Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where's the mute button when you need it?

So my mother and brother tell me that I talk pretty loud - especially when I'm on the phone. But I've not "lived" at home for quite some time now, and I wonder if I've changed a bit. (I'll let them be the judge when I go home this w'end!)

Koreans are generally quiet on the subway and bus. However, sometimes there are some really rowdy people - either students or old drunk men. But people pretty much keep to themselves. I do too. When my train arrives, I get on and almost never sit down - I prefer standing (unless I'm very tired/my feet are sore/ there are enough available seats). Although I get stared at ... and sometimes get creepy looks from obviously perverted men, I just keep my MP3 player pumping with music waiting for my station.

The other day, I was with a friend (Kim) on the subway. It was Sunday, and when we got onto the train, I had just started telling her a story. I was telling her about the girl I saw last week - whose mother made her stand outside naked in the morning. Kim was expressing her feelings about this, and got visibly upset.

The louder she spoke, the softer I spoke! I was hoping she'd get the hint and not talk as loud as she was. People were starting to stare. I think they thought we were arguing because of the way Kim was speaking - and her volume was rising. My brown cheeks turned hot and I couldn't wait for our stop. Meanwhile, as Kim was going on for herself, I just nodded and smiled now and then, trying to show people that we weren't actually fighting!

We had to transfer trains. When we did, I was hoping we'd be able to find seats so I could catch a few mins of shut eye (I'd been up since 4am for my brother's DJ competition). There was one available seat and I let Kim sit. I stood in front of her.

Ohmygod! She was talking *so* loud and shrieking with laughter - about some things that weren't even funny. By the way, she is Korean. I have found that when I'm with Korean friends, we sometime attract attention from others. I asked about this. Apparently others are probably thinking - Wow! He/She is with a foreigner... they must stpeak English pretty well. I'm told it's a status thing.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief when we reached our destination.

Coming back home, I thought Kim would be tired and would talk less. Wrong. This time the stories had actions and people were really beginning to stare.

Now I'm a LEO and we're supposed to bask in the spotlight, not so? I can handle having attention, but not attracting it by overacting. Get it?

I needed to go to Yong-san - to the HUGE electronic/digital store. I had to get something for my brother and Kim said she'd go with me. After I told her what I needed to get, she said not to worry & that she'd help me. "I'm Korean...!" meaning, she'd help me find what I need in no time, because if you don't know Yong-san, it's like being lost in the Amazon Jungle.

Not true!

The first person I spoke to had trouble understanding me and what I needed. I turned to Kim with a look saying, "Please help me out here and translate." LOL - She repeated exactly what I had just said ... in English!

I didn't think that much of it, 'til she did it again! And then I realized that this happens very often when I go out with Kim. When we're out clubbing, she magnets to foreign guys and doesn't want to talk to Korean guys. And she pretends that she doesn't speak Korean. Even though when she speaks English - it's NOT convincing that she's a native speaker. But I suppose to an inebriated person, all this doesn't matter.

Later at dinner, Kim briefly mentioned why she doesn't speak Korean when she's out. But that's a story for another blog post.


Nicki said...

I think a lot of Asians speak loud unconsiously, especially Viets! Sometimes they sound like they are fighting.

Sheetal said...

@ Nicki ~ Uh huh... definitely sounds like they're having a heated argument! :)