(Glimpses from behind the lines organising the first KL Litfest, taken from my notebook. This was written July 1 2004)
July has come upon me too fast. I had anticipated a 31st June ...
Went to hotel in city centre today with Usha and Lorna to check over the rooms and facilities for Litfest. There was a seminar (on reading) on at the hotel and met an old teaching friend of mine I hadn't seen for years. Kurnia had been doing her PhD in the US ... but had returned to Malaysia for cancer treatment. She's had operations for tumours in her throat, breast and elsewhere ... but at the moment is in remission and determined to come through it.
Went over to bookshop p.m. with heavy heart. Raman all smiles as if last Friday had never happened, and I managed to get him to sit down and talk about the programme. He's come up with his own version of the thing, though fortunately hasn't changed too much about. All that anger and pain over what has ended up being one or two small changes in the end! The programme is not as I would have wanted it to be, but as a compromise solution it will work okay and save his face, and him turning round at some future point of time and saying I told you so when things go wrong.
Lorna gave him the full blast of her fury for having delayed the programme. I was proud of her.
A very nice Indian woman came in to the shop to volunter her services for the Litfest, a friend of Yolanda's. When we asked what she does for a living she said in a very larconic voice, I'm a professional dilentante. Other people think I should have ambition and do things, she added, so here I am.
The guys from the US Embassy came by for a business chat with Lorna. They are apparently thinking of having a party for Oscar Hijuelos when he comes, with lots of latin music and dancing. I said, I must come. And they said, of course ... and we are also going to invite our friends from the other embassies, particularly those from Latin America. I said, you can invite the Cubans ... oops ... and bit my tongue. Not the C word, they said and laughed.
(Originally written 8/7/04)
Litfest preparations move on. Raman is not saying a lot to me, and maintaining a polite distance. He also doesn't seem to be delegating much to me, which I won't complain about. Today I'm worrying about my Japanese writer, who at the last moment says he wants to run a three-hour haiku workshop which will involve some kind of walkabout to look at nature and scribble stuff on paper. Great, except now I have to find a venue - which involves moving other sessions around. Am also discovering how easily offended some of our local writers are - difficult personalities that will need to be handled carefully.