Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2

Another discovery of the year - the brand new Y Resort. The name conjours visions of a YMCA hostel but this is what it looks like. Almost a mini version of YTL Resort in Tembok, Northern Bali. An elegant gem nestled in Penestanan, Ubud with room rates of US$90 a day, it was certainly value for money after viewing older, rather sad-looking establishments on Jalan Raya Singginggan for future reference.

Day 2 of the Festival: When in Bali, embrace the local practices and one tends to throw caution to the wind. Jumped on an Ojek and trundled off to Indus, minus a helmet and hanging on for dear life.

Thrilling downhills, careening around a sharp hairpin bend at the Antonio Blanco Museum...,

... crossing an iffy bridge and having to tuck legs up to prevent getting splashed by recent rain puddles...

...plodding up the vine-lined Jalan Raya Singginggan behind other Ojeks to...

... arrive at Neka Museum for the the session "Why Here, Why Now" with Tariq Ali. A British Pakistani, Oxford University educated journalist (The Guardian) and editor of New Left Review... 

... spoke about his writings from a political analyst point of view to his later works, the celebrated Islam Quintet fiction series: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo and finally Night of the Golden Butterfly which captures a Muslim rebellion in Yunnan, China in the nineteenth century.   

To a packed hall he responded to the moderators' opinionated comments in his laconic style with well-rehearsed ease. He related an incident in Turkey where conservative critics questioned the wisdom of suggesting a lesbian relationship between two of Sultan Saladin's wives/concubines. He replied that from simple  inference it was not entirely impossible that two of the many wives and concubines should find emotional solace between them, as it was supremely probable that Saladin would have been unable to satisfy them by any stretch of the imagination.

By day, the setting was perfect, extremely eco-friendly and calming.

By night, the Gotama street party was not short of adept Indonesian men and sporting tourists glad to take up the challenge to hip-gyrate and finger-flick one- on-one with the curvaceous Balinese dancer to the rhythmic beat of Gamelan  musicians.

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