Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tropical Affairs: Beyond Rangoon

Joelle St-Arnoult  and Robert Rayme as tacky tourists.  Compare this to our costume in Indochine.

After seeing me in Beyond Rangoon, my brother disowned me because of the tacky tourist clothes I wore, which I wrote about in “Beyond Rangoon Part 1” and “Tacky Tourist Clothes” in Tropical Affairs. Directed by John Boorman, the film is about an American doctor named Laura (portrayed by Patricia Arquette) who travels to Asia with her sister Andy (Francis McDormand, who won an Oscar for Fargo); while in Mandalay, Laura witnessed a political rally led by Aung San Suu Kyi (who later won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991). But then things go wrong, and there’s a military crack¬down. Unable to leave Burma because of a lost passport, Laura tries to flee the country with the help of a middle-aged Buddhist priest whose life is also in danger.

For my small role as a hotel guest, they asked me to bring along some touristy clothes so I picked out a geometrical Balinese shirt, beige pants, beige socks and hush puppy shoes.

Deborah, who was in charge of Wardrobe, took one look at me and said, “I have just the thing for you.” She asked me to follow her to Wardrobe, which was located inside a shipping container. She held up a pair of plaid shorts.

“You got to be kidding,” I said. “That's really tacky!”

She smiled and said, “That's the look, I'm afraid,” and asked me to put them on.


She nodded.

When an attractive woman asks you (orders you) to undress, who am I to say no? So down went the pants and up went the shorts. The beige socks and shoes remained. So did my pale legs. Not a pretty sight. It was a wonder Deborah didn't bolt out of the container.

My friend Joelle, however, had it worse; despite her red hair, she was asked to wear a pink dress. Boorman kept referring to her as the lady in pink.

-excerpted from "Beyond Rangoon Part I" from Tropical Affairs: Episodes from an Expat’s Life in Malaysia.

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I 

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