Friday, October 06, 2006

Leaving Paradise heading to Paradise

Blog#6 Leaving one Paradise heading to another Paradise!
This will be the last from Indonesia. I’m heading home, Whoopee! It’s been a great three months, learned heaps, enjoyed more than that, and keen to get back to family and friends in NZ.

This last week has been full of the literary world. I attended four workshops at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, many interesting cross cultural events as the festival theme was a Balinese term called “Desa Kala Patra” or in English “Place Time Identity”.
This was explored in many Discussions, Debates and at the two main venues. There was also a free children’s programme with hands on workshops in many subjects, shame I didn’t qualify as a child!

My first workshop “Travel Journalism Intensive” held beside the rice fields in an open sided building, had the amazing backdrop and sounds of local women harvesting rice, threshing it by hand, over the length of the workshop (3hrs) they moved 50 yards of growing rice field into several bags of rice, finally carting it way on their heads.

We had just remarked what other writers festival would have this happening in the back ground, when the icing on the cake came in the form a flock of geese herded into the field to gobble up the remaining leftover scraps. The other workshops were no less interesting but without the backdrop. The blend of poetry, & writing, both local and international Poets and Authors forums, made for very stimulating discussions.

In these final few days in Bali I reflect on what an amazing place this is, the climate, warm and lush, so like the people. The foods, cheap healthy and spicy. The Arts in Music/Dance/Painting and other arts and crafts are all very vibrant having the softness, shapes and intense colours of the tropical flowers that abound everywhere in Bali. Staying most of the time in and around Ubud surrounded by the rice fields I have seen the complete rice growing cycle.

Preparing the land, planting, tending the crop, fertilizing, spraying, bird scaring and harvesting all happens in a three month rotation, Bali virtually has no seasons, therefore, rice planting can be happening at the same time as harvesting, and leaves and flowers can fall from the trees at anytime of the year!

The Balinese people are friendly to an extreme, hard working, dedicated to their culture and beliefs. I think of the Nike slogan “Just Do It” as this sums up for me in this westerner (European) outsider’s eyes their lack of an over structured lifestyle. If you want to make a new path to your home, just do it, if you want to cut down that banana palm, to feed your cattle or pigs, just do it. They bless their surroundings on a regular basis, they collect flowers from the roadside trees, they are constantly doing something with their hands, they seem to add grace to simple things like sweeping the pathways, cleaning up their immediate surroundings.

They have strong ties to Religion and Culture. Beauty appreciation, laughing, massage and family all seem important to them! This is a simple lifestyle, they notice the simple things, they are connected to nature, they carry rough bundles of firewood or plant matter on their heads for considerable distances. I notice how wide the Balinese foot is from a life of not wearing shoes. Their lifestyle does not appear to have an over accumulation of technology, like computers, radios, cars, microwaves, washing machines, dishwashers and other westerner’s essentials. Yes some of them have cell phones. Not once have I seen the blaring light of a TV screen in any house as I walk home. I meet the locals sitting in the dark on my little path way home, talking, and passing the time! Life is more and less here! Choose you own definition, what are the real values of life?

These are the experiences, thoughts and questions I’ll be reflecting on as I head back to rural life in New Zealand on a Singapore Airlines flight at an altitude of 19.000feet

Blessings Peace Namaste