Of Sarah and Bathura

Once upon a time, in a galaxy not too far away, I used to only want to jam if the guys in the band let me sing Angel by Sarah McLachlan as the first song for the two hour session. The guys, all of Raoul, Carl, Melvin, Cheong Soon and the gals – Samantha and Sharon, would kindly oblige, broke into an acoustic drummy version of Angel and I will sing away. Only after that, would I start singing THEIR songs, often not doing justice to their beautiful melodies and insightful lyrics of course. Then again. Imagine Angel being sang almost every weekend that we jammed, sometimes two times a week, and that only made Melvin decided “Hey! Let’s do Angel in reggae!!”. And we did. We mutilated the song, that goes without saying. Yes Sarah, please forgive us.

I used to be so crazy over Sarah McLachlan. I still am. Her music, her voice and her soulful emotions when she sings beat any other singers I know. Including Natalie Merchant. Jamming with a band was a childhood dream, so when I got the chance to do so with the guys, the first song I performed publicly was Sarah’s – Building a Mystery. During my news journalist days, I used to tell people I would be the first to hand in my request to interview her, if she ever comes into Singapore. I have even campaigned for some other female journalists/colleagues to save money and come with me to the US, just so that I can attend Lilith Fair, an open-air concert hosted by Sarah McLachlan which features and celebrates female singers. I never did go to Lilith Fair, neither did I ever interview her.

Yesterday, something strange happened in between my roti and basmati rice at a rather subdued looking Indian restaurant on Main Street. DH and I just arrived from Toronto after a week-long documentary festival and we were tired and hungry after the five hour flight. MIL and SIL, who fetched us at the airport, suggested brunch mama-style, at a litle do called Himalayas Indian Restaurant in Vancouver’s own mama-town. The place was something like Singapore’s New Woodlands Restaurant at Upper Dickson St, run-down looking but you know the food is good.

We thought we were the only ones there, as it was pretty early (and a Sunday morning too) – about 11 am. There was however, a table of ten people next to us. I didn’t take a second look as to who they were – they looked like a typical mix of Indian and Caucasian family. My basmati rice and potato vindaloo were beckoning me, so I succumbed to it.

In between bites, I glanced at that table. Of all my years of admiring her talent and fantasizing how one day I would meet her backstage, interview her or even jam with her, I never thought I would have my first meeting with Sarah McLachlan with bathura in her hand. She did not have a mike with her, neither was she strumming her guitar or hitting the piano keys. She was just plainly, eating her mama food. She was with the Indian side of her family (her husband is Indian, in case some if you didn’t know) and they, like us, were enjoying their mama brunch too.

I didn’t do what I would have expected myself to do. I did consider going up to her, snap a picture, ask for her autograph, you know, that kind of thing. DH reminded me that it is her family time, and we should not be rude and disrupt that. I could not let go of my roti in hand, curry in mouth, as it was the only comfort I have now that Sarah is just a table away from me, and I don’t get to say hi. Our eyes did lock for a bit, and I figure she’d probably notice the colourful flower top I was wearing that I got from the Island Shop at Tangs. Yes, the one that made the Jalan guys called me a walking garden. If she asked, I would have gladly told her how much it costs. Affordable, Ms McLachlan, especially with the kind of money you are making with your royalties. If it is of any consolation, she was wearing something flowery too – a bell-sleeved pink top with large flower prints made of soft chiffon. If we don’t have a good singing voice in common, at least we like flowery tops. Hah.

We finished our meal and decided to leave. DH was hurrying us a bit, the moment he realised that MIL and SIL were excited too that Sarah was there. As we walked out of the door, MIL said, “Well, that’s it.” What a closure, albeit a painful one for me. We laughed at how we probably parked beside her car, and we should take a picture of her car instead. Yes, call us a family groupie.

It was only when we reached home and I excitedly shared the story with BIL and his wife, that I was told how celebs love to live in Vancouver because no one disturbs them in public. Canadians are apparently like that, very respectable of their privacy and their personal space. But hey, I am NOT Canadian – so technically I can be different, no?

I heard that Robin Williams, who has a house in Vancouver, has often been seen jogging along False Creek. Now, where are those jogging shoes? I can jog in style you know, if I sway my hips a bit more when I run.


  1. ZU! just read this. My god, i do love sarah. However if you do see AYUMI HAMASAKI in vancouver, forget the niceties and pls ask her to sign a card for me that says “aieshiteru wan”. did u like fog of war? talk soon for jalan-jalan.

  2. ok first, I need to remember how to spell that ‘aieshiteru wan’. It may just end up being written as soemething else!

    second, I dont know how Ayumi Hamasaki looks like! Ok I can google that.

    I did watch Fog of War, it is good, and funny too at some parts. The guy gives good soundbites.

    Oh you must must must watch Encounter Point by JustVisions, and Total Denial by Milena Kaneva.
    Did I tell you we met Werner Herzoq at HotDocs? !*grin*

  3. U can jog – in style? wait a minute, you can jog???
    oh, you mean, walk-walk, pant hard-hard and then relak-joe eating prata and nasi lemak, issit??
    cos i veguely remember us attempting the flashdance ala jennifer beals and falling all over ourselves cos headache… heh.. momok#1

  4. brapa ramai momok ada ni?

    aisehman, i am a big fan of sarah and lilith fair too!! and i especially love ‘angel’.nanti u sing for me eh, i nak dengar…

    if i were u,tak kira la dia ada giant bathura ke mysore dosai ke i’d send over a pot of masala tea and a little note to say hullo. ayo rugi la…

    anyway, ajun is probably right, we should not intrude her private time.

    and i do so love ur garden blouse. dah tak ada kat island shop.

    and lastly…hi wan!!!

    oh my verification code is kbrCIS. Cis!

  5. Nice story.
    Vancouver is the so-called “Hollywood North”, and if you frequent the “right places” you’ll have no problem bumping into famous faces.


  6. nazrah: now why didnt I think abt sending her that pot of tea?! Aiyaahh..must have been distracted by the yummy kari in my mouth la! Cis!

    Norlinda: I dont want to bump into famous faces, especially the ones I grew up admiring (and trying to emulate and errr…impersonate!). It makes me feel so conflicted! 😉

  7. ahemmm, robin williams lives in SF u know that right? but it isnt me who jog behind him when he goes for a jog in his neighborhod ok!

  8. mak ai!!!!!!! bom……. privacy tak privacy…. aiyo. chet. i would have leh. a friend of mine a month ago was at borders and saw ari wibowo. also tak berani nak say hello. pasal husband dia tak kasik. aper niiiiiiiii…..

  9. Robin Williams does indeed have a SF home – but I believe he has a place in Vancouver also, considering he’s filming here always. The recent RV movie and his next movie are filmed here…

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