Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I set my alarm clock to 6:20am, hoping to catch the 7:00 Early Bird Yoga Class, have a fruit break and then go to the 10:30 Yin Yoga. However I already woke up with the strong sound of rain hitting the roof around 5:30. Hoping that this was just a cloud showering, I tried to get back to sleep but couldn't because the sound was really loud and strong. It kept raining almost until 8:30. During that time, I remembered that this was the beginning of the rainy season in Bali and there would be many more days like this, with increasing frequency and duration of showers. Well, for those days, I don't have plan B. Romanticizing about autumn rains in a hazy Istanbul morning is one thing, but I don't like to be outdoors during these tropical rain showers. I saw that both in Malaysia and Indonesia that life goes on as it is under the rain; bikers wear a raincoat and keep riding, pedestrians just open their umbrellas and keep waiting for their buses etc. Well of course I didn't expect life to go into a total crisis state every time it rained (and I am thankful that it doesn't!) but I am still not at ease with the idea of jumping from one sidewalk which is full of cracks and holes to the other while crazy drivers spray all the rain on me. So as long as there's tropical rains, I plan to spend a lot of time in my room. Ah, that's one of the reasons I still love Dubai; it's hot without the hassle of rain :) (Well even in Dubai there seems to a day of flood every year, and that flood is usually due to only a 20-minute shower but it's a completely different subject which may upset Metro Mo, so I won't go in there now. I don't want my blog to be blocked by Etisalat in the UAE ;) )

The Yin Yoga class was as usual. I couldn't keep the poses during hip-openers as the pain started to make me tremble no matter how much I tried to breathe into it, staying with the present moment. However there seems to be noticeable progress with chest & shoulder openings which I am very happy about.

After the class, I felt like having some Thai food and visited a nearby restaurant. It's one of these “cousine nouvelle” type of Asian restaurant, where the menu had vegan curry, organic red rice etc. By the way, I have noticed that Bali could be the paradise for raw foodists or for vegans; most of the restaurants have dedicated menus for vegetarians/vegans and so far I came across 3 cafes that offer a good selection of raw. But I guess, health conscious also means rich here as these places tend to have at least double the price of regular eateries. Anyways, as I was enjoying my spicy Thai food with tears and a runny nose, one of the staff in the restaurant started talking to me, Tut. He mentioned about the concept of "Takwamasi" which meant something like “me is you, you is me”. As far as I understood, it roughly refers to if I do you good, I also do myself good as all human beings are connected to each other. Seeing me eagerly taking notes as he speaks about religions vs Hindu spirituality, Tut invited me to one of the more comfortable lounge areas where we discussed in length about how fanaticism found its way into religions, while all talked about the oneness and doing good to others in their own ways. Tut's view was that this is related to “doing the religion vs owning the religion”. Since there are established bodies like Vatican that own the religion and try to exert power through it, it seems to have lost the essence that comes just by practicing it... Definitely worth thinking about.

One thing I know for sure is that I admire how Balinese spend a significant time of their days practicing religion through rituals and ceremonies yet do not possess it in an obsessive way. Such detachment is difficult to attain and probably has something to do with also detaching from the ego. He mentioned a little about his life, where he spent the first part with a strictly scientific-oriented mindset, boosted ego and ignoring spirituality. Then he gets sick one day, doctors cannot figure out what's wrong with him and the village healer cures him through prayers, which becomes his turning point into a more spiritual life with traditional values.

I wonder why I spent hours talking to him about all this, then spent even more time organizing these thoughts into writing? Don't know for sure but I guess I try to collect evidence that there's only so much that we can understand by means of our minds. There's much more that can be sensed or felt through emotions and intuition. And I doubt if that part is religion or is it something else?

I actually planned to visit one of the nearby villages in the afternoon, however ended up staying in town due to this long conversation. I walked around in town shooting photos of the Galungan preparation. Here are some catches of the day:

I had a late dinner in a local eatery in my street because I did not feel like walking under the rain which started drizzling again. I walked into the restaurant at the same time with two local women and there was only one table left. I offered to share which turned out to be a great idea, the place was what you may call quasi self-service. You would write down your order and hand out if a waitress passes by, and occasionally go to the kitchen to remind if your order is unreasonably late. It was a busy and lively place, especially with the younger tourist crowd probably because of the dirt-cheap beer and food. My table companions were a young lady from Jakarta who came to volunteer for the Ubud Writers Festival and another lady who owned a reflexology salon. Then one of the local writers, who was featured in the Festival joined our table. His name is Pande Putu Setiawan and his first book of poems was just released. He had meetings that day for the possibility of having it translated to English. He translated 2 of his poems to English on the spot and gave me another one which was already translated & printed. He writes short stories and poems about higher love, universe, beauty etc. I certainly hope he gets what he wants and acquires and international audience.

Looking back, it was a super good day; a more opened heart center, a satisfying discussion over spicy curry, discovering a new massage place, discovering a very lively eatery, shooting some street photos and meeting a young local writer and listening his poems …

Now looking forward to Galungan celebrations Wednesday.

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