From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

The Old Man in the Train

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Three days ago, I had an unforgettable encounter with a drunk ajossi (old man) on the bus. That kind of incident doesn’t happen to me all the time, (Thank God!) but sometimes on my commute to work or home, something unexpected happens.

While watching this video of a 63~year old man who played the piano at the LRT 2 Cubao Station on January 12 and wowed commuters with his impromptu performance, I suddenly remember an old man who got on the same train I took on my way home from work one night. He was playing the guitar and singing, I suppose, to entertain the passengers. I thought he was doing a great job. I was actually enjoying his music, and wondering as I was listening to him if I should give him some money before I get off… but then I noticed that he was decently dressed. He didn’t look like one of those people who play music in the street for money.

No one seemed to care about him or his music. Other passengers were asleep; some were going about their own business, chatting with their companions, reading books, watching videos in their Galaxy Tabs, playing with their cell phones or listening to their own kind of music in their MP3’s or iPod‘s. He played one song after another with so much enthusiasm… and I thought he deserved a round of applause or at least a smile from the passengers, but he didn’t get any, not even from me… not that I didn’t want to show him my appreciation… but because nobody else was applauding.  In fact, some “ajumas” and “ajossis” were even telling him to stop… and when he wouldn’t do so, one of the “ajossis” stood up and sat him down to one of the elder’s seats while he was saying, “Sikkeureoyo” (NOISY in Korean).

I thought of that old man the whole night, and felt guilty that I acted (almost) like one of those apathetic passengers who were pretending not to hear the lovely music he was playing. I thought of that MEAN AJOSSI, too. Maybe he had a bad day at work or life had been so grim on him that he has turned into a real~life SCROOGE.


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