Servings of Dragonfruit

Prepare for a tasting of dragonfruit, in three servings……..

Firstly, the Dragonfruit Book Launch – this was delayed from June and took place in Hong Kong on Thursday 16 October.  Wonderful!  I couldn’t attend.  😦  Not so wonderful! When the revised date came through, I was not surprised, but still disappointed that my schedule was completely booked (out of Yangon) for that week. There was not even the tiniest of possibilities that I could attend.  An important seminar was in my diary from 13 to 17 October so not even a glimpse of opportunity to somehow fit it in.  But in a way, that is easier.  No heart-wrenching decisions to make, no searching, researching and re-researching complex travel options and no sense of “almost” missing the event.  It was clearly not an option, and indeed while I did feel disappointed, this was not as deeply cutting as it would have been if I had expected to go.  But still.

The event took place in Bookazine, Prince’s Building in Central District, Hong Kong.  That’s a REAL bookshop with shelves of books, and REAL copies of Dragonfruit. How I wish I had seen that.  (I am still scouring the shelves of any bookshop I visit, in the hope that I will see it, but that day still has to come). I am very glad, though, that I could attend virtually through Dragonfruit editor, Shannon’s blog and meet fellow writer contributors in a number of photographs on Facebook.  Great chunks of dragnfruit were served alongside fine wine and readings from the book.  Delicious!

Dragonfruit Book Launch

However, I did not miss out entirely on connecting with fellow writers from Dragonfruit.  By wonderful coincidence and thanks to the highly connected internet world we live in these days, three of us were able to meet in Yangon on Monday evening.  A kind of Fringe Event to the Official Launch!  One writer (has recently moved to Yangon, and it has been wonderful to connect and share how we feel (mostly wonder and disbelief) at being included in what is such an exciting book together. Pride and a little surprise that we are amongst such great and well reputed writers. Then we learned that another of the writers would also miss the Hong Kong Launch – because she would be on holiday in Myanmar.  She was passing through Yangon briefly on the way here and on return home.  There was a tiny window where we might be able to meet……..  Monday evening, providing flights and other variables allow.

All transpired to succeed rather than conspired to sabotage and we met even a little earlier than expected, for a comfortable dinner.  It is quite strange meeting people who you know from a distance, yet through their writing have insights into very personal experiences.  The other women know all about my breast cancer and much of its emotional fallout, for example, yet not about the mundane basics of my life, circumstances and work here.  We were almost a little mutually star struck!  Yet, for me it reinforced one of the very special elements of this particular book.  It has created more than words on a page, and stories of faceless strangers.  A community of similar minds has evolved and a spider’s web of differing levels of connection between the writers and editor.  Unexpected and welcome. And a second serving of dragonfruit.

dragonfruit Yangon

Dragonfruit Dinner in Yangon

And the third serving is imminent and somewhat daunting.  The Book Club I go along to in Yangon has selected Dragonfruit for our October read. That is REALLY quite scary.  I have bared my soul to the universe on this blog and now in the book and so far have been treated pretty gently by critics.  I guess that is a “benefit” of cancer – folks tread carefully around you. Now, I love our Book Club, but I cannot quite get my head around the fact that a piece of my writing will be dissected and pored over in the run up to, and on the evening of our Book Club evening.  I am glad that I am in good company and can hide – and also that my fellow Yangon-based writer will be there too.  However, I do feel very exposed and nervous about the discussion.

book club

 

So I have to pinch myself and remember. Having some of my writing published is an important life goal, and through Dragonfruit this has been realised.  (Even though I am hungry for more!) Indeed through Dragonfruit, I not only have a book in my possession which includes my work, but I have connected with a phenomenal group of people.  I have learned a great deal about the processes around publishing and understand just how little I really know!

A dragonfruit in the hand...

A dragonfruit in the hand…

 

So all in all, thanks to Dragonfruit, these servings are on the plate to share today!

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Many farewells, great confusions and a case full of Dragonfruit!

I think I am back in Yangon! Physically. Probably. I hope the head follows later. I left four weeks ago on home leave, and returned late yesterday afternoon. With the bonus extra flight into Scotland the travel takes over 24 hours without stopovers of more than a couple of hours, much longer if the layover is longer.

