Monday, November 1, 2010

Indian Summer BBQ in an Abandoned Park

One of the local expats decided that it would be a great idea to have a barbecue to celebrate the gorgeous end of summer/fall (...yes this is from mid October but I was lazy then!). Theoretically, this was a fabulous idea. He knew of a beautiful park that was seldom used. Everyone was gung-ho and planned out what to bring.  At 2pm on the appointed day I called around to get more specific directions.  No one knew where it was.  There was no helpfully drawn map ala Microsoft Paint on the Facebook event page. It wasn't remotely near any major landmarks or labeled streets. There wasn't a name we could give a taxi driver. Finally, I got a hold of a slightly agitated Brit (agitated from all of the very lost people calling him I imagine) who was not the host but appeared to be the only one to have found the park successfully.

Unfortunately for me I was traveling alone (since it started at 2 and I was running late) and thus had no one to foist the direction getting task on. Doubly so that I am terrible with directions...especially when given by someone speaking with a strong accent, rapid fire, and with distances given in meters. Nevertheless, by 3pm I made it to the park, only 10 minutes behind the rest of the hoard.

The park was absolutely magnificent. The entire area is being developed but none of the high rises are done yet. All of the infrastructure was completed in advance--right down to the neighborhood parks.  I will admit that it is very eerie to walk down empty 6 lane roads, pedestrian bridges linking nothing in particular, and sidewalks with benches almost hidden beneath weeds.
Yes, Crazy West Coast Boy (I think I may have referred to him in an earlier post as Bike Boy) brought a BB gun with him. Luckily, the only things harmed were a single soda can that he managed to find for people to use as target practice. I shot a gun for the first time in my life. It was a very strange feeling. For the safety of everyone involved, I aimed in the general direction of emptiness. I mainly took pictures of where the people were gathering, on the pavilion and the big game playing area but there was also a giant playground complex and some grassier paths. Most notably was the working bathroom (albeit without toilet paper or soap but I came prepared for all contingencies).
Yes, we cooked food for about 20 people on two tiny little grills with two tiny little skillets. Good thing people brought side dishes. I made several very well appreciated contributions:
    ~Orange juice not mixed with alcohol for those of us on antibiotics/not wishing to drink.
    ~50 cups
    ~a gigantic garbage bag (you have to buy special city ones, basically you pay for how much trash you have)
    ~a roll of paper towels
    ~a big bunch of bananas for people like me who get cranky when food isn't readily available (and you                              know, for dessert).
The pavilion where we gathered and ate.  Everyone is turned to watch our very riveting game of kick ball. None of us had played since elementary school but someone got the amazing idea that we should play. With ripped bits of cardboard for bases and a soccer ball we were ready to go. It was Team America (I think we actually called ourselves Team Scrambles but everyone else called it Team America) versus Team Accents (for everyone from South Africa, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and Canada). Obviously, Team America won. I even managed to play without causing bodily harm to myself or anyone else. And while I managed to score some runs I did not once manage to catch or contribute usefully to my team in anyway while manning the field. This did not exactly come as a surprise to anyone involved.

See the flying figure with bright pink shoes? That's me! Running successfully between second and third base. And no, I haven't suddenly developed a paunch, that's my sweatshirt bunching awkwardly. Though it does bring me to a very awkward lunch conversation from today:

After finishing everything on my plate I go and get a giant second helping of rice.
Me: (in response to an incredulous look) I'm hungry!
Co-worker: Don't you want side dishes?
Me: I ate them already. See? Points to obvious sauce stains from the 3 sides.
Co-worker: Rice has many calories. Eat some side dishes and some rice, not so many calories.
Me: But I want the calories.
Co-worker: Looks absolutely incredulous.
Me: If I don't get enough calories, I get dizzy. The vegetables don't have enough calories.
Co-worker: Shakes head. Okay.

I do usually get seconds of the veggies too except that today they were so spicy it hurt my mouth. The gigantic helping of rice was also to help get rid of the pain.  And before you scold me Mom, I did go grocery shopping this afternoon for fruit and nuts to stash at work for when I get low on sugar between meals. I even got enough to share with my co-teacher.

Back to the conversation: In America, when people make pointed comments about your food being fattening they are usually trying to hint at something. However, in Korea I weigh what I did back in high school. I'm thin even on the Korean scale of things. It makes it very awkward to have conversations that you Know aren't meant to be insulting in the slightest and yet somehow leave you feeling slightly despondent.

...Back to the BBQ.
It was a gorgeous night. An easy night where it was effortless to be in the moment and just enjoy life.

Sorry about the once a week posting. I have several post ideas lined up but not having a computer makes me an extremely lazy (lazier?) blogger.


Nancy K said...

What fun. Glad you got yourself some snacks finally. We've had this conversation before. Are those skinny jeans the ones I remade from college?

Alex said...

Of course they are. I don't own that many pairs of non-work pants.

Kristin said...

I love those photos, especially the last one. Sounds like a really good time, and you eat as much rice as you need!

Alex said...

Thanks, Kristin.

eraponte said...

I almost thought this was going to be a getting-lost-in-Korea-and-stumbling-upon-a-festival type story... But I'm glad to see those ankles in motion... Woo team america!!