From Bali

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Dear All,

A quiet flight, hardly any turbulence, and in a short while you’re in Bali, Indonesia. So often and so long already in this country, it feels like coming home. I have suitcases full of Africa with me but they don’t have to be unpacked although they can stay. Today has its roots in yesterday so why by entering a new day forget about the other? But it has to become a new day. Now it’s Bali, a new day and hopefully a bit longer than that.

For now I live in the guestroom of Frans in Penestanan, close to Ubud. The days fill up quickly. In a very pink pink car over the island – yes, I know what you think; I’ve thought the same – looking for a house. There is a lot on offer but quite some Balinese have dollar or euro signs in their eyes. Many calculations just don’t make sense, it’s like with real estate everywhere; prices have to get lower but the sellers don’t know it yet.

In some places here the prices have quadrupled over the last two or three years and it becomes too expensive. It’s always about leasing, renting the place for a period of 20 or 25 years, because foreigners are not allowed to own real estate. Nevertheless is leasing often considerably more expensive than buying the whole lot… Ubud itself is, according to the travel-guides, a romantic village in which you might think yourself 20 years back in time. If you’re here you won’t recognize it as such. It’s more than full with tourists and consequently with all the facilities that come with mass tourism. More than that actually. Wishes of tourist are not very realistic of course. We want 40 restaurants to choose from, authentic shops with nice affordable and original craft but no colleague tourist in sight. It doesn’t work that way. In Ubud, as in many places in Bali, hotels in every corner, restaurants after every 10 meters, the space in between filled up with shops with useless stuff.

Today I decided to lease a plot of land here in Penestanan, I plan to build a limasan. Originally from Java, a picture is attached. The charm of Bali stays. In these days it’s a sort of Halloween. Galungan (say thanks giving) is over and Kuningan is coming. In between the kids are allowed to go from door to door with music and a barong. The barong, a sort of friendly monster, is for the occasion played by two children; one in the head and one in the tail. The music is loud and very Bali. And yes, they expect something nice and sweet at every doorsill.

Bali; it is – in spite of it’s over-crowdedness in many places – a good place to be. De people are friendly, the weather is nice and nature is like a miracle. The biggest miracle though is probably the Balinese. Practically all of them stayed close to their traditions – a form of Hinduism that makes daily offering obligatory and is the reason for lots and lots of ceremonies. A Balinese is first and foremost part of the community and individual only in second instance. It has up- and it’s downside – maybe the balance tipped over to one side. At the same time…, it won’t hurt to look at my own balance. And before I know I’m back at ubuntu – I am because we are. Well, something from my luggage from Africa I can unpack, can’t I?

Hopefully this will also be a consideration when the elections come up. No exclusion but inclusion and not forgetting the care for each other – wherever in the world possible. Money is important but there is more. 6 billion people for instance and a civilisation we can’t put a price on. I’m hoping for governments with a broader vision than for price tags only. Lucebert, a Dutch poet, already wrote. “Everything of value is defenceless.” If we don’t defend it, it will be gone soon. And who wants to live in a world like that?

I wish you good days and wisdom.

With love

Frank

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