PanSuriya Art Post

Memoir of Loss and Recovery
21 June 2012, 14:11
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Travel in Myanmar is full of adventure, humour, frustration and amazement, and Judyth Gregory-Smith, the least self-aggrandising travel writer I have ever read, conveys all this in her new book, Myanmar: A Memoir of Loss and Recovery. The book is a well-observed account of places and people and her deeper involvement over the course of several years of visits. This is a great book to give to people who enjoy reading about scenes and life in Myanmar in these years, whether they have been here or not, and (aside from its sobering prologue) a highly amusing and deftly written book which freshens our sense of why we love this country so much, even now during the crashing monsoon and heavy weather.

The author will read from the book and answer questions at Pansodan  Art Gallery, Tuesday 26 June 2012, at 3:00. Myanmar: A Memoir of Loss and Recovery is available online, has a facebook page with the photographs in colour, and will later be available in quantity on the shelves. For now, we have just the irrepressible writer reading from her work, and talking about her projects.

art and ideas 16 august: two authors reading
4 August 2009, 02:21
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The next Art and Ideas evening will start at 5pm on Sunday, 16 August. There will be two authors speaking and reading from their work, Mo Tejani and Judyth Gregory–Smith.

Along with an evening with two very funny, very friendly writers, you can enjoy my newest bright blue herbal tea.

Judyth Gregory–Smith A trishaw called Kinny: journeys in Myanmar (Now retitled Myanmar: A Memoir Of Loss And Recovery, click to order)

Ms Gregory–Smith is a veteran travel journalist with numerous publications in international periodicals, and two books on Sulawesi — Sulawesi: Ujung Pandang to Kendari and Southeast Sulawesi – Islands of Surprises.

‘A Trishaw called Kinny: Journeys in Myanmar’ is an intimate, detailed travelogue packed with first-hand information. One theme of the book is royal cities. She explores and tells about their fascinating histories: numerous royal wives, abundant royal children and the massacre by each new king of his relatives to thwart any pretenders to the throne.

Her sharp observations and wit are put to good use in modern Myanmar, so different from its neighbours.

When she was planning a trip to Myanmar, she had tried to buy such a book to supplement the guide-books, but there were no travelogues later than the beginning of the 20th century. The books she could find were mainly on the political situation. Perhaps as a result, she the trip ended up being rich in unintended adventure travel experience. And soon there will be such a book.

Quote from ‘A Trishaw called Kinny: Journeys in Myanmar’

Richard and I first visited Myanmar, then called Burma, in 1987. Our passions were travel, nature, birds, other cultures and each other. The list is not in order. We were on leave from the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea.
“Wouldn’t it be good to see what my opposite number is doing in the Embassy in Burma?’ he’d said, which in Richard-speak really meant ‘Wouldn’t it be good to traipse through jungles and swamps to study Burma’s rainforest birds and animals.’

Richard’s opposite number in Burma was on my side. He arranged civilized visits to the Strand, the Shwedagon, Pegu, Pagan and Mandalay. No swamps. The powers-that-were permitted a visa for only two-weeks, but that was enough to fall in love with the country.

We vowed to return. And I did. Alone. Richard died in 2001. Had it not been for my daughter, I might not have returned. Fiona and her partner Patrick work for the International Committee of the Red Cross and were posted there. To spend time with them and my grandchildren, I would return to Myanmar.

This book – a geographical, historical and personal journey – also charts my own journey of recovery and self-discovery after the death of Richard. I travel alone throughout Myanmar visiting not only the well-known pagodas and monasteries, but also isolated villages, farming communities and schools. I use public transport, stay at family-run guesthouses and meet with the local people who are rich in culture, but poor in material possessions.

Mo Tejani A Chameleon’s Tale: true stories of a global refugee

Mohezin (“Mo”) Tejani—an Indian Shia Muslim by

a chameleon's tale

a chameleon\’s tale, design by Doug Morton, 72 Studio

ancestry—was expelled from Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1972. Torn apart from his family and exiled from the continent of his birth, he was suddenly left homeless, with little sense of his own cultural identity. As a refugee, he first fled to England and then to America in the early seventies. Fluent in eight languages, he has spent twenty years working in refugee camps in Asia, training rural farmers in Central America, educating First Nation tribes in Canada, and coordinating poverty reduction projects in Africa.

Over the last five years, Mo has returned to his childhood passion–writing. The first volume of his memoirs, “A Chameleon’s Tale: True Stories of a Global Refugee” is a reflection of his life of travel and the continued search for a place he can call home. As one reviewer noted, Tejani is “a cross-cultural Jack Kerouac”

Mo currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand and writes feature articles, poetry, and essays for various magazines worldwide. A Chameleon’s Tale was chosen as a finalist for a PEN Book Award in 2007. In 2004, his “stalking interview” in Bangkok with Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul appeared in Untamed Travel Magazine, distributed all over Southeast Asia. The second volume of his travel memoirs, Global Crossroads, due for publication in 2010, focuses on the psychological alienation of exile and ultimately the liberation from his own cultural chains.

Quote from A Chameleon’s Tale

Children were everywhere in the streets of Vietnam…. On the sandy beach, a grouop of five cornered me: two boys with Chiclets and imported cigarettes, adn three girls with fresh pineapples, oranges, and dragon fruit, all in season…. On a whim, I decided to try an experiment with [the] gang of entrepreneurs.

“If I promise to buy two things from each of you, you must agree to play on the beach for the next two hours. Okay?”

They all looked at mu suspiciously at first. The questions were endless. What was I up to? How could they be sure I would keep my promise at the end of the two hours? What if their mothers caught them playing on the beach and not selling their quota for the day? They must leave before five o’clock for Hoi An City Hall to sell to the workers on their way home.

Once assured that I was sincere in my offer, they had a private meeting among themselves. When they came back, Tranh mad eme specify the two things I would buy from each of them, the price I would pay for each item, and when the playing time would be over. Finally, after twenty minutes, we concluded our negotiations.

Twenty minutes. Smiles all around. Back in 1973, it took Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho twenty days — while the killing continued on both sides — to agree on which directions the tables they sat at would face during the peace treaty in Paris. Later that year, both men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the war. Kissinger accepted the award; Le Duc Tho did not.

Read reviews of the book in the Chiang Mai Mail here, and in Book Review Journal here.

About the event

As always, a portion of the sales from the event will be donated to local organisation Cultural Canvas, which provides art experiences for disadvantaged children in and around Chiang Mai.

Location: click me for google map

Find Suriya Gallery in the western part of Chiang Mai, Thailand near Chiang Mai University, on Huay Kaew Road. It is at No. 2, Hotel Bua Luang, Soi Bua Luang (the same soi as Holiday Garden), off Huay Kaew Road. Look for the spray-paint Suriya Art Gallery sign before you get to the hotel gate, or park in the Nice Nails/Mr Chan and Miss Pauline’s Pizza parking lot at the mouth of the soi, and walk through the gate, keeping to the left, to No. 2.