Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Day, Another Body?

I started off my morning with a somewhat productive meeting. This was a nice treat, given that I'm not quite used to meetings of the productive persuasion. The last job I had that wasn't teaching English gifted me with a meeting a week where the manager would admit that we were having a nonsense training session where we would learn how to do something that our centre would probably never actually have the tools to accomplish. It sure is nice to work somewhere that is not entirely full of shit.

I was in pretty high spirits when I entered the subway station, enough so that I even overlooked the unusual sound the train was making down below. As I got down to the subway platform, I saw that the sounds I had heard were from a train that had backed up and come to a complete halt around halfway down the platform. Odd, I thought. Odder still were the hoards of people moving down to the other end of the track. It took a minute or so for me to take a glance down at all the commotion and realize that there was something that probably used to be a person 20 meters or so down the track from me. I was far enough out that I didn't have clear sight of it, but from where I stood it appeared somewhat like a mangled rag doll.

Why is it that when terrible things lie in the distance, we have the urge to go and take a look? I didn't, in the end. Good choice, as now it's probable that I will sleep tonight. However, since I didn't go look, I'm not really sure if somebody died, if they threw themselves in front of the train, if they were trying to save somebody else,  if they got pushed, or if they just collapsed on to the tracks before the train got there. Judging by the way the train conductor was wiping the front of his train, and then later completely backed that train out of the station , removing it from immediate use, I'm going to say that whatever it was, it wasn't good.

The rest of my day was significantly better than this. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bra Shopping Experience - (Let's try this again)

When I lived in Korea, it took just one trip to the bra shop to determine that my shopping for undergarments there was not going to become a regular thing. I chose a nice enough looking store in Pusan National University area. I don't remember what it was called, but it had a pink sign, which ought to effectively distinguish it from exactly 5 stores in all of Busan.

I had reasonably low expectations upon entering the shop. I figured that it was unlikely I'd find anything in my size, but that it wouldn't hurt to look around. I hadn't counted on the shop owner, who was a middle aged man, following me around every step of the way. During the two minutes I was in the shop, he tried his darnedest to get me to buy some frilly pink things with precisely 18 bows affixed to the front (how does one even wear a shirt over bras like this?). This was all a bit too strange for me, so I said my thanks, left empty handed, and never returned.

For a number of reasons, I assumed that I would have more luck in Moscow. For one thing, without too much trouble, I can actually buy clothes that fit here. This is both good and terrible, because it means that I now have a closet full of fun clothes, but much less money than when I lived in a country where I was considered to be quite the fatty. I've also found that in Moscow, the shop people are far less likely to ride your ass and follow you around the shop; This is probably at least in part because half of them don't give a shit that you've entered the shop at all, and most of the other half are angry that you dared to interrupt their very important making-bitch-faces-at-the-wall business. As a result, I was completely unprepared for what awaited me at the local bra shop.

On the rare occasion that a shop assistant goes out of there way to actually do their job, I make an early point of advising them that I speak a little Russian, but terribly. Most of them will go out of their way to be nicer and help me at this point, presumably because I've actually made an effort to speak Russian, and just generally not acted like a dick. When I made this point clear to Bra Shop Lady, I figured that she'd just leave me alone. I was quite mistaken. Not only did she help to determine my size, but she spent the next ten minutes walking in and out of my fitting room (as I was in the middle of changing) with more bras that she thought I might like. At first I thought this was a bit invasive, but I quickly noticed that she was doing it to everybody else, too. Apparently barging in to the fitting room as your clients are in various states of undress is totally acceptable and not all weird here. Okay.

In the end, I spent a disgusting amount of money on bras, so invasive or not, Bra Shop Lady served her purpose well that day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Cross-Cultural Bra Shopping Experience

I wrote an entire post on this matter, then my computer decided it was hungry and ate the entire thing. For fuck's sake.

In short, while still a bit strange, bra shopping in Moscow was infinitely more successful than in Busan. I'll elaborate on that later, at a time when I want to punch my computer slightly less.