Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Buying Baking Powder

Today proved to be one the most fun days I’ve had since I’ve been here. And it all started with a shopping list…

I had the day off school (the kids had medical check-ups), so I slept in. When I woke up, Jess had already left. I got out of bed and walked towards the bathroom and along the way, I noticed a small piece of paper with some writing on it, laying on the dining room table. I stumbled over to it, and found a list of groceries with an “I love you” at the bottom. Jess will argue that it was, “just there in case I had nothing to do and wanted to go out shopping” but we all know what that means. So I took my shower, got my shoes on, and took off to the store.

As I walked to the store, I looked down at the list to see how hard of a task I had been put up against. I didn’t know any of the words in Korean, so I immediately booted up the “charades” program in my head and got ready to have some fun.

I entered the store with a cheery “An nyoung hasaeyo!” and began my hunt.

The sugar, flour, and eggs were dead simple to find on my own, but I hit my first snag with the butter. They didn’t have sticks and I couldn’t tell the difference between the cream cheese, dip, and butter containers. So I grabbed one of each and walked up to the counter and asked, “butter isoyo?” (where is the butter?). She smiled and pointed at one of the containers. I found out later that “butter” is “buttah” in Korean, so she had no problem understanding what I was looking for.

I thanked her and brought the other containers back to the shelves.

The next item on my list was baking powder. I walked to the section where I thought it would be and found dozens of small packages containing white powder with similar labels. Let the charades begin…

I returned to the counter to find several small kids buying popsicles. One spotted me, and immediately ran outside and yelled something about a “waegook” (foreigner) to her other friends. Within seconds, a small audience had formed. The shopkeeper smiled at me as I began my show:

I mimed out a rectangle on the counter and said “bbang” (which I knew to be “bread” in Korean). I pretended to mix in the sugar, flour, eggs and buttah as she nodded her head in understanding. The kids just stared and giggled. The next step was tricky. I pretended to add a “mystery” ingredient, mimed the bread expanding, looked at my “mystery ingredient” (my empty hand) and said, “isoyo?” (do you have it?). She laughed, looked at me, and said, “baking powdah?” I burst out laughing and said, “neh, neh, neh, baking powdah!” (yes, yes, yes, baking powder!). She opened the cash register, pulled out some money, handed it to one of the little girls and told her something in Korean. The little girl took the money and sprinted out of the store. Literally 20 seconds later, she ran back in the store huffing and puffing with the baking powder in one hand, and the change in the other. As she handed me the bag, I looked at her and said, “camsa hamnida!” (thank you!). This immediately made all of the kids laugh, and they disappeared out of the store as quickly as they had first appeared.

Mission accomplished.

- Ken

1 comment:

  1. That is just so sweet! You have an amazing imagination. I still can't believe how they go so much out of their way to help the "waegoo." I keep picturing you as an eewok from Star Wars...