seemed to excite me to no end. By the time, I boarded the flight, I was way more excited about the layover than the actual destination.

I remember holding my breath as I stepped out of the plane and onto the glass-windowed aerobridge. I tried to grasp as much as possible, though all there was to see were some faraway green hills and a lot of usual aerodrome activity. Nevertheless, refusing to let my spirits fall, I quipped, “I cannot believe I am in Korea.” To which my darling husband said, “You are not in Korea until you clear immigration. You are on the international grounds.” Damp squib.

Just then the airline staff ushered us to the transit area making it clear that we won’t have time for anything but going through customs before reaching the boarding area for the onward flight. With fallen spirits and a face reflecting so, I walked along the path indicated and just then, I spotted a duty-free shop. Obviously, the shop was not on my designated path, but if I slipped away for a couple of minutes, who’d notice? Probably my 4-month old baby! OK, so I shall take him with me. Damnit, I will even use him to get away.

And so I created a small distraction by digging into his bursting diaper bag, letting a few things fall and making the nice unsuspecting airline staff believe that I was having a new-mommy moment.

That is how I got to go to the huge duty free store which was only slightly out of the way. The store stocked the usuals – chocolates, candies, souvenirs and such. But now that I was in the store and had pretty Korean salesgirls looking at me with expecting smiles on their faces, I had absolutely no clue why I wanted to be here in the first place. Well, not like I visited any part of Korea to take back a souvenir and when I last checked Toblerone was not Korean. Flustered, I looked around and then at my watch.

“Grab the first thing!” the voice in my head said. So I reached out at the tiny Korean couple dolls (maybe they were salt shakers) when my husband whispered, “These are so tacky, one could almost call them ugly.” At the same time, I saw the price tag, $45. Forty Five Friggin’ US Dollars!

Embarrassed and slightly miffed, I looked around for something with slight value for money and zeroed on a nice tea cup, which was traditionally Korean but not of a specific touristy significance and grabbed it. “I want this,” I told my husband, who still looked doubtfully at the $40 price tag.

“You want a $40 cup?” he asked twisting his one eyebrow the way only he can do. “You have cups. A lot of them, in fact.”

“But I do not have a Korean cup that I bought from Korea.”

“You are not in Korea.”

“But I want this. It is beautiful. And I am so in Korea. Everyone around us speaks Korean.”

“And probably enough English to understand your little tantrum.” With that he came out the bigger person, and payed for the cup and we rushed back to the customs queue.

So this is how my first Korean visit turned out. For I was in Korea, and you dare not try to convince me otherwise.


One Response to “crazy, stupid, love”

  1. Norwegian Wood Girl Says:


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