Looking back on a decade of writing

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  • Wednesday, 04 Jan 2017

IT IS hard to believe that it has been more than 10 years since this column appeared in the pages of StarMetro. The Bangsar Boy was a small idea that was born over (possibly) sirap ais and karipap, when I was telling my then-editor stories about mum’s obsession with computer games.

Over the past decade, I have been privileged enough to have a platform for me to tackle various topics – from the values my parents raised me with to the different people I grew up with in Bangsar, my observations about Kuala Lumpur life and commentary about the various socio-cultural and political issues in Malaysia.

To mark this personal milestone of mine, I have put together a book titled Growing Up In KL: 10 Years of The Bangsar Boy, published by MPH Group Publishing.

The book includes a selection of articles from The Bangsar Boy column over the past 10 years, as well as new nugget-sized musings, thoughts and reflections on them by many of my friends and colleagues including Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Datuk Yasmin Yusuff, Elaine Daly, Ivy Josiah, Carmen Soo, Datuk Zahim Albakri, and more.

As you read this article today, copies of the book will be en route to me, hot off the press, in time to be available on selected bookshelves from this Saturday onwards.

I do not know how I will feel when I finally have a copy of the book in my hands. The process of putting this book together has been quite a roller-coaster of emotions – excitement, trepidation, worry, stress and joy altogether.

For one thing, it was quite an arduous process having to go through all my old articles – hundreds of them! – and dealing with not just with being reminded of my emotions and state of mind when writing them, but also to see how my values, opinions and thoughts have changed over the years as well.

In that sense, I found myself in a completely fortunate position to be in; while everyone spent the past few days reflecting on another year gone by as we tend to do with New Year’s Day, I spent about four to five months reflecting not just on a decade of writing, but almost five decades of my life.

I recalled all the wonderful emails I received from people who felt my writings resonated with them, or they trusted me enough to share their own experiences and life related to things I wrote about. Of course, with those “bouquets” also came the “brickbats”.

But good or bad, those emails – and conversations I have had with those who had come up to me personally on the streets sometimes – has helped me be a better writer, and a better person as well.

I have put together Growing Up In KL with all these people in mind – as well as the many people who have allowed me over the years to share their stories. The articles featured in the book are not about me alone, but it is about all of us – my family, my friends and my fellow Malaysians.

I am well aware of this, and that is why I would like to invite everyone to MPH Nu Sentral this Saturday at 2pm, for the public launch of the book to celebrate this new baby of mine, and my 10-year milestone.

The book will be rolling out first at MPH bookstores, and then at all major bookstores nationwide.

I do not think I have ever written about this but my childhood dream was not always to be a published writer only, I wanted to author a book.

As a child, I used to “adapt” books I read to a local context before illustrating a cover on a manila cardboard, binding the pages together using masking tape before selling it to my parents for some extra pocket money.

I may not know yet how I will feel as I hold a copy of Growing Up In KL, but I know that today is the day that one of my dreams has come true thanks to the generosity and hard work of my producer Low Ngai Yuen, the designers at Fearless Ideas and Design, Ee Lai Cheng, Kuah Sze Mei and her team at MPH, Goh Miah Kiat at Karex Berhad and Burton Menswear London among others.

The 10 years of the column, and the publishing of this book, is also only possible with the support of my family, friends and the many editors I have had the honour of working with at The Star over the years.

And you readers, of course.

Happy New Year to all of you and I hope that 2017 will be the year your dreams come true, the way mine has.

Niki Cheong is a PhD researcher in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies at The University of Nottingham, UK. Connect with him online at www.nikicheong.com/fb.

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