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Rico’s Blog : UWRF 2009, Day 1

8 October 2009

The literary buffet is open… queue up!

Wednesday is “the light day” at the Festival — “light,” of course, being a relative word. I unfortunately, spent the first half of my day dealing with hotels. Had to sort out a move from one to another and deal with all the various mundane tasks that go with that exercise. By the time I got it all sorted, I was late for the Opening Press Conference.

The Press Conference was not terribly well attended, which was quite a shame given the quality of the panel present. Wole Soyinka, Hari Kunzru, to name but two of those on hand. (Are mainstream journos too intimidated by literary titans to show up and cover them, I find myself wondering… ) The conversation centered on the genesis and ongoing motivation for the Festival. Wole’s comments focused on the necessity for positive efforts to counter the negative events that sometimes seem so pervasive. One of the most striking elements about him being his rejection of cynicism — his commitment to try to make a difference, regardless of likelihood of success. It’s refreshing to see that the man embodies the principles he proclaims.

balinese dancerPost-Press Conference I hopped on my toy moto and raced across town to change into something suitable for the Gala Opening. (The road construction that currently completely blocks the main road of Ubud is a major pain in the butt!) I made it back just in time for the Opening, which was held at the Ubud Palace (see photo). The venue is spectacular, as is typical of Bali’s larger palaces and temples. Atmospheric is an understatement. The very stones seem imbued with the ether of a parallel world.

The Gala Opening was largely what one would expect: a bit of entertainment, a fair number of speeches by various esteemed personages, some more entertainment and a formal “This Festival is Official Open.” Took a few photos — they are up on the Facebook page.

After, I grabbed a cold Bintang, then headed over to Pura Dalem for the Tribute to WS Rendra. The place was absolutely packed. I was pleasantly surprised to see this level of support for someone that I assumed was not widely known. The tribute was heartfelt and a rich, warm experience. I think in hindsight we will look back on it as one of the Festival highlights.

Grabbed a bit of nosh before heading back to the hotel to write it all up — only to find no Internet connection. Welcome to Bali…

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