So, moving on from a series of rather orange photos, we come to some green. Quite a lot of green actually. Bali, or rather Ubud which is where we spent the majority of our brief six days, is so hot and wet that everything is impossibly green. Plants grow out of drains, on top of every roof, peer from gutters, and moss creeps over everything in sight.
I am still sorting and uploading several hundred photos, and anyway I can't say everything I want to say in one blog post so I think I'll take a leaf out of someone else's book and just hurl a few photographs at the blog every now and then and talk at random.
My friend (L) and I left our partners and children behind and nipped over to Bali for a few days. Ostensibly it was to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, but although we're avid readers, spend a fair chunk of our working days writing stuff and started a bookgroup together (now in its fifth year), we're not serious literary groupies by any means. We booked one of the 'special events' (dinner with Booker prize winners Thomas Keneally and Anne Enright), purchased a one day pass to the Festival (Saturday, as it seemed to have most of the events we were interested in), and spent the rest of our days exploring and generally travelling about.
The Writers Festival was excellent. Some of the organisation was a bit vague, some sessions were inevitably more interesting than others, and there were some squirmy moments in confronting the reality of participating in a Western bourgeois intellectual talkfest in the midst of a much more economically (although not spiritually and culturally) poor country. At one point when up on the dais a heated debate was taking place about the reading habits of white middle class Western women and authors' assumptions about them (ouch) and all around us beautiful young Balinese women were smiling serenely and serving drinks to the sweating white folk, I turned to L and muttered God, it feels like a big white wank, what are we doing here?
But on the whole, the sessions were lively and thoughtful, we were introduced to some authors we might never have otherwise come across, and we met some fabulous and interesting people. We will definitely go again, next time for a few days with our families and then we'll happily wave them off at the airport and stay on for a few more days of writers festival, yoga and massage. Oh yeees, the massage.
Off the top of my head, some of the writers there whose work I'd like to follow up (or already enjoy) were the aforementioned two former Booker prize winners, plus Christos Tsiolkas, Louis de Bernieres, Cate Kennedy (low key, down to earth, refreshing), Suad Amiry (must read her three books - she was a hilarious and thought-provoking speaker), Ali Eteraz (note to self, get Children of the Dust pronto), William Darymple (great speaker, must try his books again, my husband is a huge fan, me not so much), Kate Adie (well practised and polished storyteller). Also off the top of my head, Shane Maloney, Sarah Murray, Kirsty Murray, Sophie Cunningham, Frank Moorhouse (looked bored, holds strong views about privileging art over community apparently). Many of the moderators were well known Australian names - Jennifer Byrne (smiles and nods a lot but sure knows how to go with the flow in an interview and not stick strictly to the script), Caroline Baum, and Antony Loewenstein who did a marvellously low key but push-the-tricky-questions interview with Christos Tsiolkas.
All up the festival had an eclectic selection of writers. Some big names to draw the crowds, a large Australian contingent (due to its proximity to Australia and sponsors including Australian companies and governmental support), and a good smattering of British, Indonesian, American, Israeli, Palestinian, Pakistani, other Asian and local Balinese writers and poets.
Uh oh, children and real life demanding attention. More later. Temples, rice paddies, moss, food, temples, tourism, privilege, heat, temples.