Things to think about when you're going through food poisoning

Around 2am last night, I woke up with the horrific sensation that my gut had decided to wrench itself out of my body to crawl crazily out of the bedroom into the bathroom. It turned out it was actually me who was making fast progress into the bathroom, clutching my tummy. Everything after that followed the natural course of things that happen when one has fallen victim to food poisoning. I woke up in the morning feeling less pain, but I was drained. Ginger ale and some cereal helped me feel more coherent but I decided overall, I deserved the day off. Besides, my tummy was still audibly threatening riots every now and then. Time for TiVo and surfing the web, fantasising about other more glamourous jobs I could be doing.

The show I chose to watch was one of my favourites - 'Without a Trace'. It features FBI agents searching for people who go missing. I like it because usually the person does not end up dead, and it is less gory than some of the other prime time shows. On this occasion, however, the show let me down. The Korean girl (a one time fashion designer engaged to a gay Korean guy who was afraid to come out to his parents) who goes missing turns out to have been murdered by her own brother who works at the family owned deli.

At least everyone who was Korean, spoke Korean, although it was patently obvious to me that the mother was definitely not Korean. It was a much more thorough presentation than the 007 film set in North Korea where the extras were all talking in Chinese, which to me implied that from a non-Asian point of view, Asians all sound the same and it doesn't matter that there are all these different countries and cultures in that region.

At least they did bother to raise the fact that "women in our culture don't have it easy", according to the gay ex-fiance. Yes, it has been an uphill struggle on many fronts and still is. But no, that doesn't mean most girls end up trying to only date Caucasian men on the Internet. And what about the gay guy? Now that would have been interesting, while the sado-masochistic sex scene with the girl was merely pandering to stereotype.

At least they did bother to make the girl have a mind of her own, someone who didn't want to be whatever it was her parents wanted her to be. But killing her off by her own brother, just because he gets enraged with jealousy that she doesn't want to help out in the deli? Come on. Korean men aren't that stupid. Or are they?

But what is this fascination with Korean owned delis? When I was taking the ethics exam for the bar in Guam last year (it was the closest U.S. territory from Hong Kong, and it had to be taken on U.S. soil other than the embassy, of course) one of the janitors at the courthouse asked me, upon finding out that I was Korean, "So, do your parents run a deli in New York?"
"Er. No. I'm not from New York. My parents don't run a deli." I said, wondering what the heck.
"So what does your daddy do?" He asked. Mind, this was an old, old guy with bad eyesight.
"He's a banker. My mum is a housewife."

I sometimes wonder what it was that made me decide (after years of having dealt with being a stranger, an immigrant, an expat) to move to a country where I have to deal with even more layers of confused stereotyping. There are people full of the urgent need to maintain links with their culture, but don't know how to go about doing it without being traditionalist. There are people who are trying to be sensitive to minority culture but end up being offensive. Who says it's easy?

With so many ways to evolve your identity, why shouldn't everyone have an identity crisis? I asked M. what we should do if we had children and they had an identity crisis.
"Well, if we stay around here, there will be thousands of other Korean kids to share the identity crisis," he said, half jokingly, half seriously.
Or maybe not.
Who says we're going to have kids?

Just kidding.

2:11 PM |