sreda, 30. maj 2012

The Story of Little Budda and Other Bullshit

Positive thinking is a load of bullshit. It's worth only for exceptional liars or in fiction, but in the real world it just doesn't work, no matter how hard you try. In the last post I mentioned that the company at the construction site is cool. It was a lie, but I tried to convince myself that it is so. It hit me back hardly.
And here goes the story of Little Budda. He's a friend of Ssang Pyeong and it seems he's the chief of the construction, some kind of supervisor or what the hell do I know. He is a small fatso and with Ramon we nicknamed him Little Budda also for his appereance, but mostly because on his cellphone the ringtone is the Heart Sutra. Later we changed the nick to Pudding (based on an Italian wordplay, being Il Piccolo Buda e' un Budino). After few days he was only and just Asshole.
Warning: If you're an architect, carpenter, mason, free mason or even Perry Mason, DO NOT continue reading. If you do, forget everything you ever learned about building and don't try to sue me for writing nonsense.
Disclaimer: All the events and characters described in this post are real. All similarities are intentional.

Let's start with a quiz. Suppose you work on a construction site. Before you start making the concrete floor you neatly even the gravel tampon, you put the water piping and you're supposed to cover the tubes before the trucks with concrete come. I wanted to fill the wheelbarrel with gravel to cover them but I was told not to it that way, just to use the gravel that is already in the basement. OK, I can handle that, it's even easier! WRONG! When I started covering them - cleraly I had to dig holes around them to do that - I was told not to do it that way because the surface must stay even. WTF? That was the first time that I suspected Asshole is not only stupid but completely insane. To make everybody happy I took the rakes, removed the gravel from the pipes and filled it back in the holes I made and I continued raking close to the pipes. I didn't cover them a milimeter but Asshole seemed so happy that I learned something new about construction!
Few days earlier I tought he's just stupid because there was a stone wall that needed quite a lot of concrete to fill all the holes. A not very important wall so we did the job with hands, nothing fancy, but when we finished Asshole decided it needs a good washing so he took the high pressure pump and washed the wall. Can you guess how much fresh concrete remained in the holes? But it was all OK, he didn'd do it to make us redo the work, no, I will never say he's evil or bad, just... stupid.
We had many jokes about him but now I remember only one. When doing something we were in constant fear he will come to instruct us on how to do it and thus complicate our life to the top. So we kept watching for him and once Ramon asked me what is Pudding doing. I looked around and saw him on the roof. He's doing shit, I told him. Oh no, is he cloning himself?
The worst of all was that we had to live with him for a week.
On the way to Pudding's place, backpacks full of beer
The house we are building - for a priest - is in Okcheon, more than an hour drive from here, so it's really a waste of time (and sleep) to go there every day. We had our daily little scruffs with Asshole and more than one time I told him - with a big smile - that he's a fucking moron, clearly in Slovene, sometimes in italian or Serbian - and he just smiled back. Then the carpenters came. Of course he knew better then they how and what to do with wood - and they all ackonwledged his wisdom and continued to do whatever they were doing the way they were doing it. Everybody was happy. Except Ramon and me. We were given orders by asshole and, luckily, there was always a carpenter neraby to save the day. He kept giving us the wrong coatings or wax for wood but that was OK even for me, for three days we were stoned all the time for inhaling the vapors.
The real fun was watching the carpenters. They were measuring everything ten times, cutting with a precision of half milimeter, yet when they tried to assemble the stuff together it just wouldn't fit.

So the finishing was always done with the chainsaw and huge hammers.

