Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Noda Hideki and my need to be still

It's been awhile since I have attended any acting workshops...and like any car, the actor in me needed a tune up...I think I am a thousand miles away from being a great actor but honestly, this is a craft I love and something I so hope to excel in. Because acting teaches you so much about yourself, life, your surroundings and people. So when Noda Hideki(who is regarded by Yukio Ninagawa as the most talented playwright in contemporary Japan) was in town to give a 2 day acting workshop under the auspices of the Japan Foundation and ASWARA. I jumped at the chance.

I asked Noda Hideki early on in the workshop what is his best advice to any actor and he said "enjoy it and play" and that really summed up what we were going to do in the next two days.
The following are three of the games we played.
A body movement exercise where one partner becomes a seaweed while another partner gives him a push her and there that the seaweed must react to and move.

We were all given a situation to react to and we must do it in slow motion. We do it in a group. It really trains your focus as you then to break out of your focus and slow motion especially when trying to react to a movement by a fellow actor.

This is an exercise where the entire group walks and stop at hideki command. And then without any verbal or physical communication one person in the group at random start walking.When he stops, two start walking. Thereafter three and then four; then three again, two and one. Whenever there is more or less people walking that the intended number of the session, the exercise starts all over again. This exercise is to give us an understanding that as actors on stage we work as a group and we must strive to function as one sensing our surrounding and be aware of the collective whole.Our group being a very young and noisy group took one an a half hour to successfully finish this exercise.And even then, I think it's more by luck than actual awareness from a deep focus...

So running, jumping,rolling and all what did I learn? Personally the most important thing I got from the entire workshop was stillness. How important it is to have a self awareness of yourself and your surroundings and focus even when still and that stillness is a part of life. Expression as in the willingness to express with energy is never my problem but I really feel that stillness is. I am always the eager puppy always wanting to hurry along and rush things...someone will attest to that.

As told to me by Micheal Voon once, the performers of Japan evovled the usage of slow motion in their performance because it was the only was to address the terror, destruction, devastation that was the Nagasaki bombing.

In Hideki words...if you can walk in slow motion with total focus, you can do anything. I kind of understand and agree but I am no way close yet. I hope in time I will master that stillness and I think in a modern hurried life...we can all afford to be a little bit more still.

Thanks to all my friends at the workshop old and new, who peppered the weekend with so many laughs and smiles, ASWARA for organising and the japan foundation for bringing in Noda Hideki.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tolong berdiri belakang...dia mungkin gigit

One very very big privilege that dog owners have is that no matter how bad the world treat them or how shaken they are, they have their dogs. I was not that shaken, more a feeling of regress after what recently transpired in my relationship(that I have since gave up) and you know the feeling. Even though you are the one walking out there's is a deep yearning to stay because you that's what a relationship do...build a bond between two persons that ideally strengthens with time and less ideally break. So yeah, you get the picture.

So yeah, I popped footstool in my car, and a praise and worship CD into the player and went driving aimlessly singing..."I adore you...you're everything to me...you're all I long for, all I ever need and Lord I'm hungry for you...my savior, forever...i adore you..." Yes...it was a 'jiwang' moment I admittedly say but beautifully 'jiwang'.

Singing...while patting my dog at intervals at traffic lights healed me well and I was driving home already at about 2 am when there was a police roadblock...this being footstool's first roadblock, he actually looked quite confused as to who are these people stopping us on our journey and impolitely shining bright lights into the car right into our eyes and speaking in a tone of voice just slightly short of rude. I on the other hand was in mischievous mode thinking what I was going to say...I was planning on saying..."aku ada minta their guna tali pinggang tetapi their tidak mahu" and pointing at footstool.

The police at this point look bemused there was a dog and knocked at my window...gesturing for me to put it down.I said through the glass that my window has malfunctioned and doesn't open.
He knocked it again and said "turun kereta..."

