It's three minutes until the wedding, and I'm in Seoul traffic, sweating. The grey of the high rise is indistinguishable from the sky. My fate lies, as it has so often so far in this city, in the hands of someone who speaks not a word of English. Though he'd nodded perfunctorily enough at my mention of Apgujeong station, it would be a minor miracle if I made it there on time. Being late in your own city has something inherently uncomfortable about it. Being late for the whole purpose of your trip to a foreign country is another matter altogether.
The traffic sat. Those on foot overtook those in cars. Horns buzzed in the suffocating air. I try to piece up the tiny scrap of map I have for the venue with the screen of my driver's satnav.
I take a leap of faith, grappling to win back a little bit of control over the situation.
"Drop me here," I say, my hands gesturing at the nearest kerb. He asks me a question in Korean. I point back at the kerb.
On the streets I start running the two blocks to the where I think the venue is. With a lurch, I realise that if I've misjudged the map, there's no way I'll make the wedding. Nothing like a bit of all or nothing. The roads seem to expand in the heat, stretching away from me, mocking me. The lights at the crossing are in on this twisted joke too, taking an age to turn to green. Day two in the city and I'm already jaywalking. My feet drum a rhythm into my head of the groom's words last night: "Don't be late eh, gents?"
Reaching the turning I think I need, I cut left and jog along the road which slopes up a hill. Not this one. Too early. Car showroom. Japanese restaurant. Shit. Turn corner, scan buildings. Still nothing. Check phone. 11:59. Try one further. Arts Center. Hoards of suits. Buzz of voices. Is this it?
I'm still scanning faces when a familiar voice, almost 9,000km from where I last heard it, takes a pin to my bubble of panic.
"You made it! We've got you a seat upstairs. Here's a glass of white."