Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Strange (to me) Beliefs - Part 1: Fan Death

Having been abroad for just over 2 and a half years now, I've been exposed to a few traditions, beliefs and superstitions that I find both comical and a touch on the odd side. Over the next couple of weeks I intend to write about a few of them. This is partially to give you an idea of some of the things I've run into out here, but also so that in future years when I look back on my younger years I'll smile remembering some things that had I not documented them would've been consigned to the recycling bin on my internal hard drive!

So Fan Death? When I first heard about it I thought it was a wind up. I was in Seoul at the time. I didn't have air conditioning in my apartment and the summer months can get particularly hot, humid and uncomfortable in South Korea. Therefore, I'd often leave my fan on full power all day. One day in class someone asked me if I had air conditioning so I explained my situation to them. They looked shocked and proceeded to inform me that I was in danger due to that well-known threat.

What exactly is fan death? Well, basically some believe that if you leave the fan on it will suck out all of the oxygen from the room. Therefore after several hours you'll pass-out and eventually die. I had to laugh. My student couldn't be serious! How could they be! So I left it as a joke and pretty much forgot all about it.

That was until a close friend of mine stayed over. We'd been drinking close to my house, it was getting pretty late so he crashed on my sofa for the night. On coming into my place, he saw that the fan was left on and went over to the windows and opened them. I was pretty drunk at the time so didn't question it. In the morning there was a puddle by the window. It had rained overnight (before you say anything gross!) and some water had leaked in. I asked my friend why he'd opened the window and he told me, in all seriousness and sincerity, that he was scared we would die.

I laughed. I felt a little bad about it, but I couldn't help it. After I explained it wasn't possible for the fan to 'eat' all the oxygen he admitted that it did sound a little far fetched but I think deep down that he still fears the miniature windmill in my room!

So there you have it. Fan Death.

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