Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Turning Balinese

So, I haven't updated in a long time. I had lots of thoughts on my time in India to share...I have such fond memories of India and am really looking forward to spending some more time in the country in October/November.

But meanwhile, there's so much fun to be had here in Bali. The first thoughts I had were about perspective and how different it can be in a short few years. Last time I came to Bali I thought the traffic was intense and hectic but after India, the roads here seem quite relaxed, casual and peaceful, still a bit loose on the rules but definently a dream after Bangalore!!! After arriving and spending a few relaxing days in Kuta I headed up to Jules village in Baturiti. Its lovely and cool up here in the mountains and it took me only a day or two to adjust to the crowing roosters and general village noise early in the morning... I absorbed myself into the rhythm of the village life and preparations for the ceremony, peeling enormous mounds of garlic and onion, getting stuck into the never ending piles of washing up and clothes washing... clean clothes are such a commodity when you are washing everything by hand!! and babysitting the kids as Jules rushed down to the markets over and over again gathering supplies for the mountain of offerings that were beginning to pile up down at the temporary temple the men built for the occasion. The language is difficult but I am improving; I am confusing quite a lot of people because I am speaking a mix of Bahasa and Balinese but they get the drift!!!

I spent some time with the women folding the offerings and preparing food..it's quite difficult becuase the ladies demonstrate only once with their hands flying and then giggle as inevitably I get my pandanus in a tangle!! Luckily Jules as taken some time to show me the more simple weaving and I have mastered some of those... After a few days the family arrived and things really got into swing. I covered myself in glory by catching the dragonfly required for the offering but then the next hour had a fall from grace as just before the ceremony it was noticed that the crab was missing. I had knocked the pot a few days before and not realising the significance had forgotten to tell anyone about it. With all the tremendous effort and expense that had gone into the cermony I was worried that all the good luck could be undone by the loss of the crab. Luckily the priest had a solution as Jules was justifiably a little upset... Louie did not have his head shaved and there will need to be another ceremony in a year and a half with the crab..Apparently I have to return and catch it. Well Bali is such a lovely place there'll be no complaints from me!!!

The cermony was full of lots of great dancing and performance and some great gamelan bands, Jules really put on a great party and with the extra time I have spent in the village I was able to participate more fully in the various tasks that had to be undertaken during the day. Greeting visitors with Om Swastiastyu and a fresh brew of Bali Coffee and a sweetcake. I took the gift they brought (each one the same; sugar, rice and noodles) and added it to the piles and then filled their baskets with cooked food from the enormous feast on offer.

It has been fun watching Mahuni, Jules three year old daughter adjust to life in Bali. One of the things I didnt consider before I arrived was the language.. after I arrived she switched back to mostly speaking English, leaving her poor grandma out in the cold. I felt bad for this because her grandma sees so little of her... but after a few days the penny dropped and she worked out that I don't speak Indonesian and that Grandma doesnt speak English but that she could speak both..clever little girl. I am always asking her for translations. The best one was when I said it was 'Panas Kali' and asked her what it meant in English. She responded 'Enormous Panas' (but pronounced it Penis!!) Hehheeh. It means Very Hot, so she was so close but yet so far!!!

I spent some time after the ceremony travelling around with Will's brother Ben on a bike that he rented. We toured through Lovina, Amed and Sanur and had a really great time. A few times we met up with some other family and friends and generally enjoyed a lot of nice meals, laughs, massages and bintang... Ben and I travelled together for a week and got along really well and it was so nice to have the freedom of the bike. He was a great driver, experienced rider and it put my mind at ease, which thanks to my father and his stories of bike accidents was full of all sorts of horror scenarios!! (thanks Dad! lol.)

I am back in the village now, reimersed in ceremonies...of course this is Bali. There are ceremonies all the time, I have been to cermonies for the car, ceremonies for the land, cremations and currenly we are in the middle of a three day village ceremony...but I enjoy it. It is nice to sit in a temple contemplating the universe and tucking flowers behind my ear, reminding myself to be grateful for all the things I have done and all those I am still to do....

1 comment:

Susan B said...

Sounds like life in the village has been really interesting - glad to hear all about it.