A new shop appeared on Monkey Forest Road about six months ago. In and of itself, that’s not newsworthy. Sidewalk shops and cafe’s in Ubud come and go all the time. But this one was different.
I was going along at a good clip, as good a clip as I can while being on high alert to every hillock and open chasm in the sidewalk. As I passed what had been a construction site for weeks, I did a double-take. There, sitting outside the spiffy new shop, was a white bench with a pillow on it. The pillow cover looked like it had been crocheted out of large ropes of multi-colored fabric. It was so un-Bali!
Since I was going nowhere in particular, and on no set schedule, I checked the name of the shop, BaliZen, and wandered in. It took me two and one-half seconds to know for certain that this shop was owned by an American…an American with exquisite taste. I sniffed and sucked in the delicious odor of quality.
My eyes scanned the contents. There were hand made bedcoverings, fanciful lanterns in patterned fabrics hanging from the ceiling, a daybed in seafoam green with white accents, home goods of every delicious shape and description, and…dishes.
Before I moved to Bali I sold or gave away all of my beloved dishes. My mother had multiple sets of china, she still does. One mother-in-law had an absolute addiction and stored boxes upon boxes of expensive table settings under her bed. But since coming here I had been operating with the leftovers from the previous occupant.
I circled the store many times that first day, imprinting the different patterns of the plates and bowls on my memory. There was a chinoiserie motif in granny-apple green. The bold red paisley dishware had darling scalloped bowls. My eyes feasted while my heart lusted, but I walked out empty handed.
In the months that followed, every time I was a little at loose ends, I’d stroll to BaliZen and spend 30 – 40 minutes surrounded by casual elegance. I don’t know when I knew, but at some point it settled into my bones that I wanted dishes, and if I was patient, the perfect pattern and color would appear here, at BaliZen.
Yesterday I told a friend about my favorite shop. “Let’s go!” she said, so we did. And there, displayed to perfection, accessorized with impeccable care, were my dishes. They were bold but tasteful and the right shade of Bali bed blue. It was love, quick and sure, as I gathered them up and presented them to the darlings behind the counter who have greeted me kindly every time I enter and leave the shop without spending a dime. We all knew my time would come.
It feels strange to be in love with blue. It started with the bed. When that electrifying color moved into my space I knew I’d either love it or re-paint it. Whether it has to do in part with the fact that it’s Ketut’s father’s handiwork, or whether my taste buds are changing, I don’t know for sure. But I have grown irrationally fond of Bali blue. Now the plates reinforce that color.
The only thing that causes mild panic to flutter around my heart is the fact that I’m accumulating belongings. I’ve sworn off ‘things’ and have chosen to live a simple, uncluttered life. Oh, and by the way…did I mention my fabulous new chairs???