Friday, 29 March 2013

(Day 252) Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center Day 2 (Part 2) D-?


2 eggs
orange soy drink
Lunchrice & kimchi
slimy seaweed soup

It’s Friday. Going into the weekend at ye olde detention center. As of this morning, the current cell population is 12, with one leaving. A born again Christian Iranian, a Muslim Indian mute Bangladeshi, a Mongolian, a couple of Vietnamese, Chinese and Chinese Koreans. By the end of the day, the population has increased by two-- a Pakistani and a Nigerian. It’s like a mini UN. I am still the only white person. I feel very under-represented. One last guy from Thailand arrived before the day was through.

I should have known or at least expected the incompetence of the kitchen staff to understand a simple request. I don't like rice so I asked that the rice be replaced with bread. Just the rice... nothing else, and of course I got half a loaf of bread, cabbage with French dressing and two fried eggs, because it's a set menu and the staff are too stupid to make anything but a set menu. They can substitute chicken for pork for the Muslims, but they are incapable of substituting bread for rice. In addition, it turns out they cooked the chicken and pork together and then just separated the two to serve it, so the Muslims couldn't actually eat the chicken because it was cooked in pork fat. And they are as stubborn to fulfill our requests as we are to refuse to eat the food they serve. I'm sure if the UN and Human Rights Commission weren't breathing down their necks, they wouldn't even offer the option of chicken. There’s this square box and any variation is impossible-- like the law of gravity.

To the room guard’s credit, one of them talked to me later (he actually called me Mr Tees. Since the family name comes first in Asian names, Koreans usually assume David is my family name) and explained that he tried to talk to the kitchen staff and it is the chef that refuses to budge on the whole side dish substitution. The room guard understood my concerns, but it’s not his call. At least he tried and explained later. It is a case of “this is the way it is no matter how inane it may seem and too bad.” I appreciate the effort.

Maybe it’s the cultural difference. It seems to me that people here just accept things without question and assume it can't be changed, whereas I feel everything can be changed if you question it. I also have an almost unhealthy distaste for legitimate authority. It's the social commie Canadian in me. I would say I’m an anarchist if it wasn't such a corrupted word hijacked by a bunch of dirty hippies.