I don’t remember the last time somebody made me a mix tape or CD. Or even the last time I made one. But on our second last UnRepresented KL session, Shari gave some of us copies of this mixtape and I was floored. It was sweet, thoughtful and incredible to think that 8 weeks ago, I didn’t even know her.
If you’ve been following my UnRepresented KL posts then I apologise because I have not been updating. Week 6 and 8 went by so quickly and for a good reason. Unlike the previous weeks where we stepped in other people’s shoes and discovered KL from their perspective, these past two weeks have been about us and our writing. So, I have been busy writing the final product of my UnRepresented KL experience. Yes, we are now in the final days of the writing programme and we are refining our work. Bernice Chauly, a very respected individual in the local writing scene had been invited for these past two sessions and gave us some really tough love. She does not mince her words, I’ll give you that.
There will be a reading scheduled in June so no pressure! No pressure, at all.
When I think about it, my blog posts about UnRepresented KL have been quite ethnographic in nature. In the first few posts I did for this programme, I hardly mentioned any of the individuals personally unless they did something of note in that week. I tried to capture a very vivid but objective point of view of my experience so that others can have a taste of that as well. However, it’s difficult to be unattached to these people because they are so awesome. When they found out about my blog, Vimal, Shari and Al discussed among themselves whether they should stop reading it so my blogging won’t be influenced by their presence. I was touched: we hardly knew each other and yet they’re ensuring a space for me that is comfortable. I’ve never met any acquaintances who would be as warm and accepting.
The later blog posts about UnRepresented KL started to lose the objective edge but had more of my personal thoughts and emotions. After all, my experience is uniquely mine and I am sure others would have their own personalised perspective of their experience. In fact, some of the more memorable moments of the programme were beyond what was tailored for us: when Adriana and Veronica brought us to a mamak restaurant for lunch, when a group of us went to the Arts 4 Grabs event at Central Market and even just the long chats we had after the session was long over. Our objective was to learn and document parts of KL but, in doing so, we are all creating our own memories of KL shaped by this experience.
There is already talk of the second instalment of this programme, planned for the month of August. Hearing the organisers discuss the future of UnRepresented KL, without us, made me feel sad. For one thing, I just don’t want this programme to end! Secondly, I am jealous of this new batch of strangers who get to experience a new round of this programme. Thirdly, UnRepresented KL feels very much like our own label to describe our group but soon, we will have to pass it on to the new participants. Lastly, we will lose the group; we exit the programme as friends but also, as individuals. I felt like asking whether we could just sneak into one of the sessions. Alumni perks and all.
If you’re reading this and thinking of joining the next instalment of this programme, I can’t recommend it enough. Adriana and Veronica are great people and I really have to thank them for allowing me to be in this programme. Highly motivated but incredibly humble, these two made us feel welcomed and our opinions respected every single time.
I am really going to miss these people. However, I have to keep my head straight and start cracking down on the writing because I am nowhere near done.