Dear Inquisitive Stranger,
The Americano perfectly compliments my rainy morning spectator sport. Between sips, the subjects of my people watching switch between contrasting groups, yet the facial expressions for both categories is crabby.
Pouty faces in the glossy magazine glare at me with icy eyes that could freeze Hawaii during a heatwave. Don’t expect these gazelles to bring you a fruit basket when you move into the neighbourhood. I wonder, why the waif wearing a 2 million won overcoat looks more glum than my other focus group, the folks outside tramping through the torrent?
Like inky waves, the ominous umbrella sea rolls beyond the window. Grim mouths are slashed across the damp faces of pilgrims cutting short their peregrination to get out of the rain. Like great bats, their umbrellas cast deep, dour shadows on an already grey day. It is no wonder these puddle jumpers look as melancholy as the growling clouds thick with menace. When the weather sets a moody film noir backdrop, why choose a miserable umbrella? Perhaps a better question to ask: does the colour of your umbrella affect your mood?
My people watching research project is yielding some interesting results. The beaming grin of Ms Yellow Brolly supports my hypothesis that a happy umbrella = a happy mood. Yet there are more murky brollies than bright canopies carried above the heads of the people passing by. Clearly my grasp of human psychology is as flimsy as the fate of the floppy disc.
Returning my attention to flicking through Harper’s Bazaar, I note the glamorously dressed models look as optimistic as the dark umbrella people. One fashion taboo seemingly fated to never become a fashion do is registering facial expression, lest a radiant smile eclipses designer rags. Sigh. When did building a clothing brand on positive vibes and sunshine become uncool?
I reach for a new magazine. Aah, luminous wedding faces shine forth from the pages. Trust the newlyweds to bring all the teeth and marvellous crows feet eyes. Roald Dahl must have just rolled attended yet another Dahl family nuptial ceremony when he penned:
Ascending the stairs to the cavernous 2nd floor, I discover the washroom window is dressed in pages of models from a fashion magazine. Still no sign of amusement here. Every silver lining has a cloud.
Exiting the bathroom, I hear the lighthearted chatter of leisure radiating from a merry band of knitters. Knit one, purl one, chitchat. They babble back and forth, yarn eyes engrossed in the twists of fleece.
What a contrast these lively ladies make to the morose models and sooty umbrella carriers. I have an urge to weave a scarf so that I can hang out with these girls. They know that friends and colourful balls of wool are all the batteries you need on a gloomy, grey day.
Dear Stranger, let’s be inspired by the knitters and other beacons of bliss on these sludge sky days. Blast the sparkles into your world with chuckles galore, hobbies and plenty of natural light. All three are available if you head over to the bright and airy world of ‘Alver Coffee’ on a Thursday morning. Remember to take your knitting needles.
Alver Coffee – glossy magazines available for a smile spotting treasure hunt
34 Gangnam-daero 102-gil, Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
Sinnonhyeon station, line 9, exit 4
Hey! This letter was posted at ‘Alver Coffee’ for a stranger to find in the hope it might brighten their day.
If you are the Inquisitive Stranger that picked it up, do get in touch. I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘Cafe Alver’, umbrellas, knitting or anything that inspires your fingers to type.
Perhaps you found this blog instead of the letter, it would be wonderful to hear from you too.