Back in the world of hot water, daytime power, frogs, traffic, pineapple, tree ferns and soy lattes. The gentle chorus of nature is replaced by an assaulting symphony of motorbikes, roosters, gongs and whistles; the midnight ablutions of the neighbour in my left ear and electric planers at dawn in my right. The incessant buzz of humans existing in the urban environment. You may have guessed by now I am not staying at the Four Seasons. Earplugs ease the transition into sleep, although a rat chewing on my hair at 3am brings a swift end that dreams. I knew my hair was dry and well overdue for a haircut, but when it became attractive nest building material I was straight to the salon for a $4 trim, and tucked the mozzie net in with greater diligence. In revenge, my rodent friend has snuck off with two of my g-strings to furnish his (or her) home.
I am in Ubud with a host of other wordsmiths and bookish types for the 8th annual Writers & Readers Festival. I have been so caught up rediscovering busyness that I haven’t had time to punch the keys. I even had a schedule, a reason to keep time beyond sunrise, sunset and the movement of the tide. How do you lot out there keep this pace up everyday? This is my second festival as a volunteer and first as an official photographer, a role I have relished, although the speed of the media turnaround is far greater than my usual meanderings – you mean you want it today? My adrenals are wondering what is the emergency? Late nights, too much coffee, deadlines, nerves and excitement. This koala is way out on a coconut frond with blood shot eyes and a reignited caffeine addiction.
If you will allow my ego a little screen time, I must share the highlights of my week. Lunch at the Maya with Alexander McCall Smith and Jennifer Byrne, staying up way past bedtime with Paul Kelly and Lucky Oceans, lounging with actor Steve Bisley, and laughing over coffee with Irish poet and manager of the Four Seasons, John O’Sullivan. I learnt how to get inside an editors inbox with Australian journalist Benjamin Law and the theories behind multiple female orgasm with Kiwi celebrity chef, author and tv presenter Peta Mathias. It is testament to the length and breadth of these people’s careers that I have even heard of them, having missed large chunks of the past ten years music, tv and movie scene.
Now that the festival is over for 2011 and the writers and readers take flight across the globe, I’m heading south to meet up with Aquaman for our visa run to Singapore tomorrow. I hope you enjoy the posts to come from my time at the festival and I urge anyone interested in words to attend next October. The literature world weaves a wide cloth, and volunteering is a fantastic way to get beneath its warmth.