Sunday, November 30, 2008

Say cheese!

I was sitting in Seoul in some random train station restaurant.
I was sitting, minding my own business, ipod on, and mind definatly somewhere else.

A man approached. He was a youngish sort wearing a face mask* that hid his mouth and nose.
He mumbled something in broken English, pulled out a phone, and showed me a picture of myself. "Remember me?" he asked.

He had been a student during military week at some point last year and still had pictures of all his "favorite" teachers on his phone.
It was an odd moment. Teaching and living on a campus such as mine I often wonder what happens to all the pictures that are taken. I live in an amusement park, and the teachers provide the amusement.
Everyday pictures are taken. Sometimes they are group shots with a handful of students and a teacher or two. Sometimes they are individual poses. Sometimes action shots during class. Sometimes they are taken by surprise by the day visitors who see us eating and want proof.

It's an odd thing.

So pictures are taken every day. Pictures of the people I work with. Pictures of me. what happens to all these photographs? Where do they go when they leave the village? Are they downloaded onto a hard drive and forgotten? Are they added to a screen saver slide show for a few weeks and then replaced with bigger and better things? Are they posted on Facebook or Cyworld (the Korean version of Facebook)?

Are they printed out and hung on a living room wall? Possibly sitting peacefully on a mantel.

Are pictures of me all over this bloody country?

After the initial shock of being recognized we talked for a moment. He showed me the other pictures he had taken at the Village. Then his food arrived at a nearby table and he scurried back. The next few minutes were fairly awkward as his was pointing at me and speaking speedy Korean. He was, it seemed, telling the group at his table about me and the village.

I tried to eat without getting food all over my face or dripping on my shirt.

* The mask I am referring to is one of the medical-ish masks that many in Asia wear when they have a cold or sometimes out shopping or traveling around large groups of people. Since it is nearly cold and flu season they have been popping up everywhere.**

**Which, by the way, is why I thought it ludicrous when the Chinese was all up in arms about the American team arriving at the Olympics wearing the black face masks. Every body wears them. Hell, they sell kid sized ones with teddy bear mouths on them.

Maybe you'll see yourself on a billboard around there before you leave.
You obviously read a lot. I enjoy your comments. Strangly, I have not come across one of my favorite books in your list: "A Dream Within A Dream"

Perhaps you will read it and share your reaction to it?

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