In the best possible way, Kuala Lumpur is quirky. It is stores like "Goo Goo Wonderland" (in English: Party Depot) and dishes that bear the title of "supreme," and candy shops called "Chocolate Kingdom." It is open-air markets with smells wafting and stinging the nose, and residents whose direction-giving abilities rival only the Romans. It is flashy shopping malls with more designer shops than Fifth Avenue, and then a million knockoff stands fifty yards around the corner. Most important, though, it is corporations whose taglines claim the effort of companies rather than the quality of them: the Pavilion Mall calls itself "The second-best mall in Southeast Asia;" a coffee shop brags that it is "striving" to make the best coffee in KL; even Kuala Lumpur itself claims to be "on its way" to becoming Asia's most important city.
A woman getting street food in Kuala Lumpur
We are surrounded by storefronts, shopping malls, restaurants that boast not what they are but what they hope to become, advertising their aspirations just below their names. We are surrounded by en-route-ness, by not-yet-ness, by still-trying-but-fear-not-it-will-happen ambition. Yes, KL is plenty quirky, but its refusal to nonchalantly accept complacency is contagious. As a fellow Fulbrighter reminded me, "This city is still a baby." It is growing. And we have found ourselves in the middle of its becoming, building, bettering glory.
The Petronas Twin Towers
Could anyplace be more appropriate for us newly-arrived Fulbrighters? We, too, all seventy-five of us, are working to realize lofty (but entirely possible!) aspirations. We are teachers, advocates, writers, scientists, researchers, learners. We, too, are becoming, building, and bettering; not focusing outward and posting it on billboards as is KL, but working just as adeptly on an internal level, a level that can only be understood personally. We have been in Kuala Lumpur for two days, long enough to achieve jet-lag and a vague familiarity with the city. Our Fulbright grants are now beginning. I can't wait to see what these next ten months of teaching and learning, of building, becoming, bettering Kuala-Lumpur-style, will bring.
I was apprehensive about seeing Evita this past Friday. I had heard a lot of gripes about the production, and about the lead actress's, Elena Roger's, voice. Roger definitely had an Edith Piaf quality, so much that I was yearning for "La Vie en Rose" by the time "Don't Cry for Me" rolled around. I have an even bigger gripe than her voice quality, though, and that is the very strange accent in which she sang. For most of the show, she sounded French to me, and, at some points, her husband sounded Scottish! My friend and I were humming "Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?" to each other during interludes; those actors did NOT sound like they were in Argentina. My friend, Greg, made a good point about this singing-in-accent ordeal when he noted that Shakesperian productions, though often set in Italy, are written and performed in English not Italian. Isn't that the beauty of them? Thank God Shakespeare wasn't trying to throw in Italian catchphrases or, worse, having Romeo flip his R's. I'm not sure why this director thought otherwise, especially since Roger is Argentinian, and her debut role was as Evita Peron (!!!) in earlier production.
Image c/o googleimages.com
As far as other gripes go, there was a major lack of narrative. They were highlighting moments of Evita's life rather than giving a fluid story, which was confusing (to the point where I thought she was a promiscuous person, not a paid prostitute, for a good portion of the show). Also, I was not at all impressed with Ricky Martin, although Greg was raving about his performance. And, about singing everything, I'm not a huge fan of that, either. Apparently, Evita is marketed as a "rock-musical" (bad bad bad bad idea), which puts the show in the tradition of Rent, Spring Awakening, and Next to Normal. Audiences who are not comprised entirely of angsty, fifteen-year-old girls will probably find the style of all of these shows to be really terrible, as they should.
Image c/o googleimages.com
Now that I've complained extensively about the show, I guess I should admit that I didn't hate it. In the end, I walked away with an absolute fascination with Eva Peron, who I knew nothing about prior. I've already read her entire Wikipedia page and will probably take out a few books on her life because I'm confused, and intrigued, and amazed. And I think that's exactly what the show was trying to do.
Inappropriate, politically incorrect, and downright offensive, they Key of Awesome's One Direction parody is intended to raise laughs-- and questions. In an in-your-face way, the Key of Awesome encourages us to ask questions such as: Why do the boys of One Direction wear full-length pants while standing in an ocean? Why do all pop songs involve a na-na-na riff??? Which One Direction member is really Justin Timberlake???
Still, I have a question that KoA definitely didn't see coming. That is, why is their parody featured on Time Out: Kuala Lumpur's blog when it has NOTHING to do with Malaysia????? Don't get me wrong-- I'm happy to have laughed my tush off for the past five minutes (even if I am feeling slightly guilty about it now...). But I came to Borak Borak to learn about Malaysia, after all!