So I arrived home yesterday after a highly eventful flight (details coming) exhausted, disoriented and disconnected with reality. I struggled to stay awake until bedtime, in order to get back into Yangon time as soon as possible and especially to avoid that awful first day back, when you have to get up at what is late evening back in the UK. By 7 pm I was losing the battle, and I must have dropped off while reading around 7.30 pm. I woke with a start, from a vivid dream that I was in someone’s garden, by an electronic beep and found myself in total darkness. With absolutely no idea where I was. Not a clue. Eventually I heard an engine noise, which is our generator, the lights came back on and I realised that the beep was the UPS (Uninterupted Power Supply) and that I was home, woken by a power cut.

I am back indeed, with a great deal to tell and a massive backlog of correspondence and bloggery.

The past four weeks have flown in, with more gadding around the planet than I had sought and the greatest time and energy on special time with family. In particular, The Wedding. Suffice to say that my daughter was the most beautiful, radiant, stunning bride in the universe.

After the wedding, the goodbyes began. Farewells to friends and relatives who had travelled from near, far and very far. Some whom I had not seen for many years, and some who I had not previously met. At the beginning of the week, a sad farewell to my grandchildren, and to the bride and groom as they headed off on honeymoon. A staggered farewell, not making it any less painful but for once less abrupt.

And then I was faced with the daunting task of packing and preparing for my own journey. It is always a challenge to cram all of the bits and pieces I have collected on leave, to add to my existing luggage. Those little things I cannot get in Yangon, or papers, letters and the like. (Shhh – and books). Shopping for weddingry, however, means rather more to pack than usual and delights which are not so easy to transport back.A fascinator, glittery shoes with heels, fancy flat glittery shoes, fabric (for the mother of the bride creation), a shawl and those little items which are small on their own (favourite tea bags, nail varnish, moisturiser, gifts from the bride and groom, wedding favours and even a piece of wedding cake) but which sure add bulk and weight when you start packing them.

And this time, I had a number of copies of the Dragonfruit Anthology to bring back with me – most precious cargo! I had discovered when posting copies the day before, that they weigh 0.44 kilo each. I had soon added around 4 kilos of baggage and found that they take up a fair bit of space in the one check-in bag I am allowed.

Finally, I packed everything I needed (having left the usual warm weather woollies and essentials at my daughter’s place) and made my first attempt to close the case. That attempt failed. Failed by a mile, there was no way my poor suitcase was going to come anywhere near closing. The jettison had to start. Out came the glitter high heels, followed by the pretty blue flats. It still wouldn’t close. Then the shampoo and a few more things I can live without were extracted and eventually, with enormous complaint, the case was persuaded to close. The cabin bag was prepared carefully and as I put the last items into that other groaning bag, I found trouble! The previous day I had treated myself to some goodies from “Lush” and they were in my little carrying bag (having survived a drenching rainstorm in Edinburgh without turning into a fizzing mess). They were most certainly not allowed in cabin baggage, nor was I sacrificing them so I had to spend another twenty minutes trying to squeeze them into the corners of the case, crumbling as they were forced into a tiny space.

 

I was finally ready to leave for the airport, for the first leg on the 24 hour journey, with a head full of memories, many stories to tell in the coming days, great confusion and a case full of dragonfruit! Is it any wonder I arrived in this disoriented condition?

Dragonfruit for breakfast

There is a very special point in the year, when the first mangoes of the season are finally ready to eat.  We have been watching them for weeks, from the time when they appear as little walnut-sized promises.  At this time, just for a few days there are still a few of the last strawberries of the year available before they disappear until spring. This morning my breakfast included some of that very first mango of the season from the tree in our garden, along with a few of those late strawberries.  It is a rare and precious time, one which I anticipate for weeks, and treasure as it is hardly here and so soon gone.

This morning my breakfast bowl also contained a few pieces of dragonfruit. Coincidental, as this is special in a rather different way.  Today is the day that the cover image of the Anthology is released, and I am delighted to share this here.

Dragonfruit Full Cover-1

 

Isn’t it fabulous?

Dragonfruit Full Cover both sides

How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit will be published by Signal8 Press which is part of Hong Kong-based Typhoon Media, on 10 June. Details and updates are on the Facebook page and there is more information, including the initial reviews and links to all contributing writers on the Signal 8 Press site.

How I love dragonfruit for breakfast!