Sunday, September 23, 2007

21 September 2007: Reunion

Today Chih Pei had a full line up of classes to teach, so I hung out with Elaine, another dancer I met in Bali, and her mother, Ann. They took me by the lovely KL Performing Arts Center (KLPAC), where Elaine and Chih Pei frequently perform. It is a fairly new development of a factory, featuring two theaters, rehearsal studios, a bar, and a prop shop. Kind of reminds me of Redcat in LA.

Then we went to a part of KL called Masjid India, because of both the presence of a number of mosques and of Indian shops and businesses (and also of converted Indian Muslims, called “mamas” in Malaysia). Because it is Ramadan, there were tents set up throughout the neighborhood, like a street fair, selling clothes and head scarves for Muslim women, prayer rugs, etc.

Next we visited the National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan, ASWARA), where my friends Firdaus and Zainal studied and where Chih Pei teaches. I was very happy to run into Firdaus and Zainal in the halls, and to peek in on a few classes, including a classical Malay dance class that Firdaus was teaching.

Later, we headed over to the popular (and posh) Bangsar neighborhood for snacks and tea (did I mention that Malaysians love to eat?). There we also located some durian fruit for me to try. Elaine was the whole reason I wanted to try it in the first place (she raves about it, her husband won’t allow it in the house), and she knew just where to find it even though the season is past. As we got closer to the market, I noticed a horrible smell, like rotting garbage. Turns out it was the durian fruit! At that point, I wasn’t sure I could go through with my tasting, but I put on a brave face. Evidently the smell of durian is so strong that it is banned from hotels and airports here. It also lasts for days on your hands and breath, so luckily the fruit seller had some plastic gloves for us to don. I did manage to eat a small bit, and got a glimpse of a sweetness, but mostly it tasted strong and almost garlic-y. I thought I’d done pretty well, but a picture tells a thousand words.

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