The Korean Thor ^_^
But do not think they are some amateurs or apprentices, hell no, they are the flower of Korean carpentry!
Urgh. Argh. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Now this is a real horror story, even His Horrorship THE King Stephen couldn't make a more scary one. It happened to me to have almost a heart attack many times when some joker went boo to me out of the dark, but this time I almost shit my pants. You see, I'm writing this in my outdoor kitchen, drinking beer and fighting with frogs, mosquitos and flies that are invading my place, listening classical music from the radio. The only other sounds are the frogs from the rice fields, so I fell pretty much like there's nobody miles around. And then... Hello. Mr. Dag! Out of the darkness.. No, it's a hallucination! It can't be real! Asshole! No, not me, it was Him, THE Asshole. And he was real. I didn't notice when he came to visit my neighbors, but he payed me a visit when he went out for a smoke. And he sat in front of me, we were smiling politely at each other, and he was gone. It was like a dream. Hell no, it was a nightmare! Uh, I had to drink half bottle of beer to set my mind on the rails again...
And it was just during my last Korean lesson that I learned the word 정도 - which means an approximation, about, by the eye and so on. A very important word for Koreans! I knew that already, without knowing the word itself. It's their way of doing. I call it sloppiness. I was asked by the carpenters if I'm intersted in learning their trade, with them. I was tempted to accept but Ramon put me on the ground, saying: Yes, you are sloppy when you do things, but only from a western point of view. For them you're too accurate and you'll get your ass kicked for trying to be perfect!
And again this 정도 is another load of bullshit. Just another excuse. The same person that explained me how important is 정도 in Koreans' everyday life was pretty upset when she asked me the recipe for my bread. Um, usually I take something less than a kilo of flour, add enough makkoli and water and some salt... But Dag! You can't do it like that, you need exact measures!
Go figure.
The clou of idiotism on the job came near the end. It was time to fill the gaps on the roof with the allmighty Korean hwangto - THE clay. So to prepare a good mixture I was instructed to mix 20kg of baek cement (have no clue what it is, just that is completely white), two shovels of honest-to-God Portland cement, twenty shovels of sand and twenty shovels of dry clay. And 정도 half liter of water. I swear, it's not a joke nor is irony. It's a fact. And I was mixing that dry crap for half an hour and Asshole came to see the result. He took a handful of it and held a war council with Ssang Pyeong. The verdict: it's too dry, we need to add more water. Wow, how come you can see that? And fuck me, Asshole added less than a glass of water. Another quiz: can you guess how the mixture looked like after another twenty minutes? Yes, completely dry, as it was in the beginning! Dag, more water please, but just a little bit! OK boss, here I go, half of glass will do? Perfect! And when they turned their backs I sloshed two full buckets in the shit and in five minutes they decided it was good to use. And since I was doomed to prepare the mixture for all the day it was troublesome to put secretly the water in it every time. You see, the mixture was too moist only the times when I was seen to put "too much" water in it, otherwise it was perfect. And don't think I'm bragging about this, I've prepared tons of hwangto with Challenger and I DO KNOW how it is supposed to be the real stuff.

The last day on the site was like a holliday: Asshole was sick! It was such a joy working!

We arrived home late and a message was waiting for us: the next day Challenger will pick us at 7AM, work to do. Cool, we go to finish the roof we started two weeks ago! More than a roof we did an artwork. Not to mention the chimney - the guy really is an artist, everything is made from old broken rooftiles!

And the best of all, I made me a new friend!

After two weeks I was off for three days. The first day I did nothing, too hangovered since I had a farewell party... well, a farewell drinking with Ramon till 4 AM, we slept till 10 and after lunch Ramon was gone. The second day - yesterday - I spent the morning on my field, pulling and cutting the weeds and picked the first lettuce for lunch. In the afternoon we had some storms during which the internet connection has gone. Has not been reinstalled yet so we are all offline for the time being and I will post this as soon as we go online again.

sreda, 16. maj 2012

Busy Time

Sometimes even more than busy.Today, for example, I was on my field at 5.35AM prepairing the beds to plant hot peppers, perilla and the third round of tomatoes. The early hour is nothing special in the farmer's life, but at 8.00PM I was already stomping on the last tomatoes I planted because of the dark. And didn't manage to plant a single pepper or perilla today. OK, I don't have so many tomatoes. It's just that besides my little farming hobby now I work also on two constructions sites. One is in a village nearby so I can do an hour or so on the filed in the morning and the same in the evening when we come back. But tomorrow we go on the other that is pretty much far away so usually we don't even come back home every day. And when between all this work I can manage a day off, the only thing I want, I can and I actually do is to drink myself unconscious. I'm not complaining - we work with nice people, on one site the boss is my host Sang Pyeong and on the other is the many times mentioned Challenger. There's a lot of beer all the time and even more in the evening when we end the working day. Only my field looks really disgusting compared to the others nearby and it became a common mockery that I'm growimg weed (not THAT weed, but the common nasty green crap you can use for nothing, not even in Korea).
The worst is with my Korean lessons. You haven't done your homework? What? You haven't studied a single minute? But I really didn't have time, in the evening I'm so tired I go to sleep at nine... How can you say that, I saw you today going to the village to buy beer! You have time for THAT and no time to study?
Ah, these harsh Korean teachers! Of course in a way she is right, I'm not arguing about that, but, as I explained to her, my mental sanity is first. And I also know that the Korean educational system and their way of teaching/learning are less than perfect, to use an euphemism.
What I really start to hate are the bugs. All kind of bugs. Flying, crawling, digging, they're everywhere. It's just no fun sitting outside, drinking beer and writing this. Maybe next time I will be more productive on writing another post...