Requisite Season

Lately I’ve been reading Helen Dewitt’s The Last Samurai, listening to Gene Harris’s Live in London, and consuming this enigmatic tea:

The owner of the café, who I will call Imo because that’s what I call her, just brought it to my corner seat. Imo said her little sister had sent it from Iran, and when I asked how someone from Naju could possibly end up in Iran, she said, “Oh, she works there.” I was calculating my follow-up question when Imo pulled out her phone and started scrolling through her sister’s Instagram. The photos she showed me looked like anywhere but Iran: little sister dancing in a party dress, little sister sunbathing, little sister peeking out from under a comforter.

“She’s 43,” Imo explained, “and I know she looks young now, but she’ll catch up to me soon. I’m over 50, as you know.”

I did not know.

Then Imo went and watered her plants for a while, and I did a section in my linear programming textbook. When she returned, she gave me plastic bag filled with what she called 보름밥 (fifteen-day rice), which as best as I can tell is a homely way of referring to 오곡밥 (five-grain rice), rice cooked together with ginkgo nuts, beans, and other assorted protein nuggets. As she put the rice and a few seaweed packets into a shopping bag from Guess, Imo explained that the early weeks of February (the first fifteen days of the lunar year, I gather) are the requisite season for eating this kind of mixed rice.

Perhaps I understand the strong duality theorem, but I can make no sense of my daily interactions.