A TYPICAL DAY

 

“You have a plan?” Ketut asks as he puts the produce from his morning trip to the market on my countertop.

“I’m writing.”

“The book?”

“Yes.”

“You want to see bale?” A simple question.

I’ve been talking about wanting a bamboo gazebo in the garden. It would be a lovely spot to read, sip fresh papaya juice, have a massage, and daydream among the topical flowers and lush greenery sheltered from the sweltering rays of the sun.

“Okay.”

I fill my water bottle, sling a lightweight backpack over my shoulder, switch my phone to data, and grab flip-flops and my helmet. I meet Ketut and his motorbike at the end of the narrow path that leads from my house to the street, and slide on behind him.

neka

In the fifty minutes from the house to Blahbatuh village where bamboo is fashioned into everything from swinging baby bassinets to complete houses, I learn that this isn’t the only thing Ketut has in mind. His list includes another stop, Depot Bangunan in Gianyar. It’s similar but less than one-quarter the size of Home Depot stores in the States. Still, for Bali, it’s huge.

“What do we need there?”

“Medicine to make bat gone.” He thinks for a minute then adds, “And door.”

I have a friendly bat that hangs out under the eaves at night. She’s harmless but the mess on my terrace every morning puts me off any thoughts of breakfast. I wonder what kind of medicine he has in mind.

After spending more time together over the past six years than most married people, Ketut and I have an abbreviated dialogue that works. I speak in Indonesian to him, he answers in English. “Door?” I ask.

“For toilet,” he says.

“Aduh! At last!” We laugh. He’s about as stubborn a human as they come and he’s fought me on getting a new door to his bathroom for months – maybe a year. I shudder to think what decay it’s fallen into that has caused him to finally entertain my wishes.

Then he reminds me I also need a Saraswati statue – doesn’t everyone?

The jolly owner of the bale shop speaks only Indonesian, fast. I try to keep up but have to ask him over and over to please repeat. He does, louder, but not slower. I catch enough to be able to crack a few jokes.

I like his product and the haggling begins.”Twelve million rupiah,” he says. I register the appropriate level of shock, tell him I’m not a bule kaya (rich foreigner) and what is his ‘morning price.’ That gets a laugh. “Okay, eleven,” he says. I change the subject. “Okay, ten million. Good price.” He’s having fun and I take the final plunge.

“I’ll give you nine million five hundred because you’re so handsome.”

Oh my. He doubles over laughing, and when he comes up for air with eyes dancing he says, “Okay. I give you for 9 million five hundred because you speak joke in bahasa Indonesia.” If for no other reason than that I continue to force my atrophying brain to study, and struggle to twist my tongue around this exotic  language.

The Depot stop is cut and dried. No haggling here. Ketut finds what he wants for the bat, chooses his door with only moderate complaints about the price, and we’re on our way.

There are miles of statues along the main road to Denpasar but I’ve had my eye on a particular shop in Peliatan, closer to home. We pull in and there she is: Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, science and nature – with her swan.

dewi_saraswati

She’s gorgeous, but a little more elaborate, and a lot more expensive than what I’m looking for. I’m assured by the creator of this masterful piece that he can make anything and he will be happy to do so within my budget. “But you haven’t asked my budget,” I say, and give him a bit of a look.

“No problem, Madam,” he responds in perfect English, and right away I wish he’d said Ibu (mother), or Nenek (grandma), anything but Madam.

That word triggers me for some reason. It might be because it calls up images of an older woman who manages a brothel, escort service, or some other form of prostitution for profit. I’ve done many things for profit in my life but that isn’t one of them. However, it’s my problem, not his. How could he know? So I unruffle my feathers and we continue the process of establishing where my budget and his bottom line agree. The gap narrows, but doesn’t quite come together. I promise to think about it, and leave without ordering.

“You hungry?” Ketut asks as we straddle the bike and join the chaos in the street.

“Saya sangat lapar.” (Starving.) We head to a roadside food cart and pick up late lunch: a bunkus of rice, steamed vegetables, peanuts, a mixture of onions, garlic, tomato and chilies called bumbu, and other unidentifiable mysteries.

nasi-bungkus1

This isn’t westernized restaurant food. The flavors are pure Bali with lots of heat and we eat with our fingers sitting curbside. I carry a bottle of Thieves hand sanitizer in my purse at all times and use it before and after. Ketut likes the way it smells so he uses it too. We polish off the food like hungry wolves, then it’s back on the bike.

“Where?”

“Pulang, Ketut. Mau pulang.” The afternoon sun slips lower in the sky as he turns the bike toward home. Later I think about the day and where I’d have to go in the States with a shopping list like this:

Custom hand-made bamboo gazebo – Hmmm
Bat medicine and door – Home Depot, maybe?
Saraswati statue – Hmmm
Unregulated street food – Hmmm

And where could I haggle over the price and tell a man he was handsome so he’d give me a better deal without having to hire a lawyer the next day?

Ah Bali! She’s not for everyone, but I’m in love…still so in love.

 

 

 

 

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 22:44:51

    DELIGHTFUL!!!!!!

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  2. David Hughes
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 23:06:15

    I just love the way you conjure up Bali in my mind as I ride the 16:00 out of Glasgow Central.

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  3. Kate
    Jun 10, 2018 @ 23:40:39

    What a fun read, Sherry! The statue is gorgeous… can’t wait to see what you come up with and how you get to ‘your’ budget and his bottom line 🙂 You are intrepid and living life fully – a delicious combination!! Thank you for sharing with us.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 11, 2018 @ 12:53:01

      I can’t wait to see about that too! But I know she’s out there – the perfect Saraswati for my garden. As for intrepid, I’m not sure how gutsy I am, I just know I couldn’t sit in front of the TV and watch life pass me by!

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  4. ReAnn Scott
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 05:31:44

    Hola! Life for both of us has turned out well. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet again someday – somewhere. Until then, continue living the life you love!

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    Reply

  5. stevecastley
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 07:15:58

    I enjoyed reading your adventure. It is good to be in love… so in love.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Anonymous
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 09:24:45

    Delightful!!!

    Like

    Reply

  7. Julie Shobe
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 11:58:20

    Thank you!

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  8. Gail
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 04:42:47

    Gail – Have to agree – you write so well – have only been to Bali once, but am transported back when reading! And sooo different from the day ahead here.
    Look forward to reading more. Thank you.

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    Reply

  9. Lucy
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 10:45:59

    I can’t wait to while away the day in the comfort of your garden gazebo.

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