From the moment I heard it would be auctioned I knew; that one is mine. I hardly ever buy things for myself anyway. Everything anonymous of course, I’m not crazy. I could hear the outcries already; ‘Can’t you spend that money more wisely, how with inequality and poverty in the world, what does the guy that found it get out of it?’ Well, I have shares in that shop and believe me; this is good for all of us. It’s safe in my nightstand now, unfortunately one can’t go to the supermarket with it. Alone, at night under the blankets, I put it on and with my little flashlight I can see 55 million euro of glitter and shine, it looks like Xmas. It’s beautiful; to bring light into darkness, the money is well spent. The Pink Star, 59,6 carat of diamond, is mine.
What? “What a coincidence it’s pink…”
Rain in Bali, the rainy season has started, it’s rains cats and dogs all day now and that’s not the first time. The harvesting of the rice from the sawah in front of my house is done and I hope that the rats won’t be looking for a new home. Those that died last time so tragically maybe forgot to inform their colleagues about the dangers. Now the ducks are let loose in the sawah, a funny sight and their sounds are a joy. At night it’s the frogs, there must be thousands of them, who make their noise. A good thing in fact, that way I don’t hear the beep that’s been in my ear for the last few weeks now. On the wall, next to my desk, sits a little frog with an enormous voice. Hilum? It’s not afraid, it looks at me with its round eyes and croaks again. For fifteen minutes or more I’m looking at it, fascinated. ‘Just evolution’. Yeah, I guess so, but it’s a miracle anyway.
With some foul play my garden does amazingly well. I bought a few flowering trees and that works great. I’m a gardener like my father – good intentions, hardly any insight, aiming for quick results – hereditary in charge. Or blessed by heredity of course. With the tourist season a bit over the roads are less full than before although, still good for sweaty moments. A Balinese buys his drivers license and has a highly developed ability to not see what he doesn’t want to see. What more do you want to know? Last week a visit to the hospital in Denpasar and I was, for more than one reason, happy to be home safe again. Kasih Ibu is the name of the hospital, it means mother love. Love not that strong really, a lot of money was involved. Not for the average Balinese thus, but it’s a good hospital. The worrying scenarios from the little clinic in Ubud were thrown aside; all is fine. Heart, longs, kidneys and some other parts were checked, all perfect. ‘A fine condition for 51 years of age’ the specialist said. ‘I’m 61.’ ‘Oh, oh yes, I see. Well, it’s fine!’ Friendly specialist makes a mistake(?), patient happy nevertheless. He studied in the Netherlands. ‘Nice country, warm people, hospitable, open…’ I wonder how the foreign students of today think about that.
At the dentist, another of those fancy places with pretty girls behind the counter, soft music and something to drink if you have to wait, some magazines lay on the table. I have to wait a bit and have a look at one. A fat glossy, completely filled with articles and adds about what there is in Bali in terms of expensive and exclusive. It’s a lot, an awful lot. Especially in the south, around Kuta, there must be restaurants, that try to outdo each other in price and exclusivity, on every street-corner. I wait for those that will serve tongues of larks, or koala-ears. Special too. I read about spa’s that grind real pearls and gold to mix in their ointments, offer facelifts and lifts for any other possible body-part, that inject botox wherever you’d like them to. Become ten or fifteen years younger, in two or three treatments. (Quite in line with the website of someone I know from South Africa. Her site claims that getting older is just an illness, no need to suffer from it as long as you swallow her little supplements.) Adds for hotels where they’ve tried to mask a lack of taste by spending a lot of money, for shops with bling and glitter jewellery that suits a prince carnival. Because they are ‘the real stuff’, the lady can wear them. You can leave the price tag on please.
These are the excesses, fortunately. It is sad, in the first place for those that ‘need’ it. Still, I wonder in how far this sort of behaviour brings the world closer to the edge. Dancing on a volcano. To see oneself in proportion, as a part of it all, seems to be difficult but it’s the only way to function. During APEC, when heads of state and dignitaries were flown in, kiting was forbidden in Bali. Too dangerous for air traffic. The rest of the year it’s not a problem.
Bali changes. On a website I read ‘in Ubud you think yourself in a world of twenty years ago’, Sanur is described as a quiet village, Kuta a little hamlet on the coast. It’s actually not possible but the only explanation is that that particular website hasn’t been updated for the last thirty years. Of course most tourist do not frequent the places I described above but the balance in life here is disturbed nevertheless. Tourists have always been privileged. That was already so in the fifties, in coastal areas in the Netherlands where people would live in a shack during summer in order to rent out their house to German tourists. Tourists bring in money, work and, at its best, another view to the world; maybe even the start of brotherhood. In this part of Bali tourists have taken over the shop. Balinese do the work, tourism is the boss. Ceremonies in the meantime are getting more in number and in elaborateness. Ibu Putu from the little restaurant confirmed it (again) tonight. ‘Yes, we’re doing a better job on that now.’ The why she couldn’t explain well. ‘We just do.’ Frans sees a possible connection between those ceremonies and tourism. He has a point I think. A lot of new but also a lot of incomprehensible comes towards people. A lot of things are attractive, although often with a ‘price’ that is not feasible or unwanted. Life changes quicker than ever and is often confusing, the priests see their grip diminish. Escape into the well known and trying to get things back in place again is a logical reaction that, alass, will work counterproductive. How it should be? A sign with ‘only respectful tourists’ on the border?
I just had a nice gado gado at Ibu Putu. No, there is no background music, you can’t lounge there, she doesn’t accept credit cards and diet coke or cocktails she doesn’t do. No happy hour, but happy all the time. She sits on your table and chat, you won’t go home hungry. They don’t know what they miss; those guys in those moneyjoints.