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Nature is abundance in Sarawak with its vast rainforest, big and long rivers, and mighty mountains. City kids seldom notice this as they are more exposed to gadgets and other modern toys. The storytelling and bookmark making session at The Spring Baruk with Nia Latif gave some perspective to an old tradition relating to nature.


When Nia Latif shared a story about bunga terung or eggplant flower, a traditional tattoo design motive for Dayak community, being used as a mark for a boy’s passage into manhood the children were amazed. After the storytelling session they continued with bookmark making workshop using bunga terung design. The children aged 4 to 12 years really enjoyed making their personal bookmark to take back home. They learned about Dayak culture and the significance of Gawai Dayak or harvest festival which will be celebrated on 1 June.


I reached Kuching for the Pustaka Bookaroo, excited and doing a Zumba step in my head (as one does). My bag did not share my enthusiasm – it dragged its feet and stayed back in Kuala Lumpur. Clearly, this was a good move. When I got to the marvellous Permai Rainforest Resort, my bag had attained a celebrity status we children’s authors can only aspire to. Everyone had heard about it, everyone asked about it, and when it finally came, it was greeted with joy by so many people who had never met it before that I’m afraid it must have quite gone to its head. Enough about it.


A treehouse at the Permai Rainforest Resort


We had a lovely long lunch, which epitomised what such festivals are all about. Delicious, exotic food (see the photograph), conversations that ranged from cricket to the history and geography of Sarawak, children, reading and books, and catching up with old friends and new – Rosemarie and Vinod Somaiyya from Singapore, Ameen Haque from Bangalore, Golda from Sibu in Sarawak.


Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Jo, Swati and Venky, the tireless Bookaroo team, joined us for dinner with Wendy Cooling, Wendy and Graham Knight. Mas, who is organising the transport and the arrangements at the resort, was there with her husband Rahim. Great food and many wonderful conversations later, we headed to our rooms, to get an early night.


A lovely day, and this is just the beginning! Tomorrow begins with breakfast at seven, and a visit to a faraway school.


Anushka Ravishankar

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