Whatever Happens… be prepared to be surprised (in Korea)

I rather love my life at the moment because all sorts of unexpected stuff is happening, and I seem to be open enough to relish it.

I’ve had two taxi drivers this week – one in KL who drove beautifully safely because he had his 6yr old son in the front with him. [I have his number if you want the safest driver in Malaysia] and then I had the most scarey ride in my life in Singapore where I managed to get from the open air theatre to the airport, including a stop to go indoors and pick up my luggage, in 25 minutes. The normal car ride direct is meant to be 40ish. 50 miles an hour up the ramp to departures overtaking cars on a tight bend who were doing the max 20mph will stay in my memory.

But hey – it was the cheapest journey because it was charged by time, and he survived to give another passenger the thrill of their lives. I only need to go through that once.

Anyway that’s a bit of a diversion, but hopefully it shows my frame of mind – “Whatever Happens…” to quote Harrison Owen open space. So today – 5 meetings with producers in Seoul. Inspiring meetings with major producers, festival programmers, and international co-ordinators. All good. Lots of new ideas.

But then, over supper, alone in a restaurant the “Whoever Comes” open space mantra kicked in. It’s the Buddha’s Birthday weekend this weekend. A holiday for everyone here in South Korea [except theatre folk fortunately]. But I love the coincidence that I am currently reading all I can by David Machie [I so recommend the Dali Lama’s Cat, and the Magician from Lhasa. Inspiring]. So meetings finished. Latest David Machie “Buddhism For Busy People: Finding Happiness In An Uncertain World” on my kindle, I wander out into the back streets around Sinsa Station (on the south bank – a bit like Clapham but with tower blocks and six lane traffic). I find a Japanese Restaurant called Romiya, highly recommended.

I’m the only diner so they put me at the front on the street to attract visitors (or scare off locals maybe). Delicious meal involving only three questions a) beef or chicken, b) asahi or san Miguel – I was told asahi better and c) rice yes or no. Decisions made. No need for a menu. Food brought to me and I could get into my kindle book.

Two pints, lovely food, a sense of calm in my Buddhist reflections, realizing how lucky and happy I was to be here. In front of me is an older gentleman, with an old briefcase, asking whether he can talk to me. I wasn’t sure whether he was the owner or a guest. He sits down with me. We are now the only 2 people in the restaurant.

It transpires that he lived in Washington for many years. He is a senior person in international work. He has now returned to Seoul. He is the director of a major tourist and education centre. He hasn’t worked in English for a while, spotted me, and thought I might not mind speaking with him. I didn’t.

We had a fascinating discussion and I recommended “Oppenheimer” to him and his colleagues – well I’m allowed to be a bit biaised. I also talk to him about the only museum in Seoul I have visited – The Owl Museum – a tiny space near the Sejong Arts Centre. He didn’t know it. I have sent a web link for him.

After he left, I was moved to a quieter table to allow the smokers to smoke, and me to read. I was immediately beside a model birdcage filled with china owls…. You get the picture – the universe is extraordinary.

Now I am back. Slides prepared for tomorrow’s talk to emerging Korean writers and producers. Time for bed.

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