For information, $1 per minute

Breakfast happens here. I shot this photo from my balcony, and that chair by the post is where I sit every morning. The little canal is home to the playful coi that keep me entertained as they fight over the hibiscus blossoms that happen to land in the water. Each statue, and there are many, is adorned with a flower every morning as part of the gratitude offerings made daily here.

Fido appears to be dismayed that he has lost his flower! Others have been blown into the canal where the coi immediately dart toward them, imagining I suppose, that they are bright red treats.

Dewa appeared as I was polishing off the last of my egg and cheese on whole wheat toast and I asked him about the Hindu caste system. He laughed and said that it doesn’t apply anymore, then proceeded to tell me that there are four levels. Brahmins are the holy men and women who have tremendous responsibility but can make no money. They depend entirely upon the proceeds from the rice fields owned by the temples. There are other forms of revenue but that explanation was lost on me since Dewa’s English is very good but my understanding of it isn’t always spot on.  Kshatriyas are the next level. They are the military strata and Dewa informed me that he is one of these. Vaishyas, third in the heirarchy, are the administrators in the system, and Shudras are the workers. Men are born into their strata and cannot move from one level to another. “However,” Dewa says, eyes twinkling, “women can by marriage. Also, there are levels within these levels and men can move up or down in status depending upon their abilities.”

He goes on to explain to me that the Balinese also have a strict order for events in life. As a young man you find a girlfriend. Then you get your education. Then you marry. Then you make money…”Lots of money,” he grins and adds, “for information, $1.00 per minute!” I join his hearty laughter at this joke. “The the last stage of life is wisdom,” he says, “deep connection with the spirit.” He points then to a woman working in the rice paddy in front of us and explains that she is Shudras, a worker. He asks me if I would like to work in the paddy? I look at the woman, knee deep in mud, bent over to tend the young shoots, and I wonder what life must be like for her. I look back at Dewa, “I’m very lucky.” I tell him. And he agrees.

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