I kind of got married on Saturday.
But I should emphasise the ‘kind of’ part of that statement. Habiba and I and a couple of friends went to see a half-price performance of Nanta (half-price because of a special ‘brunch’ event that cost half the usual 60,000 if you came in a group including at least one foreigner and one Korean). Nanta is a very successful Korean show, vaguely along the lines of Stomp or the Blue Man Group, which consists of a combination of drumming, dance, comedy and audience participation.
The stage is designed to be a kitchen, and the story line (expressed here in knowingly cute Konglish) involves four cooks – the master chef, the ‘sexy guy’, the ‘female’ (seriously – that’s how the character was described on photos in the lobby) and the owner’s nephew – having to prepare a wedding feast for ‘seex-o’-cla”.
The whole thing was hugely entertaining – the main four actors are very fit, very agile and very funny. There was lots of drumming with improvised drums and sticks – one memorable sequence involved sometimes-synchronised, sometimes-competitive drumming with pairs of big knives on chopping boards. The final set piece had the actors pounding away thunderously on large food drums.
The humour was very Korean – quite broad, lots of mugging, lots of slapstick, lots of caricaturish character interaction, a small dose of bum-related jokes (one character gets a brush handle accidentally shoved up his arse). It sounds annoying, but the actors’ charisma and the positive atmosphere in the theatre made it all work, and work well.
At one point, the characters were tasting a soup they had made, but the cooks couldn’t agree with the owner, so they brought a couple of people down on to the stage – one of those people was me. I was audience participated. I was quickly dressed in a traditional Korean hat and coat-thing. A young woman had been brought down from the other side of the audience and similarly attired. We had to taste a thick, creamy soup. The characters soon got distracted by a fly buzzing loudly around the kitchen. As they tried to deal with it they kept motioning for us to continue tasting the soup.
Then the fly landed on my hat. There was a moment where everyone froze, then crept towards me. They bonked me on the head. Then they hypnotised me. Then we all pronounced judgment on the soup. And the other audience victim and I had to link arms while the ‘Wedding March’ played and rice rained down. And that’s how I got married.
Later in the evening we spent a few hours playing Monopoly (finally – it’s the first time I’ve used my Monopoly set).
The following day was Habiba and my first anniversary. One year since our first real date, going to watch Burn After Reading up in Nowon. We slept in somewhat, then exchanged gifts. She made me a wonderful poster and card set, the former showing the stages of a seed sprouting, becoming a sapling and finally a strong tree; the card compares our love to that process. The poster is very impressive – all the images are cut from paper and the tree is home to a few golden birds.
I gave Habiba a box set of Meerkat Manor, which I’d wrapped up and decorated with a few paper flowers and leaves. We’ve been watching a lot of meerkat antics in the last few days. In the evening on Sunday, I took Habiba to a ‘Korean traditional vegetable restaurant’ called Pulhyangi. It was a very nice place and our meal consisted of lots of tiny dishes served almost constantly. Good food was eaten.
Today, I took my passport to Immigration and applied for an Alien Registration Card, as, just like Quentin Crisp, I’m now a legal alien (only not in New York). I should get it and my passport back on the 12th of April. Not quite all the way there, yet, but I’m close to being totally settled.
The other anniversary of note is this very blog’s fourth birthday. Yes, I started my blog out of sheer boredom four years ago today at my intensely crappy temp job in the Facilities Office of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Page Street in London.
Here’s to many more years of Sean and Habiba – and writing about it.