2006.05.07: May 7, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malawi: Writing - Malawi: COS - Malaysia: Malaysia Star: Paul Theroux visits Malaysia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Special Report: RPCV Paul Theroux: Paul Theroux: Newest Stories: 2006.05.07: May 7, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malawi: Writing - Malawi: COS - Malaysia: Malaysia Star: Paul Theroux visits Malaysia

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-69-150-133-223.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 11:13 am: Edit Post

Paul Theroux visits Malaysia

Paul Theroux visits Malaysia

" I am travelling to the same places I went to on my trip in 1973, comparing the then and now. Before coming to Singapore, I was in Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, India, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Bucharest and Istanbul. Prior to that, I was in London and Paris. There are so many differences. No one had a cell phone then. There was no Internet, no credit card. I was completely disconnected. Things are so different now. " Author Paul Theroux served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi in the 1960's.

Paul Theroux visits Malaysia

Theroux’s comet


PAUL Theroux was in town and no one knew about it. Well, he was in Penang for some days and passed through Kuala Lumpur en route to Singapore. Even the Singaporeans might not have known he was on their turf, had his publisher not leaked it out.

What does one ask (via e-mail) a prolific writer who might not, like Halley’s Comet, pass this way again for many years? The last time he was here was 33 years ago.

(For the benefit of younger readers who may not have heard of him before, Theroux writes best-selling novels and travel books, giving armchair travellers interesting vignettes of people and places all over the world.)

Theroux’s fluid style is a unique mix of the cerebral and the sardonic. His ability to make a scene come alive is akin to the morning sunlight gradually flooding a room. It is not a sudden glare, but a subtle illumination.

His craftsmanship is not limited to his travel tales but extends to his novels and short stories. One of his books, My Other Life, blends fact with fiction, leaving the reader to wonder which parts are autobiographical and which, fiction. His is a lively mind with an ironic sense of humour and a fascination for literary conceit.

As a travel writer, what’s your opinion of TV travel programmes such as those featuring Ian Wright and Anthony Bourdain?

I suppose these shows cater for couch-potato travellers. I don’t watch them but I think they should be taken with a pinch of salt as things are somewhat contrived, there being a camera and a technical crew. These shows don’t bother me as there are different types of travelling. There is “travelling” and there are “vacations” and most people go for vacations. Travelling in the pure sense of the word is a solitary ordeal.

What brings you to this part of the world?

I am travelling to the same places I went to on my trip in 1973, comparing the then and now. Before coming to Singapore, I was in Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, India, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Bucharest and Istanbul. Prior to that, I was in London and Paris. There are so many differences. No one had a cell phone then. There was no Internet, no credit card. I was completely disconnected. Things are so different now.

Having said that, I must commend your railway service, KTM. It is very well run. I am an American, and if we had such a service in the United Staes, I would be very proud of it. The station in Butterworth (Penang) was clean, orderly and computerised. I find your country fascinating and well organised, with great infrastructure. And the people are very nice. When I was in Sabah a long time ago, the climb up Mount Kinabalu was simply amazing. You have a wonderful big country and hinterland, with neat little kampungs which I would love to stay in.

I would say live in a place for a year. When you are at one place for a period of time, you get to understand the problems of the people, what makes them tick. You get to relate to them, make some friends.

Everyone has similar problems, such as money problems and so on. You need to experience all the four seasons with them,

see them live, see their crops get planted, cultivated, harvested, marketed. Then

you can truly say you know a little about them.

For example, I would love to live in Penang. It has the same charm and pace of life as Singapore, when I last made my trip there. It has a nice beach. I would love to explore the pre-war shop houses and get to know the local people.

Would you say you are a modern-day Marco Polo?

I wouldn’t say that; you know, he went to jail for a while! But he is a good role model for a traveller. He was not out there to enjoy himself but to learn about the cultures of the people he met. And he came back and related what he saw.

What’s your next project?

As I mentioned, this is the same journey I took 33 years ago. Writing about that will be my next project. I went to all those places but there were some places where I was not allowed in, such as Iran, even though I told them I was supportive of their president speaking his mind and admired him for not being intimidated by anyone!

Would you recommend that journalists go to danger zones to report on what’s really happening there?

Yes, I think they should. There are places in this world where there are dictators and they have secret police operating for them and the people are oppressed and this is not good. So people should know about things like these.

If you had your life to live all over again, would you have chosen any life other than that of a writer?

No, I would not. I would do it all again. Life for a writer can be uncertain and you hope you will be lucky to make a living. I am surprised at how very lucky and how very fortunate my life has turned out to be.

When this story was posted in July 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director Date: June 30 2006 No: 920 Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director
The Senate confirmed Gaddi Vasquez to head the FAO on June 30. Jody Olsen will be acting Director until the President makes a permanent appointment. Olsen has been Deputy Director of the Peace Corps since 2002. She has previously served as Chief of Staff for two directors, as regional director for North Africa, Near East, and Asia and the Pacific, and as country director in Togo. She served in Tunisia as a PCV.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Changing the Face of Hunger Date: June 28 2006 No: 915 Changing the Face of Hunger
In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.

PC will not return to East Timor in 2006 Date: June 8 2006 No: 913 PC will not return to East Timor in 2006
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.

Chris Dodd considers run for the White House Date: June 3 2006 No: 903 Chris Dodd considers run for the White House
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.

The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan Date: June 6 2006 No: 912 The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan
Probably no RPCV has done more to further the Third Goal of the Peace Corps than John Coyne with the Peace Corps Writers web site and newsletter that he and Marian Haley Beil have produced since 1989. Now John returns to writing about his first love - golf in "The Caddie who knew Ben Hogan." Read an excerpt from his novel, an interview with the author and a schedule of his book readings in Maryland and DC this week.

Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee Date: June 3 2006 No: 905 Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.

First Amendment Watch Date: May 4 2006 No: 883 First Amendment Watch
Maine Web Report hit with Federal Lawsuit
Website wins trademark suit against Jerry Falwell

Interview with a Hit Man Date: April 25 2006 No: 880 Interview with a Hit Man
RPCV John Perkins says that for many years he was an "economic hit man" in the world of international finance whose primary job was to convince less developed countries to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects that left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. In this exclusive interview for "Peace Corps Online," Colombia RPCV Joanne Roll, author of Remember with Honor, talks to Perkins about his Peace Corps service, his relation with the NSA, "colonization" in Ecuador, the consequences of his work, why he decided to speak out, and what his hopes are for change.

PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended Date: April 14 2006 No: 872 PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended
Director Vasquez announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Chad on April 14 and that all 29 Peace Corps volunteers have left the country. With a program dating back forty years (See Page 4 of the April 1966 "Peace Corps Volunteer"), RPCVs hope that volunteers can return to Chad as soon as the situation has stabilized. Congratulations to the Peace Corps for handling the suspension quickly and professionally.

Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position — on March 2 — the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Malaysia Star

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Malawi; Writing - Malawi; COS - Malaysia


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.