falling out of the sky


flight-mapPOSTCARD #235: Bali, Indonesia: Twenty past midnight in Delhi, colorless and cold. Headache-bewilderment due to heavy meds; postponed boarding, delay before the story begins, before the catapulted leap up into the night, and a single star seen through my cabin window twinkling above the clouds of pollution. Four hours later down again to Bangkok where it’s six in the morning, stumbling in through security portals and out again then we’re up once more, into the clear blue sky where it’s still the same day. Wonderful to see, slept deeply through the five hour flight and woke only as we were falling out of the sky, down through the rain clouds into Bali.

I hadn’t realized how close we are here to the Land of Oz, where things are so far down-under, most of the rest of the world is up-over when you get down to that latitude. I’ve been to Oz many times (estranged father lived there) and right now I can recognize what this inverted view feels like in Bali. Anyway, I’m here for a short visit, Jiab has an international meeting and I have no part to play except to be he who is introduced in the breakfast room as, this is my husband, handshakes all round. Yes, quite nice really because I get to have a holiday while they’re all working… hooray! Scooting down the long corridors of the hotel and escape for the day.

I thought I’d be able to spend time on the beach, but it’s been raining all morning. So I get to explore craft shops for woodcarvings instead. Beautiful works of art, but then there’s the challenge of Indonesian currency; take a number with a great many zeros and divide it by 13 to get US dollars. I was doing it in my head at first until I suspected I’d given the waiter a $10 tip… generosity, ah well, he was a nice guy after all, but seeing the need to be a bit more accurate, therefore the necessity of using the calculator app, I realized I’d given the waiter $1 after all. Say no more.

More rain in the afternoon so I get to go around seeing the world through the windows of a taxi. Stopping at old temples, the puddles and mud of innumerable visitors splish-splashing like ducks, quack-quacking in the warm rain. Then suddenly, a huge noise of shouting up ahead, what’s going on? It’s a group of Chinese tourists trying to get everyone into their photo in an overly loud spectacle of disregard for their surroundings – so different from the quiet Bali people and the rest of us visiting here. I search for compassion for these survivors of a failed Communist regime. They really don’t know how to be polite… never had to learn.

Into the car again and off we go on the winding road, tarmac like a carpet on the narrow route North through Ubud town. We stop at a coffee place where they sell Luwak coffee produced by way of Asian Palm Civet cats (paradoxus hermaphroditus) who eat the coffee cherries and these pass through the animals’ digestive tract then the beans are collected and processed to make coffee. The woman sales staff calls it poop coffee, lips forming to make a delicate high-pitched plosive sound. We see the civets in their large cages just hanging out, gazing at all the visitors as if we were the ones in cages. The coffee, popular among tourists like me, costs RP 240,000 (US$ 18.00) for 100 grams – over-the-top expensive. I had a cup; it tasted like good coffee to me.

fullsizerender-6Easy going smile-a-lot local people living inside a hologram where visitors from everywhere in the world appear sometimes, pay money for goods and services, then leave. A woman gently chases a mother hen and her cheep-cheep chicks tootling around in the front of the guest house; soft handclap and gentle shooshhh sound, takes her broom and sweeps the smooth stone floor after they’re gone. And I’m in the car watching the breathless ease of her movements with the recognition of small things. All that’s required is to be fair and polite in actions, gentle and quiet in speech.

“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.” [Swami Vivekananda]
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11 thoughts on “falling out of the sky

    • Miriam, it could happen. I follow the path of my diminutive wife who has these important connections in the world. The Great Downunder cannot be ruled out… meanwhile still reading the Presence Process.

  1. Welcome to Bali.. and my current hometown of Ubud! I was a bit concerned when you wrote that you fell from the sky… glad to hear it was a soft landing. Yes, this unstoppable rain has dampened plans and spirits.. but I’m glad to hear you’ve been making the best of it. Enjoy the rest of your visit 😉

    • Ah, how nice! I thought the name Ubud had a familiar ring to it. The falling from the sky was a metaphorical escape from Trump and all the heaviness of that. I have met a few Indonesian friends in NGOs a long time ago. Nice people, a sense of humor…

      • I should have said, if you are able to meet somewhere in Ubud contact me by email: dhammafootsteps @gmail.com
        I’m here until Friday 9 December can travel by taxi.

  2. As usual, the lovely, concise description bringing us to you. We have come to expect this. Have my doubts about the poop coffee, but interesting. Perhaps it is healthy since people are having fecal implants. Lest I bring this discourse down to very low level, I must say how very much I loved the quote. Who is Swami Vivekananda? I would love to read more. I will Google him. Well, Tiramit, may you have a wonderful time there. Enjoyed the photo, too.

    • These decriptions are intended to bring the readers closer and I hadn’t really thought about that until you referred to it here. This must be one of the primary characteristics of blog writing. Yes Vivekanda is one of the much loved spiritual teachers who came to be known in India in the late 19th century and is still read today.
      And the civet cats’ role in the coffee making process is extraordinary but best left unmentioned…

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