It’s the Write Stuff, Say Ubudians of Scribes’ Fiesta
By Novar Caine
The Bali Times
The annual writers’ festival in Bali’s cultural heartland is an added windfall to the thriving town and for local residents adds even more international zest to this global crossroads.
This week I embarked on a personal expedition to the hill town to find out what locals — not expatriates or foreign tourists — think of one of Bali’s top international events, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, being held for the seventh time from October 6-10 this year.
More than 100 venerated writers from around the world are invited to this year’s event, which as usual will kick off with an official opening bash at Ubud Palace in the centre of the municipality. Local officials will speak; Balinese dancers will entrance; and chosen ones can munch on spicy delicacies and imbibe wine as they take in the spectacle. It’s quite a sight.
The annual hommage was set up by an Ubud restaurateur after the first Bali bombings in 2002, with the commendable aim of showing the world that there still was good on the island. They say there’s nothing as light as a nightie; and there’s plenty of luminescence in this borough – and this year the wattage is set to amplify with the addition of a title sponsor, Citibank. We all know banks know a sure bet when they see one INSERT WINK SMILEY.
Topping the list this year is Louis de Bernières, the British subject who penned the bestselling tome Captain Corelli’s Mandolin that was made into a film. He’s just been poring his broken heart out to The Times of London about his divorce, saying he contemplated suicide after the split and pines for his child. Poor lad.
There’ll be no splitting teeth in accommodating Ubud, however, and De Bernières will be in the company of the jolly Balinese who love this yearly pageant of literature — and possibly a new king or queen will emerge from the throng.
Here’s a taste of the kind of welcome the globe-trotting scribes are likely to get:
For Wayan, 29, a local businessman, the festival is a carnival atmosphere not to be missed. “It brings the people of the world together to discuss great literature. It’s great,” he told me.
Ketut Budi Irawan, 33, a shopkeeper, agreed: “I like it. I think it’s a good idea and preserves some of the cultures that there are in the world.”
Labourer Komang Astawa, 23, said it’s fun. “It brings together all the tourists and guests coming to Ubud and it’s good entertainment.”
A trader at Ubud Market, just across the street from the palace, Ida Ayu Artini, 39, said: “Ubud is a tourist destination, and it’s great to have such positive activities as the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.”
Driver Putu Musteja, 34, suggested the event might up its profile. “It’s good for tourism, but a lot of local people don’t know about it.” And for 29-year-old waitress Ariyantini the festival helps local businesses. “I think it’s good to develop our economy. It’s all about positive thinking,” she said.
Waiter I Wayan Eka Swarsa, 26, concurred: “It’s good because guests will come to Bali and Ubud’s name will be popular.”
There you have it. Everyone loves a good festival, and if rice is the spice of life, you’re sure to get plenty of fragrance at this year’s Ubud confluence.Filed under: LIFE