Good day to buy a temple…

“What does your typical day look like?” she asks, sitting across from me shiny-eyed and expectant. And I want to tell her so she’ll have a definition of me that she can take out and look at when she’s back at home shoveling snow. But it’s impossible. There are no typical days.

For example, last night it was approaching that hour when I lower the lights, slip into my shapeless soft bedshirt, and go limp. I had gotten as far as lowering the lights when a knock came at the door.

“You beezy?” I couldn’t lie. I hadn’t been this un-beezy all day.

“No, not busy, please come in.” Pasek, all showered and slicked-back hair, asks if he can speak with me. I switch on dazzling overhead lights and lead him to the dining table. Then I notice he has the calendar with him.

The Balinese calendar is a thing of frightful significance. It governs life. From the full moon to the dark moon and everything in-between, the calendar identifies auspicious days for weddings, cremations, pouring foundations, or starting a new business. The dates of ceremonial days are listed, and when to bless the plants or the motorbikes and cars and other machines. I haven’t scratched the surface. If you flip it over to the back you can find out who you should or should not marry. There’s so much information on that calendar even the average Balinese person has to consult a higher source to get it right.

Pasek spreads it out between us. “This today,” he says pointing to the 24th of November. Then he moves his finger to the 26th. “This you go to Prances (France).” He turns his head to meet my eyes. His are serious. “Must buy temple tomorrow,” he says.

When my gaping mouth, raised eyebrows, and furrowed brow indicate that I have nothing to say, he continues. “If not make temple on 26 Nopember, no good Desember. Not until end of Januari.”

I find it ironic and sweet that a sizeable part of my life is governed by that calendar. I’m not Hindu so my personal involvement isn’t much, but the people who work for me and with me, are. For them, the temple is the security system. Without that structure to receive the daily offerings that seek blessing for the house and grounds, there is no protection. I may as well issue a personal invitation to the dark energies, “Come and party here!” Not only that, the property becomes suspect, achieves a haunted status and is considered a place to be avoided.

We’re on the road by 8:00 a.m. “You want from stone?” Pasek asks. How do I know what I want? What are the options?

“I want to look around, okay?”

“Ya, okay”

We cruise along and I watch the roadside for examples. There are many. Some are bulky, massive, scary-looking. None are appealing until my eye lights on one more delicately detailed.

“Pasek! Look! I like that one.”

“Cement? Not stone? You like cement? More cheap.”

Now I like it even better. I have no clue how much a temple will set me back. Then I have the presence of mind to ask, “Is cement okay?” I’ve already been told that the kind of temple I need cannot have a roof. The roofed variety is used beside a river. Mine should be open on top.

“Ya, okay.”

After a few more miles Pasek pulls to a stop. We’re sitting in front of the exact, massive stone structures I don’t want. But I’ve learned to hold my tongue. Then I get instructions. “You tourist. Don’t speak. I speak say temple for me. Good price.” Then he states the obvious, “These stone. You want cement, ya?”



“Yes, please.”

But just for kicks he goes off in search of the owner and comes back with a price. I breathe again. If the cement ones are cheaper I’m in good shape.

We’re on our way until a quick swerve across oncoming traffic lands us in concrete land. I pull out my camera, put on my most inane, clueless tourist look, and follow Pasek. So far we’re alone and I already know the one I want. “This one,” I point, then fall back as a woman approaches.

Pasek is slick. He negotiates, points out defects that I can’t see, and massages the shopkeeper in the subtle, alpha male kind of way that he’s mastered.



It will be delivered this afternoon, he tells me. It’s one-half the price of the other one and it’s pretty, not a stodgy, box-like block of stone!

Commerce completed, we slide onto the motorbike and hightail back to Ubud. Tomorrow there’ll be a small ceremony. I’ll put on my kebaya, sarong, sash, and do what I’m told. Then I’ll zip up my suitcase and catch a plane for a wedding in Paris….all in a typical day’s work!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephen James Castley
    Nov 25, 2014 @ 03:23:50

    Perfectly beautiful, as are you. You humble me. Steve



  2. Diane Struble
    Nov 25, 2014 @ 03:33:52

    Glad you got it done before leaving. It will make all of your Balinese friends feel better. Your choice is definitely more fragile and artistic than the stone ones although I liked those as well. I think a tiny temple would look rather cold in our winters. Have a good time in Paris and hug the girls for me.



  3. sageblessings
    Nov 25, 2014 @ 07:03:23

    It’s beautiful and delicate. Good choice, Sherry. And good story, as always. Journey well my friend.



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