Family Gathering

Posted on September 24, 2013

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Little india

We have been here for just over two jam-packed weeks now and are starting to wonder how we will possibly manage to keep updating you, without over loading your blog reading quota!

So today we will just tell the story of the Family Gathering.

Friday before last, we were invited to see In A Space Of Time by DPAC Dance Company choreographed by Malaysian, JS Wong formerly of Cloud Gate. The show was strangely connected with us on several levels. The work looked at time, past, present and future, played with risk for both performer and audience, and even made use of some beautiful white stones (for those of you who know Red Right Hand by Claire Dyson). In addition to this, we had both previously met JS Wong in Canberra through Mirramu Creative Arts Centre. The lighting and soundscape were equally impressive and after the show we met and chatted with the composer Ng Chor Guan, who is very well known in Malaysia, and who also runs Toccata Studio, a hub for arts.  He is a really nice guy and extremely talented. We hope to get to know him better during our time here.

Saturday night we went to a Bharatanatyam Arangetram (a traditional Indian dance solo debut after seven years of full-time training) at the Temple of Fine Arts. The debutant is Khairi Mokthar, now graduating from the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA). The show, almost three hours long, was a beautiful and impressive solo performance with live musicians. Khairi’s performance, his precision and his grace were quite mesmerising. At the conclusion of the performance there were some graduation speeches and presentations. Only one in 50 students make it to the completion of their Arangetram. We were overwhelmed and humbled by the love and respect given to Khairi upon his graduation.

As this show was in KL we decided to stay in the city for the weekend (this is where the family part comes in). On Sunday we got an invitation to attend a Taff family lunch. Meaning that for the first time since he was two, Gabe and his biological father Shafeek would meet. Not to mention twenty or so Aunts, Uncles, cousins and other family members. The initial meeting was fairly overwhelming, and hugely emotional for everyone, especially Gabe and Shafeek. But we were welcomed with open arms and treated incredibly well. We spent the day with some of the family and got to know about their heritage, home and way of life. We also had the pleasure of meeting ‘Grandma’, Shafeek’s mother, who is in her 80s and loosing her sight. She told us that she has been looking at a picture of Gabe thinking, “when will this boy come to visit me?” She insisted that it was lucky that we came to see her when we did because otherwise she would not be able to see Gabe’s face at all! We were treated to both lunch and dinner at two different restaurants owned by the Gabe’s Aunt and Uncle called Serai – if you are in KL we seriously recommend it!

This incredible weekend was made complete with an exploration of KL on Monday. We had our feet cleaned by tickling fish at Central Markets, walked to the Bird Park at the Botanical Gardens and finished at the Malaysia day festival. The festival was complete with Malaysian food stalls, advocate groups for: women’s rights, animal welfare, gay/lesbian and gender equality, great coffee, Chinese dragon dancers, traditional dances from Sabah, and a stall selling art, jewellery and instruments made by the Orang Asli and much, much more.

Life changing experiences… tick!

Cultural immersion… tick!

And only two weeks in!

Since then we have had a week of art exposure and performance – tell you about it soon.

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