Friday, 3 June 2005

Table Food Frangipanis and Flair

Malaysian author to launch cookery book in London - soon!

As I was getting ready to go to a BBQ do yesterday, I received a phone call that transported me right back to days at that big building in Jalan Riong. At the end of the line was Tripat – now Dr Tripat Narayanan – a former colleague at the NST. On my last visit to Malaysia last year, I read that she has written a book, published in Singapore. Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnd now that book – Table Food Frangipanis and Flair – is going to be launched at THE cookery book shop – Books for Cooks- at 4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill Gate on 8th July.

It’ll be really great to see Tripat again. I remember the beautiful and always, always elegant lady in her colourful saris. Not a hair out of place even tho everything around her was like hell let loose. I had just been transfered back from the Penang bureau and was then replacing Nora Marzuki. We were the 'Times Women' working under THE Woman’s Page Editor Leung Thong Ping. Anyway, more about this later, as the very thought of Ms LTP, has been known to make many knees go a wobble, which explains the very bad state of my other half’s knees.

Tripat’s passion has always been food and its not surprising that she has come up with this book, which is already getting rave reviews from what I read at hosted by
Shilpa Ghatalia, YogaShakti
"Perfection in every way. Fantastic presentation and no compromise on taste."
Pat Liew, British India
"Really wonderful food. I have just returned from India and this is like the marvellous homecooked food my friends prepared..."
Sebastien Phillipe Le Francois, Tastevin
"An introduction in New Age Indian food. For me...the revelation was the vegetable kofta...I'm still savoring it."
and more here: review

From the brief conversation we had yesterday, I gather she has notched up quite a bit. With a PhD in Film Studies in Illinois University, she now lectures, still writes, gives talks and does film critics.

Hmmm, yes, those days in that little cubicle in the newspaper office! Tripat must have been the most sane and normal person around. With Foong Peto and Nora (when visiting) around, the place was always full of high pitched laughter and yackitty yack. Was at Nora’s salsa do last year and that one never seems to age either, but I have totally lost contact with Peto.

Yes, people have moved on. I left very shortly after that transfer from Penang. This news about Tripat and her book has once again touched a nerve. She is one of those who breezes through writing very quietly on her own and gets things done. I remember those days, when it was chaos around her, she was quietly writing her pieces in one corner. And I imagine it must have been the same with this book, - a book about Indian food, Malaysian food and takeaways. And I am sure, written with elegance and style, for that is what Tripat is all about.

And here I am still talking and still fussing about that one subject that I want to write about, as if one day, like magic I will wake up and find those words structured and constructed on pages of a book.

What is it with people who ‘breeze’ through writing? They write so effortlessly while I make dozens of visits to the kitchen to top up my caffeine and still come back to the same para? Dato Samad Said, who seems to be writing two or three books at the same time, has always encouraged me to write – and this has been going on for the past 20 years. Everytime we meet, he’d say, “So, when is your book coming out?” I still have not got the answer.

Well, I lied. I have a book out. Just too embarrassed to admit. It was published by Routledge in London – in 1993 or 94 – that long ago that I have even forgotten. From the report and royalties I get every year, I see that its not doing too badly in America and Australia and friends have even reported that they found it in a Harvard library. So,that will do! It is still available in some book shops in London and also through The royalties is enough to sustain the cat food supply for the year. There’s no book launch, no review. And I hide in embarrassment when people asked me whether that’s my book. But its not the kind of book that make tons of money. So, I am willing myself now, very hard indeed, to make myself write THAT kind of book, whose revenue I can depend on to feed more than the cats.

And there are of course some work in other people’s books. But that’s not enough, is it?

Thanks to writer Susan, I met Rani Manika, author of bestseller Rice Mother and Touching Earth. And she too breezes through her books. She said, “Woman, write!” and as we parted that afternoon after tea at Selfridges, we shook hands and I squeezed her hand tight trying to squeeze out some of those energies that produced such bestsellers. And according to the bookaholic, Tash Aw, who is back in Malaysia for the booksigning of his novel "The Harmony Silk Factory", is also doing very well.

And goodness knows how many Sasterawan Negaras have graced our lounge for a bit of Mee Bandung during their visits to London. And in exchange, they have given some words of wisdom on writing. But, here I am still sitting and procrastinating. Its not easy. Not for me, anyway. But my favourite quote "Why do today what you know you can do tomorrow" doesn't sound funny anymore.

