Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Pretty Good Week.

Cast is off now, but I have to wear a sort of glove like thing that acts as a brace for my hand. The bone has healed, but the soft tissue not yet. My hand feels weak and tingly and my wrist still hurts like hell if I bend it at all. But there's an improvement from day to day, and I've started to write longhand with it again which is a terrific relief because I just couldn't think properly with my right hand out of action!

Tuesday got invited to a do for International Women's Day by the US Embassy. Only twenty or so Malaysian women invited - the others dynamic ladies doing stuff like rescuing battered wives, heading corporations, leading political parties, giving legal representation to ingenous people. Beside them,I felt a bit of a fraud. What do you do? people asked. Deep breath. Well, I'm actually an arty-farty-literatti these days I said, and I guess I got invited because I twisted the arm of the embassy last year to fly us out a writer (Oscar Hijuelos! *sigh*) for our literary festival. It was very nice to see Jamilah again - she was so helpful in organising the whole venture. In fact I think that the main thing I got out of organising the literary festival (or KLitfest as dear old Dina Zaman insists on calling it!) was the links I made with different organisatiosn and foreign missions.

The Deputy Chief of Mission who was hosting the event gave a speech about liberty and democracy (as you might expect) and the wonderful contribution made by women and how Malaysian women in particular are a force to be reckoned with. He told us that Condoleza Rice was going to celebrate the day by meeting women from Afganistan and Iraq.

There was a buffet spread but it was so hard to coordinate plate and teacup and plaster cast and keep up a flow of polite conversation with people. I really worked the room though, chatted to as many women as possible. Tried to interest them in promoting my creative writing course to their organisation. (Every opportunity is a marketing opportunity!)

Ohhhh ... and there was the most divine chocolate cake I've ever tasted - crisp crust, light mousse filling - wasn't successful in getting the recipe though. (State secret, apparently.)

Afterwards I walked to KLCC to take the LRT home, but once I was in Suria I decided to go to TGV to catch Sepet. I'm usually so lazy about catching films at the cinema and genrally don't end up seeing them until they finally make it to ASTRO. But Sepet was a must-see and I'm just sorry I didn't go for the premier with the My-Word-Up guys.

I found it a tender, gentle film, with some very funny moments. The casting was excellent, especially the young leads. At last a Malaysian film that addressed the issue of race and cross-cultural friendships, and made the point that each culture has so much to give to other cultures. (There was a little heavy handed didacticism at moments, but I find it easy enough to forgive that.) Loved the way that the dialogue moved between languages - English, Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien - reflecting the way that Malaysians really do negotiate communication.

The only thing I really didn't like about the film was the ending which I felt was a cop-out and the only part of the film that came across as drama-minggu-ini-ish.

Really enjoyed hearing the reactions to it from the audience (almost entirely Malay)around me - who were clearly very much enjoying themselves.

After the film several people came up to ask me what I thought about it because they found it odd to see a Mat Salleh (European) watching a Malay film. One girl asked if I wearing the cast on my arm in sympathy with the character of Keong!

I have a second debt of gratititude to Yasmin Ahmad - every time I take the LRT someone gives up their seat for me immediately, without my neeeding to put on my pathetic look. Still I do hope that this generosity of spirit is prompted by the cast on my arm rather than my looking like a senior-citizen.

Wednesday I was back in town again to chair the video conference with author Toby Litt at The British Council - a great chance to pick up some insider information about writing. This of course deserves an entry of its own.

Thursday had lunch with Oon Yeoh, vegetarian dim sun and noodles at Nature Cafe in PJ while we talked about possible happenings for MPH Writer's Circle. (How do I get drawn into these things?) We also had a chat about publishing, though Oon Yeoh is not into publishing fiction.

Thursday was the second session for my course. It went really well and the group has gelled. Everyone was more relaxed, sceptisicm replaced by a willingness to play and share stories. And it's fascinating to see where the imagination leads when you let it.

I realised when I got home that night that something strange had happened to me: for the first time in months happiness has come and bitten me on the bum.


Anonymous said...


Glad to hear your cast is off. Keep blogging and writing!


bibliobibuli said...

Hi Lydia - great to hear from you and thanks for your support. Am enjoying your articles in The Star.