4 (Mon) February 2019
Mako Karei Karaage
at Seryna (Little Tokyo)
with RDE, HRS et al.
Almost exactly 10 years ago, on 24 January 2009, at the 124th Session of the WHO Executive Board at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, I had the privilege of witnessing Dr Shin’s appointment as WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. I didn’t know then that I would be working for him 5 years later (see generally 5.005 Ki for Ki), at the start of his second 5-year term. At the 144th EB last week, having served two glorious terms in office, he handed over the keys to his successor (more on that later) and thereby became Regional Director Emeritus. If I’d been there, I might’ve cried a bit. Today, first day on the job, the new WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific called a “town hall meeting” for all staff to describe his vision and pledge his commitment over the next 5 years, with his predecessor on hand for support. Afterwards, a select few were invited to join the new RDE for a casual dinner before he goes back to Korea for a long and well-earned vacation (he bought a place in Manila, so he’ll be back). While I’ve been called upon to serve in a quasi-official capacity to coordinate countless dinners for Dr Shin during my time here – always griping, but always thrilled to do so – I didn’t have any functional role here tonight, so I was truly honored to have been invited. I was also present at the dinner in Geneva following Dr Shin’s appointment back in 2009, so what a perfect bookend to the story. I’m so glad that I restarted GMTD, just in time to capture this moment.
Tonight, when I showed him the photo above, he smiled and thanked me for being there, and for supporting his campaign, including to draft his campaign communications materials, especially the campaign brochure. I was absolutely dumbfounded – until that moment, I’d thought that he didn’t remember me from that time, as I had done the work behind the scenes and never discussed matters directly with him. In fact, I myself had forgotten about the brochure altogether, until coming across a copy of the brochure while organizing my stuff a few years back. I set it aside to get an autograph, but couldn’t relocate it to secure an autograph before he left office. Fortunately, he still has a few extra copies and promised to sign one for me. RDE.
The food, down to every last dish, and so many of them, was exemplary. Fresh, expertly seasoned, expertly plated. And frankly I don’t believe what they later told me was the final bill, but reportedly very reasonably priced.
The deep-fried aji was perfect. Exquisitely tender and flaky pieces of flesh, lightly dredged in flour and delicately cooked in fresh oil (in the Philippines, some restaurants overuse their deep-frying oils, leaving an off-flavor). Best of this kind of thing that I’ve ever tried.