Me and some other foreigners in Harpa

Because I am cleaning out my apartment, I have no food in my house. So around noon yesterday I thought I should probably head out and get myself something to eat. The food options in Reykjanesbær aren't great, so I decided what the heck, I'll drive to the city and take a peak at Harpa after lunch.

I made the decision to wear a pair of corduroy jeans and clogs, in the hopes that some people might think I was a tourist. 

But my rouse did not work. As I was standing in line--there were lines to get into each performance hall and I chose to jump into the shortest one I found, having no idea what event was being shown therein*--the man in front of me in line grabbed my arm and the arm of the old Icelandic guy standing behind me in line and said, "Þið eruð par, er það ekki?" Thankfully at that moment they opened the door so neither of us had to answer this awkward question. 

The awkwardness continued inside. The seating situation was like it would be in movie theatre, because of course none of us had tickets or assigned seats. And in fact this performance hall, their smallest one and I think called the Cold Lagoon, is the same size as your average theatre screening room. The seats are at a similar angle also, but of course instead of a big white screen, there is a wide open raised stage, in this case outfitted with a grand piano and some chairs and microphones. Anyhow, I had grabbed an aisle seat, and could hear the ushers running up and down the stairs talking to each other about the Japanese Ambassador coming. As the hall filled up, and the clock neared starting time, he had still not arrived. At around this time, the guests who could not find seats began sitting in the stairs. I heard the usher go up to the two at the bottom of the stairs--a younger and older woman, perhaps mother and daughter--and invite them to take seats in the front row. Then another usher removed pieces of paper laying on the seats in the front row (I assume they said, "Reserved for the Japanese Embassador").  Further up the stairs, right next to my seat, sat three people in their early 20s. I had heard them speaking and was pretty sure they were speaking Polish. It was two guys and a girl. The usher came up to them, and was telling them to go the seats in the front just as the Japanese Ambassador arrived. 

He and his companion, probably his son, quickly walked in and took two seats front and center. One space over from their right sat the two Icelandic women. One seat over to their left sat a man in a puffy jacket and jeans. The three Polish people now made their way down to the front, and in order for them to all sit together on the far left side, the lone man had to stand up and scoot one seat over, which put him shoulder to shoulder with the Japanese Ambassador. The Japanese Ambassador and his son immediately stood up and scooted one seat over, so that the son was now shoulder to shoulder with an Icelandic woman and the Ambassador had no one next to him. 

Harpa may be a very big shiny building, but what unfolds there are little human dramas.

*The concert turned out to be jazz guitar, very cool


Anonymous said…
And what did you hear?
Lissy said…
Kazumi Watanabe.

He played with an Icelandic jazz guitarist, and they ended with a playful improv jam.
Jon said…
I am glad Harpa is up and running. Lissy, how do you handle the culture shock between California and Iceland? It seems so second nature to you. I have been to both places and it would make me laugh hysterically while banging my head against a wall.
Lissy said…
Hahaha, Jon, I have no idea how I do it. Except I have been doing it since I was 7 years old, and it would feel very strange not to have a trip to Iceland planned sometime or another in my near future.
Halla said…
Ég var einmitt stödd í Reykjavík um helgina en treysti mér ekki til að heimsækja Hörpuna. Sá bara fyrir mér troðning og raðir. Komst svo að því daginn eftir að framvegis verður hægt að kaupa sig inn í skoðunarferðir. Frekar fúlt.
Hahaha....þetta hefur verið frekar fyndin uppákoma! Svona eins og tafl....eða stólaleikur....There´s this game with´re supposed to stand up and move about-then you try to grab a seat as the music stops. Maybe they should have that instead of a might be quite funny!
Lissy said…
Haha, well what I was going for was more of a Clifford Geertz style "deep description" of winks, fake winks, and double winks. Each person that moved did so for an entirely different reason, and what amazed me is how none of them seemed to be aware of why the others were moving. It was cultural misunderstanding at its best, I thought, and that is actually pretty uncomfortable to watch!

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