Saturday, February 05, 2011

long-lost buddy

I had a great two-hour conversation with one of my very best friends today, JW Kang. He's now stationed in Navi Mumbai, a satellite of Mumbai, and in a few months his wife and children will be following him there from Seoul. They'll be in Navi Mumbai for four or five years; my friend works for Korean giant Posco, which is setting up steel production facilities in India. It'll take some time for the project to get off the ground, and JW is part of the advance team spearheading the effort. Posco's activities in India aren't without controversy, as some of you may know; my friend is, of course, hyper-aware of this fact. He tells me his colleagues are a mix of Koreans and Indians, and that caste plays a significant role in daily goings-on, sometimes creating a measure of social awkwardness, e.g., if one's boss happens to be of lower caste than oneself. JW wryly noted that foreigners are lower than the lowest caste members; this reminded me a bit of life as a foreigner in Korea, where my place in the social structure was often unclear.

We talked about life, family, politics, business (definitely outside my comfort zone), language issues (Indian accents can be pretty thick), and of course, food. It was great to hear from my buddy, who tracked me down on Skype. I wish him and his family the very best. Life in a foreign country is never easy.


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