DECEMBER 3, 2009
DYING ON THE PLATFORM! That was my feeling when I stood up on the stage of POPULAR
Book Fair at Danga Mall in Johore Baru!
We arrived in Johore Baru at 7 pm, and went straight to Danga Mall. POPULAR Book Fair was
the Expo Building of Danga Mall. It was a huge mall with avid readers hunting for good book
bargains. Apart from books, there were loads of other interesting stuff like stationery, etc., etc.
There was some kind of “laughter workshop” going on the stage. Some uniformed ladies were
laughing and gaffing away into the microphone, and a small crowd of children and mothers
were following suit. The noise was deafening, but I must say that I too was caught in the
By 7.45 pm, the laughter session was done, and the stage was empty. Two women and
5 children remain glued to their seats buried in their books.
My team mates, Enrique and Chee Wah, set up the videos, and played clips of my book
talk at Ikano, and the graduation dinner of Image Dynamics Coaching at The Prime.
The seated audience did not even bother to look up. Book browsers were more involved
at the book shelves. Hardly anyone looked at the screen. What a cold welcome from the
Terence and the team from POPULAR were very warm (and that offset the coldness from
the public). They assisted us to set up the place and did everything possible to make us feel
good. Thank you, Terence and your team from Popular!
English or Mandarin? I was debating within myself, which language I should use in Johore Baru.
At 8 pm, two of my good friends, Pauline Lau and Mei Suan, came by to give me the support.
That helped to ease my nerves a little. My youngest daughter, Estelle was giving me warm
smiles of assurance. That helped tremendously. Chee Wah went round the mall, distributing
leaflets and inviting the browsers to come for the book talk. There was a couple who were
reading THE HOLY BIBLE – they ignored Chee Wah completely even though he stood there,
offering the leaflet to them. Enrique was busy, ensuring that the videos were being screened.
Terence made a few announcements, inviting the public to the talk. NO-ONE RESPONDED!
I sat there, my heart turning cold. Chee Wah took over, and unperturbed, made a few
announcements in Mandarin and English, inviting people to the book talk. Still NO-ONE!
It was really disheartening.
English or Mandarin? I was still at a cross-road on which language to use. At 8.15 pm
(15 minutes late), I went up to the stage, and talk to an empty audience. Not really empty,
as there was Pauline, Mei Suan and my daughter, Estelle in the audience. The two women
and five children did not even look up at me. The older woman glanced sideways from time
to time with an angry frown which read like “DON’T COME NEAR ME”. And… she was
wearing the red “laughter” tee-shirt. A member of the laughter team, who was supposed
to make people laugh and be happy! If you know what I mean ……..
So I stood on the stage, mumbling and muttering stuff that sounded like rubbish to my ears.
In my insecure state, I used English as my opening line. Mistake!
I felt like I WAS DYING ON THE PLATFORM.
I got Mei Suan on stage, did a body image profiling on her and explained to an empty
audience about the right cut to use for her hour-glass body. Madame Red Laughter
Tee-shirt looked up and quickly looked down again. I knew she was interested. I caught
her many times, looking up and listening intently, and looked down again each time
my gaze fell on her.
From the corner of my eye, I spotted a young lady browsing my book. I went down the
stage and literally begged her to come on stage for a body image profiling. She was my
anchor, and if I remember correctly, her name is Grace. Thank you, Grace, you saved