Sunday, February 19, 2012

B:READ MEET-UP

Last Thursday, I attended the B: Read meet-up at Aulait Café in Kiulap Mall. Although I was a bit hesistant to drop by and check on the people and activities because I'm feeling shy (insert: Thunder! Like me? shy? me?), still, I joined and surprisingly enjoyed the evening.

Since I finished work at around 6, I decided to drop by at the mall to get some DVDs. As I planned, I’ll just put on a movie when I reach home, right after the meet-up. I was expecting that we will finish at an early time. I was wrong.

Read on to know more.

Franz joined me in the meet-up. Actually,it’s Franz second time in the meet-up. Before, he attended the group’s gathering in one café in Kiulap as well.

Despite being a first timer, I didn’t hold back all my questions, thoughts and stories to share in the group. I also brought a book which the attendees are required to bring and present. I brought Yvette Tan’s “Waking the dead and other horror stories.” Yes, I love reading ghost stories. I love getting goosebumps and scaring myself at night.

When Franz and I stepped into the room where the meet-up was set, I felt that we really have to assert our presence for us to enjoy the evening and of course, meet the book lovers.

Soon, Franz and I were given our “name tags.” It served it’s purpose. At least other attendees would know our name.

The people inside started to talk with each other. My first impression, oh yes, they know each other very well. Why not, right? In my mind, they’ve been in the group, probably, for the longest time now.

As I was testing the interaction inside the room, I sip and sip a lot of the drink that I ordered. Eventually, I calmed down and got in the flow. I started to interact with the rest.

Initially, I asked about what B:Read is all about. Then I also asked if what are the activities they’ve been doing for the past years. Interestingly, I found out that B:Read, an organization in Brunei that aims to unite book lovers through various activities such as meet ups and book swaps, has been running for a few years now. Through such interaction, the members have become friends and have been exchanging books. They even go to Seria to meet other book lovers.

A smiled surfaced on my face upon hearing some information about B:Read. I was enlighted and even delighted Brunei has individuals who advocate reading as a habit and passion. Apart from that, I sensed the enthusiam of each person in the room.

I got to know everyone in the meet-up. Thanks to an intimate setting, the exchange of ideas, stories and insights flowed immensely.

I introduced myself with (as expected) with so much energy. I told them that I’m working as advertising writer. And yes, I proudly said that I love reading and writing. Specifically, as they were shocked, that I love reading and writing horror stories and erotic narratives. I know, I know. In a very cosnservative country like Brunei, the word erotic or simply sexy may ellicit judgemental stares and lambasting thumbs down. Surprisingly, the group gave a big but welcoming gesture. That’s the moment when I realized that it’s gonna be a long night.

Since I was very talkative, I threw a lot of questions in the group. I asked about Tea’s passion on writing supernatural stories. I even asked the rest if they love reading or writing love stories. On top of that, I inquired the strengths and limitations of being a writer in Brunei especially on writing and publishing narratives. I also asked on how do they purchase their books and what are their frustrations on their quest on finding a good book. Eventually, the table was packed with insights and overflowing perspectives. And I listened to each and everyone, I started to enjoy the open-mindedness of the members.

An ice breaker occurred. Literally, a glass was accidentally broken. But that didn’t stop the group on sharing experiences on the value of reading and the books that are read.

Each and everyone shared their book. Some shared their sentiments on books they’ve grew up with and inspired them to be writers. Jai talked about her book on Terrible Tudors; Jay on Gaiman’s Neverwhere; Faiq chronicled a book which has a theme on meta-fiction ; Syaza on an intriguing book which her friend asked her to read; and I talked on Yvette Tan’s “Waking the Dead and other Horror Stories.”



This video is shot by Faiq during the meet-up.

The night was housed with insightful sharing of thoughts. In fact, as each and everyone contriibuted their ideas, I felt that I was transported back in my literary writing workshop class.Concepts, from basic to complex, were flying in the air.

You may think that we had a boring meet-up. Stereotypically, common people might think that B:Read is a gathering of the “nerdiest nerds” in the abode of peace. In a more stereotypical thinking, others may think that attendees brought a big book, talked about the book while facing down, and would literally sank in the chair after talking. Surprisingly, the B:Read meet-up was packed with unforgettable and enjoyable moments.

Imagine yourself sitting in a comedy bar while the host talks about funny and odd things. Yes, that’s how I will describe the gathering of B:Read members. We, book lovers, are very creative and imaginative individuals. So if you put us in one room, surely, you'll get a firework of jaw-dropping banters and gestures.

Yours truly was even delighted when I was able to (as expected) naughtily shared my stories from the eerie up to sexy and daring ones. Positively, the people laughed and enjoyed my banters.

As I said, it was an unforgettable evening. Why? Yes, we didn’t only critiqued or talked about books. We also laughed our hearts out with movies and TV series that we felt casually reviewing. The movie “Ombak Rindu” was the highlight. Seriously, I think we consumed 30 minutes on discussing the plot of the story. Meanwhile, a very interesting book which Syaza mentioned topped the discussion as well. I think, to know more, better attend our next B:Read meet up. Surely, just like everyone of us, you’ll go home with an oddly scared and happy heart. But don’t worry,  the “mananananggal” will guide you home (insert evil grin!).

If there’s anything that I enjoyed the most in the B:Read meet up is actually interacting with individuals who value reading. Also, the open-mindedness and the versatility on topics of the members are highly commendable.

Til our next B:Read!

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