Thursday, September 27, 2007

Report: The Opening Gala

Continuing from my last post, I was saved by a simple fact: the inn was actually only three buildings away from the internet cafe. I'm not kidding. When I walked out of it, I intended to return to Ubud Palace, and there it was. The sign glowered mockingly, "Yulia."

There. I wrote it. So if I ever forgot it again, I could just connect online and read it.

Back to the report. The Ubud Readers and Writers Festival Opening Gala was something. I’m still not exactly sure what. But it was definitely something.

The thing is, I couldn’t see a thing. The event was packed. I was standing about four lines behind the the rear end of the seats. And everyone in front of me was about twenty centimeters (equals to a hundred feet, or a trillion inches—-hey, if you don’t know metrics, why do you assume me knowing your system) taller. So I relied on play-by-play commentaries from the crowd.

For instance, Janet De Neefe, the Festival Director, looked fabulous in her outfit. And if the sponsorship list got any longer, they might have to cancel the entire festival, because we all would’ve still been standing there, listening to the MC pronouncing it one…
until the end of the week. These are, of course, the results of the Festival Manager, Finley Smith's and the Sponsorship Director, Karen McClellan's hard work.

The canapes were great. Or so they said. Because I was fasting. And by the time I broke my fast, all I could get was a bottle of Sprite and a kebab consisted of a shred of paprika, mushroom, and pineapple.


The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, finally graced the festival with his presence. From what I heard, he graciously missed the previous three. When he addressed the audience, somebody in the crowd actually shouted, "Jero!" I knew that ministers always bring (or drag) their own PR posses. But that was the first time I knew there’s a cheerleader as well—-which I think is very cultural. ("Gimme a ‘J’! Gimme an ‘E’! Gimme an... uhh, what’s that letter after ‘Q’?")

And the event peaked with the art performances of Sekala-Niskala, which is the theme of this year’s festival. It literally means The Seen and The Unseen.

Unfortunately, I’d only been able to watch the latter.

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