Friends come and go – James Ritchie also from the same office has come up with several books, I hear, the late BC Battacharjee too with his book “The Immigrant”. At the moment I have a pact with another writer that we should give each other a regular kick in the you know where when things get a bit sluggish. But then again, she has discipline, writing one to two thousand words a day and from what I see, its coming along nicely. Discipline I have very little. Time I have even less. This blogging is therapeutic (not an excuse). It keeps me sane. But I have to juggle studies and work - I know, all excuses, excuses!

The final blow to me was when I took a friend to accompany me to a publishing house in Malaysia. I was already doing some work for them and have an open invite to write any novel, anytime. And guess what? A year later, a package arrived in the post. This friend had secured a writing contract and had published her first book. You see, some people just get on with it. Some people , like me, just fret.

When I meet Tripat next month at her book launch and book signing event, I am going to make sure that she leaves me some tips. I will be writing more about her book, nearer the date. The books are already available at the bookshop. Will certainly update.


MassyLassy said...

Hope you had a great time at the BBQ and do keep us posted on the Sale of the book around UK! Will definetely get one for myself!

Nazrah Leopolis said...

Great day for a barbey, Me likey!

anedra said...

KakTeh: Be careful, take yr medication.. Masa telefon semalam bukan main teruk bunyi the hay fever, la ni pi BBQ pulak! Have fun anyway!!

Adib Noh said...

Kak Teh,

I am looking forward to attend your book launch in London.

atiza said...

ya lor kak teh..

you should be writting on the sailors..mesti ramai nak beli..

me for one, would.

Ely said...

there you are kak Teh. Thanks for advertising my blog for me :). get well soon!

Kak Teh said...

mas @ intan: yes, great BBQ but it rains so heavily and strong wind too. so BBQ in garage! that is London.
anedra: ya ya ya, i know.
Pak Adib, thanks for the visit. Insyaallah - one day!
Atiza...hmmm one day, one day!
ely, no problem..will do more marketing..hehe!

Atok said...

i pun nak buat cookbook gak lah:
the potong, campak and kacau style of malay cooking.

Sunfloraa said...

Kak teh what was the title of your book? Can I please add one more to your royalty report?

Anonymous said...

Is it Colloquial Malay: A Complete Language Course...? I could be wrong! :P

Kak Teh said...

atok, thats a good title "Potong, campak , kacau!" by atok, simpan satu signed copy untuk kak teh
SF & CK - nampaknya tak payah jawablah.

Anonymous said...

kakteh, can i be the first in the queue for your new book, whenever it may be ready? macam queue masa january sale, bawak sleeping bag tunggu depan kedai. cepat-cepatlah sikit kak teh. takut mata ni nanti tak nampak nak baca :)


Kak Teh said...

klmuk, it'll be a long wait..and in which case, I'll do a braille version!

Blabarella said...

Come on Kak Teh, you CAN do it!! Imagine .. you've already got a long list of faithful readers on your blog who wait with bated breath for your book launch!! Let's set a target - book launch by summer next year - what say you?

Suzan Abrams, email: said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
atenah said...

ala KT, my comment earlier tak kuwar le. i wrote that *a page a day, & the agent wont stay away*.

sure you CAN do it, no doubt at all.

Kak Teh Boleh!

shidah said...

kak teh: if you never try then you'll never know. Yes, write woman!

Kak Teh said...

thanks susan, i thought that u'd like to know abt tripat's visit.
atena - yeap - a page a day! will let u know!
shidah - thanks for encouragement!

Ruby M. said...

kak teh, kitaorang kat sini pun baru berBBQ! we should do it together! hehe.. btw, sure u can write, u write macam air pasang pagi! plus, dont u forget..some of those people on ur list on the right, some of them started writing because of included! so stop moaning! cant wait for ur book. will cheer u on! inshaallah.

MassyLassy said...

Kak Teh! Don't worry! Kita semua will be waiting in anticipation for that book launch! You are a great writes (from an amateur point of view) and I will give/do anything to get your book! Tulis jangan tak tulis!

Cayang you!

Kak Teh said...

nour, thanks for all your messages. Moga-moga segala amal ibadat Nour diterima Allah dan perjalanan pergi dan balik juga dilindungi Allah.
maknenek and mas...TQ TQ for all your faith in I said, Insyaallah...kita tak boleh riak, kan? We have to be humble and modest in whatever we can do. Insyaallah.

Leen AshBurn said...

But, but you look as if you don't need countless trips to kitchen for kopi to blog!

Okay, okay blogs and books are two different things.

Kak Teh said...

leen, this is already my second cup of coffee and its only 0503...i think my book shd be sponsored by nescafe! hehe

Unknown said...

I'll be ordering your book through

Anonymous said...

Well, that could be true.

Anonymous said...

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Many thanks