The Asian Market Chronicles: Into the New World 다시 만난 세계
by Fateh K.
What do you notice when you enter a grocery store? The displays? The fragrances? The person handing out samples? Quit shamelessly grabbing and pocketing samples for a second and pause. Close your eyes and open your ears. Chances are you are now experiencing what many people ignore, Asian Market white noise.
Once again I find myself partaking in another pseudo-sojourn to East Asia via an Asian Market in charming Upstate New York during winter time, seeking refuge from the bitter cold and snow, buying my standard bag of instant dumplings, instant ramen, and instant curry (amazing how lazy people demand food fast). Once purchasing my sustenance, I stopped for a moment, tearing the Velcro from my wallet to stuff my change and receipt, I heard the phrase “Saranghae” in the distance with a catchy tune . I started to rock my head back in forth, feeling the beat and walking towards the exit with a jaunty quasi-dance saunter. After pointing at the speakers, one of the associates simply said “Girls Generation” with a thumbs up. I repeated the name of the band a few times and embarked on a journey to find a CD.
Keeping in mind this was before “The Boys” came to America, the only chance of me physically purchasing a CD was to go to a Korean Music Store. Executing a simple internet search I found the only store selling Korean Music in the whole of New York was in Korea Town in New York City. The practical side of me suggested to get a copy online, however the headstrong alpha-male in me said to purchase a two-hour bus ride from the Rensselaer Train Station to Manhattan and brave the treacherous snow. Of course I listened to the latter because I’m a single guy who has nothing better to do with his time or disposable income, and I knew at some point I would be writing this article a year later for KKonnect.
As the bus headed south on Interstate 87 towards passing the picturesque Catskill Mountains towards downstate New York, I had my route planned from Madison Square Garden to a Korean music store near West 32nd St and Broadway and Koreatown. Upon exiting the bus in downtown Manhattan. I was greeted with an arctic blast of good ol’ east coast wake me up (and yes, cold weather does exist my San Diegan Friends). I walked at a rather strong pace, weaving through the constant dynamic flux of speedy New Yorkers and taking brief stops at fast food restaurants for directions and French fries.
Entering the KPOP Store, I exhaled feeling the warmth and comfort of centralized heating. What I witnessed was a trendy market place with posters of glamorous women with fierce looks and men who look very cosmopolitan and fancy. I grabbed my first $30.00 KPop CD- Girls Generation “Run Devil Run” and saluted the store-owner with a smile as big as Upstate New York for lack of knowledge of any conversational Korean.
On the two hour bus ride back to Albany, I was able to reflect on my journey while twirling the plastic bag carrying my new CD in a state of bemusement. A simple white noise playing on the speakers of a market, sparked my interest in Korea, influenced me to take a trip to Manhattan, and drove me to spend a premium on a CD. Sometimes a pseudo-sojourn, can turn into a real sojourn.
On a separate note, besides the brisk weather, Manhattan is a quintessential world destination. Historic buildings, awe-inspiring architecture, deluxe shopping, diverse cuisine, the ladies look glamorous and have fierce looks, and the guys look very cosmopolitan and fancy. Also, you can get skewered kebabs street side for a fair price. And for those of you hardcore Girls Generation fans, I know “Into the New World” was not on the “Run Devil Run” CD, however the latter wouldn’t make sense for the title of this article, so please forgive me.
And for those of you hardcore Girls Generation fans, I know “Into the New World” was not on the “Run Devil Run” CD, however the latter wouldn’t make sense for the title of this article, so please forgive me. And for those who are curious, my CD package had a poster of Yoona on it. Yay!