Friday, 28 September 2012

(Day 70) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center-day 57 C-26

sit-ups push-ups chairlifts
1 x 120 2 x 30, 1 x 40 3 x 30

Breakfast 2 hard boiled eggs
soy milk
2 small muffins
Lunch rice
gravy with chicken and veggies
shredded potatoes
tuna salad
potato in hot water (they call this soup?)

Who Am I kidding? I'm still an asshole. Just because some Chinese dude shares a snack doesn't mean I've misjudged his character. Maybe he just had an extra snack he didn't want to throw out. He still walks and paces around too much and it still annoys me. And when he's talking to his other compatriots, they are all still incapable of talking without shouting at each other.

The Russian kid thinks this is all fun and games, but at his age, it's not surprising that he fails to see the seriousness of the situation. And Korean kids can be merciless to those who are not Korean, so I can imagine his school life is hell. It's no wonder he wants to go back to Russia. He probably hasn't had this much attention in his whole life. Here, everybody is concerned about his welfare-- giving him snacks and stuff, playing games with him, talking to him... In school, he'd probably be the only white person/foreigner  in the whole school and the other boys would go after his non-Koreanness. He can speak Korean, but he probably can't read or speak it as well as he is expected to by the teachers. They would more likely point this out and ridicule this weakness then understand and try to work past it. I feel sorry for him and it looks like his only way out is if his fine is paid. He wants to go back to Russia where his grandparents are apparently.

The kids bought playing cards (as well as a shitload of junk food-- substituting that for a real meal of rice and kimchi at lunch today) during our twice-weekly goods purchase. I only bought a phone card and batteries for my electric razor-- I traded coffee for a free drawing earlier in the week. Knowing human nature, the other detainees are going to fleece the kid of his junk food, using his own playing cards to do it. I'm sure they'll all share it back with him, but still its inevitable. Taking candy from a baby...

Going into the Chuseok weekend, we're up to 16 detainees so far... 9 Chinese, 1 Vietnamese 1 Thai, 1 Russian, 1 Uzbekistan, 1 Bangladeshi  1 Filipino and myself-- 1 Canadian. It's very crowded in the sleeping area and there is barely enough room at the table to eat.

In 70 days, I've managed to read 27 books (slightly more than a book in two days) I have 6 more books to go and 26 days left. 3 of those 6 books are pretty big though, so I might be alright. To be honest, the novels only took less than a day and one or two of the non fiction books took up to a week.

Some of the other things I've accomplished in 70 days:

  • quit smoking
  • lost beer gut and got skinnier, but gained 3 kilograms
  • no alcohol or other recreational drugs
  • read the entire Bible cover to cover
  • wrote over 100 pages-- usually 2 to 3 per day  or about 35 thousand words
  • drawn approximately 50 pictures, a dozen or so that have the potential to be paintings
  • eaten rice and kimchi 127 times in a row

I am re-reading Lord of the Flies and it got me to thinking about the different ways detainees have made substitutions for things that we lack. Exercise makes up a big part of most of our daily lives, simply for lack of anything better to do. Since we have no actual the equipment, we make do with what we have-- tables bolted to the floor and bottles. I use the table to brace myself when I do sit-ups or as an incline when I do push ups and chair-lifts. The bottles are 1.5 liters each, which, when filled with water, equal 1.5 kg each. Two of them tied together with string, confiscated from mops, makes a 3 kg weight. Four bottles give you weights for each arm. Not a lot, but enough. A number of strings from the mop make up a pretty decent clothes line.

Someone tried to commit suicide by drinking shampoo (which is why we have none now). I'm surprised no one has tried to weave a rope using the mop... but I'm getting sidetracked...

Sometimes, we get juice for breakfast and the container it comes in has a small round sticker on the lid. The stickers are used as a replacement for tape, which has been used to stick up posters and pictures taken from magazines to decorate the cell. One ingenious person has used the container our toothbrushes come in to fashion a pen holder on the side of the telephone, stuck on with the aforementioned stickers. The same juice containers are also used for table salt since the shit that passes for soup is really tasteless as it's really nothing more than hot water and veggies most of the time. Another previous tenant has taken some of the pages from the calendars hanging outside our cells and made a checkerboard and I've seen at least one person (the unchristian Nigerian) make a complete set of chess pieces drawn on some cardboard squares. Every cell I've been in also has a checkerboard carved into the top of the picnic table. How this is done previously puzzled me since no one has anything metal or anything even remotely hard or strong enough to carve up wood on the table. Yet, they are covered with graffiti scratched into them. I think the most common instruments of destruction are the pull tabs that have been broken off  from zippers. Our mattresses are made from foam covered with cloth that have zippers along the side. Some of them are missing the pull tab. I've also noticed the hinges on the bathroom stalls missing a screw here and there... screws I've found and used to make a few marks on my own on the table. Boredom and lots of time is the mother of invention, as much as necessity.