It's been a whirlwind year (since the last time I posted here): newly engaged to M in Thailand in February, new house in North London in March, new job in Noho (just north of Soho, obviously!) in May and in the midst of all this I've still been enjoying London. Last week, for example, we saw Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem perform Sacred Monsters at Sadler's Wells in a sexy modern mesh of classical Indian and classical Western dance forms.
"I have spent my life studying and performing kathak. It is the source of my creative process. Working with Sylvie Guillem is an exciting new challenge, giving me the opportunity to explore another classical dance language with one of its greatest exponents, and as a result unearth the things that are most often lost between the classical and modern world" Akram Kahn.My first encounter with Akram Kahn
My second encounter with Akram Kahn
My third encounter with Akram Kahn
We also saw a couple of films from London's Asian Film Festival - Firecracker: the tempestuous modern Indian gothic movie "Ek Hasina Thi" (2004) directed by Shimit Amin about an unassuming young woman wreaking havoc and revenge on the dashing lover who has embroiled her in his murky underworld dealings; and a melancholy triptych of stories about love and loneliness in Singapore by director Eric Khoo - "Be With Me" (2006), which received a five minute standing ovation when it premiered in Cannes and which had me sobbing by the end.
The films haven't always been good. Last night I was out with my friend R, who is leaving London for Ireland, India and Hong Kong soon, and we were bored out of our minds by the rom-com movie Trust The Man. I had wanted to see it for a little light chick flick entertainment after a hard week at work, but it was too bland to be entertaining.
Our unsettling excitement of the night - save for several glasses of very nice Pinot Blanc at the Cork & Bottle Wine Bar off Leicester Square and some lovely sushi at Taro in Soho -- was towards the end of the movie when out of the corner of my eye I spied a shadowy figure walking past me. He hunkered down low on a seat two rows in front of us and when I looked over, all I could see shining through the darkness was the whites of two eyes peering through the gaps in the seats at me. I trained my eyes on the screen and after a few minutes I felt him move back past me to the other side of the seats and hunker down again. I alerted R and we scurried out of the cinema before the movie ended, relieved to be away from the white-eyed man and the boring film.
My trip home on the Tube was equally eventful, but in a sweet way. At Kings Cross, a gaggle of drunk girls in their mid to late teens hopped on the train in short skirts, high heels and flashing rabbit ears on their heads. It was close to midnight and one girl kept shouting out to her friends, "Four minutes to go, four minutes to go, and then I'll be nineteen!!". Midnight came and all her friends sang happy birthday, encouraging the rest of us to sing along too. Another woman sitting in front of me rose as the train lurched into a station and she wished the girl a happy birthday and pecked her on the cheek then said it was her birthday too. The girls shrieked and sang her "Happy Birthday Kate" as she got off. A few stops later another passenger told the girls that they had made him happy because it too was his birthday. Not believing their luck, the girls launched into "Happy Birthday Kevin". By the time I got off the train, the entire carriage was smiling or laughing - a rare occurrence on the London Underground!
In recent weeks I have discovered the sublime wonder of Yauatcha in Soho - Alan Yau's gorgeous all-day teahouse and dim sum restaurant that serves 150 varieties of tea (including the subtle and fragrant white tea which apparently has more antioxidants than green tea) as well as 24 varieties of dim sum and a range of exquisite pastries (my favourate being a blackcurrant mousse sitting on a biscuit base and topped with fresh blackcurrants); and the chilli hot revelation of Bar Shu also in Soho - a Sichuan restaurant in which most of the dishes are flavoured with Sichuan pepper, to tongue tingling and numbing effect! On my birthday in August my fiance M took me to the fabulously expensive Roka restaurant and Sochu Lounge where we downed saki and shochu cocktails and ate incredibly flavourful and fresh sushi and other Japanese dishes.
I've also been discovering new places to eat through work: Navarro's tapas restaurant, Fino tapas restaurant and Italian restaurant Passione, to name a few.
Since my last post, I made the leap from the charity to the corporate sector and my new job at a big international digital marketing agency is also very hectic and exhilerating.
On top of all this work and play, we've been managing to find time for a spot of wedding planning. We realised recently that there is a February theme to our relationship: we started dating in February 2005, we got engaged in February 2006, and we're getting married in February 2007. So we've been busy registering our intention to marry with the local council (last week) and booking a venue (in Hampstead by the Heath), sorting out catering (today), music (nearly there - found a classical Indian band), working out the guest list and invitations.
A few weeks ago we attended the civil partnership ceremony of two female friends of ours who have been together for 10 years and have 3 children. I was honoured to be one of the witnesses. The ceremony itself was simple and moving and the party the next night raucous and fun. On top of the sheer happiness we felt at witnessing the official celebration of the union of two of our closest friends, we began getting very excited over our own ceremony next year.
But now I've tentatively started blogging again, I'm sure you'll be bored by all sorts of wedding planning!