I knocked back and said..."boleh bang tetapi you berdiri belakang sikit...dia(pointing at the most docile dog in the world) kadang kala boleh menjadi ganas dan gigit."

Police face change in tone from that regular 'pissed off I am a policeman with power over you haha look' to one apprehensive about what he just asked me to do...

He gestured for me to drive on saying jalan-jalan...

Footstool just looked confused....

anyway...the Lord's been great and lets just say since the incident...there were some inkling of colours in my life already and I smile thinking about it now..."I adore you...you're everything to me..."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Endau Rompin Part 2 - Buaya Sangkut

Buaya Sangkut is the main attraction of Endau Rompin National Park. It's quite a something to behold in it's sheer height and vastness. Just being there and hearing the roaring water pass by, you feel that you are in the grasp of mother nature and that you are home...

In terms of numbers this waterfall is 30 meters wide and drops 17 000 gallon of water per second from a height of 120 meters. This is an aerial shot of the waterfall sourced from the net.

The three red dots on this picture denotes the points in which the following photographs were taken...

All waterfalls comes with interesting rockface by which to explore. I also suggest jamming yourself on a rock and let the rushing water thread your muscles giving you a good massage. Buaya Sangkut is offers all these but due to the sheer size of the waterfall, there is a need to remain in constant guard as not to be swept by strong currents that can tear you to bits with the sharp rocks or suck you down and drown you..

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Endao Rompin part 1 - the Jungle

I love the forest and jungles

For the last four days, I spent every living breathing moment surrounded by bloodsucking leeches, rain, no electricity and small meals of tuna sandwishes, maggi mee and chocolate...and yet I can tell you I am smiling from ear to ear...why?

Let me get more elaborate...

The team got together at 3am...in taman tun where we exchanged plesantries...before we boarded a bus...and had a journey of almost 9 hour to johor (the bus took a wrong road and we had a detour of four hours but it's okays as the company was great and the bus was very comfortable with an allocation of two seat to a person) .

Upon reaching Johor, we had to take another 2hour bumpy mud road ride on a Pajero to the PETA orang asli village where we wait to be transfered by boat to the interior. It was a 45 minute boatride upriver.
And if that is not deep enough...we went in another 2 hours on foot through wet and drain terrain, uphill and downhill. The wet get especially annoying when you are with shoes that will fill with water and become uncomfortable. We all also carried heavy loads of between 15- 23kgs each.

Upon reaching our destination we checked into a no star hotel where we had to set up ourselves like this...

At night, I only had absolutely no electricity so I filled my journals with a torchlight...

so why am I smiling?

am I demented?

well...it was really really great to be exactly 5 hour bus, 2 hour pajero, 45 mins boat and 2 hour hike...away from it all...and just be at peace....and to have sunrise like this...

swim in emerald coloured fish filled rivers like thisand run through an obstacle course of trees, wood and mud in the rain with an umbrella that gets you all drenched wet but is still damn fun like this

and explore fantastic waterfall terrain like this

So was I the only demented one happy? I don't think so...need I say more?

Today as we got out of the jungle...my brother's phone rang...the first time in four days...he picked it up and said...yes, I am back to reality...but then he quickly corrected himself...wait...I am back from reality...the last four days was real...what we have in the city is crazy...

I am so thankful to all my fellow trail trackers ...and to the Lord my God for bringing me there and I truly pray you all will one day be able to find time (I went over the two days weekend and monday's holiday plus an extra leave of work tuesday), find the money(the entire trip cost a mere RM 400), erradicate whatever excuses (there'll always be excuses) and really just go and find nature and reality again...

I am really sick and tired or presuading some of you that there are greater joys in life than making money, cigarettes, beers or the haphazard lights of the city...remember friend...we all came from the jungles...

I can't wait to taste the sweet fragrances of the jungle and drink sweet waterfall water again or bask in the glorious light of the morning sun!

