Ancestors from the beginning of time

The Balinese go to great efforts to treat their ancestors with utmost respect, as they believe that their spirits, in a very real sense, come back to their homes and the home temples that are a part of each piece of property for a Balinese family.

See #1: Family Temple. The house temple called Sanggah or Merajan, is the place to worship the ancestors and the Hyang Guru.

For more visit here.

The children are very involved in the celebration, as they sing and dance and run to insure that good triumphs over evil.

The penjor is a curved bamboo pole that is decorated with offerings and displayed in the streets of each Balinese village. It’s a significant investment for the village to build and display penjor poles but they are so lovely. The entire island feels lifted up by these skyward, incredible displays.


Week #28 – Bali workers take a break

The Balinese crew went back to their two villages to celebrate Galungan:

The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings.

Read more here

The crew from Java is staying on the property, as they are Muslim and don’t celebrate the Hindu holiday.

So finishing work continues: brick and cement plaster, shower tile, plumbing and electrical, drainage work, and some ceiling work to hide pipes in the kitchen & dining room:


Have you found Paradise?

Have you ever had a particular moment in an extraordinary location where space and time were forgotten? Or are you seeking such a thing for the first time? In any case, the concept of a paradise is an elusive one, and here in Bali the word gets thrown around quite a bit. So let’s investigate.

When you first learn of Bali you may have read or heard of it as an Island of the Gods. Indeed, there are Balinese temples not just in every village, but in every home too. There are even micro-temples in Balinese shops and warungs (cafes). In addition there are daily offerings to the gods that inhabit each and every corner of this sometimes other-worldly island. Why? Because these gods are very powerful! They need paying attention to, requiring ongoing devotion.

But can an Island of the Gods be a paradise? Is it relevant if the gods aren’t your gods? Or if you don’t believe in any gods?

I think the relevance is this: when you visit Bali you can interact with people who have embraced other values than material goods. The ceremonies and offerings are constant reminders of the limits of the material world.

Like the old saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.”

And so if Bali doesn’t quite live up to your vision of paradise, at least you can be in a place where most if not all of the people aren’t taking advantage of your tourist status in order to rip you off.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd


Thanks to NOW! Bali for the photos. Follow their Instagram here

Continue reading “Have you found Paradise?”

Week #23 — More brick walls, plaster, and form work

There are now a total of four teams that are working daily on the project:

  • Construction crew
  • MEP crew (mechanical, electrical & plumbing)
  • Brick & plaster crew
  • Windows and doors

I am not even certain of the number of people altogether, since I haven’t visited the window and door manufacturer (as usual in Bali the products are custom made). My builder arranged for the quote.

In about five days the final pouring of the residential side of the building will take place, as well as the mezzanine level of the two upstairs guest units. Then a final pour for the guest roof and we will be in great shape!


A Drop of Kindness, a Well of Gratitude

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” — Scott Adams

I’m becoming more convinced each day that the real benefit of travel, or expat living, or even tourism (although it’s a challenge to slow down enough as a tourist) — is the small everyday kindnesses shared among people who essentially are strangers.

In the following example, we have recently become friends (but only days ago — strangers) with our housekeeper. Kadeh is a young Balinese woman who cleans the four rooms where we rent. She is diligent and friendly and a genuinely lovely person. She also gets paid below the standard wage, from a Balinese owner, and her husband has to work in a town that’s too far away from their home. Fortunately her two kids are taken care of by her extended family and village and so Kadeh can see her children at the end of each day. She also, like many workers in Bali, works six days a week.

Photo: the author, his wife Shelly, and Kadeh, our new friend

One day Kadeh was talking with Shelly and somehow during the conversation Kadeh mentioned that she hasn’t gone shopping in ages. She neither has the extra time nor the money. And so I asked Shelly if she would take Kadeh shopping. After she chose one item (a blouse) for about 55,000 rupiah ($3.78 USD) Kadeh said she was done. Shelly said to pick another item. Then Shelly, with some convincing, helped Kadeh pick a third item (a total for the three items of $10 or $11 USD). At that point Kadeh became emotional and said it was too much. We were being too generous.

Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit. — Robert J. Furey

The next morning Kadeh thanked me and cried. We hugged and I mentioned that I was happy to help out.

Shelly and I have done some other, modest giving to the workers on our building project and the reaction is the same: a tremendous amount of gratitude for what, to most foreigners, is a very small amount of money.

The reality is that when you spend time in a developing country you realize that the majority of the world lives very modestly, and for the most part, happily. To participate in it, to get some joy from it, to change yourself a bit, reach out with a warm smile. See the other as an equal, in the sense that we are on the same planet, orbiting a blazingly hot sun in a terrifyingly cold universe. The stranger handing you your lovely beverage at the boutique cafe most likely cannot buy one for herself.

You don’t have to do much. Just be a small drop and let the ripple flow.