"Do you know 'Gangnam Style'?"
It was one of the first questions I was asked in Istanbul. "I know about it," was all I could reply.
I was promptly coerced into viewing the video, which had 550,000,000 views back then (three weeks ago).
Then, the subject arose again in Cappadocia.
Then again in Sri Lanka. Kady and I stubbornly refused the tuktuks we had grown weary of as we navigated the rolling hills of Kandy, Sri Lanka, all of our luggage in tow. "HEY! OPA GANGNAM STYLE!" yelled a strange man at us from a hundred yards away.
"Heeeeeeeey, sexy lady," a Dutch boy sang on the beach in Maafushi, Maldives.
Arriving in Kochi, India, the receptionist's mobile ringer alerted us that the phenomenon had not escaped this sixth of the population, and when we ventured outdoors the next day, before we had even taken 300 steps a group of school boys were shouting at us once again: "OPA GANGNAM STYLE!" Kady and I had in tow a fellow Minnesotan who is living in Kolkata, India. "Is this thing happening to you as well?" we asked concerning the impromptu serenade. He had no idea what we were even talking about.
At least five times a week, when learning our nationality, a local or group of locals will exclaim, "OBAMA!"--especially in Turkey (our election-day location) and especially in Sri Lanka. Sure, there was the lone local who, upon learning of our US heritage, asked, "You know Mitt Romney?"...to which we perplexedly replied, "Huh?"
Okay, I get it: Kady and I are from the United States of America. Barack Obama is the president, and the world loves the Obama brand.
This makes sense to me.
But why, why, why does the world keep shouting Korean pop lyrics at us?