Trail Trekkers...feel free to leave your experiences the last four days here... Hoo Haa!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

i wanna run from a tiger

Going to ENDAO ROMPIN for four days...my lucky unlucky t-shirt ready...here i come...hope I get to run from a tiger!!!!

Monday, March 02, 2009

It was a cold...we arrived at night so I didn't see anything upon my arrival.Stepping out of my hotel room in the morning and taking a short walk out...I was blown away....you just hold your breath and say...am I really here?

I went to the Grand Canyon in August 2008 with my travel partner zhiling...we flew into Vegas, rented a car, took a one hour drive down to border city(where you see the Hoover Dam) and take another four hour drive to the South Rim. Please take note of the turning you are making because one wrong turn at a road fork will add quite a detour to the journey as the interstate signage are pretty far apart.

Walking along the grand canyon upper north rim is itself really a joy. Walking on the pebbled foot path, the serenity calms you, the cold gives you a slight chill outside, something that leaves the loving glow of the morning sun warming you in the deepest realm of your heart something most beautifully felt.You just want to squint your eyes, stretch your arms and just feel the place. Along your walk there are many souvenir shops. Artistically done and enclosed in wood cabins, these shops are like small museums to the observer or a little place to stock up with precious gifts for friends and family...

There are no fences except a short rock pile that mark the path's edge. A warning signs is all that stand between you and sitting on a limb like this.

And I didn't just sit there to cam whoar. It was genuinely something you have to try. At least a 10 storey fall if I were to slip and with no harness whatsoever you feel a tremble of fear that also strangely make you feel so free and so alive. everytime the wind takes a slight breath I get dizzy all over as fear rush through me....

But nothing was to prepare me for my upcoming mule ride down to plateau point where I was to look down to the Colorado river below. It started with a long brief by the master mule rider. He starts off by saying "This is not a pony ride at Disneyland." He then explains we are riding a mule and not a well bred horse so

1)a good whipping is necessary to ensure he doesn't fall asleep on the job and fall off the mountain bringing you with it..

2)Ensure the mule stays close together or he might suddenly become afraid and jump off.

3)Ensure you pull his head up and keep it that way or he may try to reach out for a leaf and fall off the mountain.

4) If anyone wants to quit please quit now because the trail is narrow and difficult to turn a mule...

And if you think the master mule rider was trying to make it needlessly dramatic, he's not. When it started, the mule ride was one of the biggest adrenaline rush I had in years...greater than when I rode the Kingda Ka, the highest fastest roller coaster in the world in new jersey. Don't believe me...see the video...whereas a roller coaster travel on a fixed rail and is only subject to mechanical failure, a mule can easily make a mistake and slip off the mountain. Where as the KingdaKa is over in 7 seconds a mule ride is three hours. Why is the mule ride so scary? Well...it is walking on a rather narrow path very very close to an edge that drops give or take 20 storeys...maybe more? Don't believe me? Watch the video here.

Crazy? Hahaha. I was freaking trembling for the first 3 minutes. But then you just go hell...I am already on and enjoy the ride...and what a ride it was. Along the journey, we have to drink alot of water and literally be be hosed down to our underwear at checkpoints because of the heat...I was reluctant to be wet as it feels terrible to be in soaked clothing but amazingly, as promised by my guide it went completely dry in fifteen minutes!

Upon reaching our destination...I really enjoyed riding and grew attached to my mule...it was a good mule. There are four ways to see the canyon. On foot, by mule, by boat(along the colorado river) or by helicopter. I chose the mule and think I made a good choice as the mule is the most immersive of the three. It is the same ride that President Franklin Roosevelt took many many years ago and it profoundly changed and affected him so much he proposed a National Service Act that became the basis of establishing many National Parks in the United States.

For me...it was...really beyond words....I think it will profoundly affect you too... so do mark it in your places to go...



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Living Life to the full...I hope to live by the principle that success doesn't mean making a tonne of money though I am blessed that i do make a decent sum...but success equates to appreciateing all the God given wonder this world has to offer before my time is up...