Monday, July 31, 2006

Seraya Fast Lane

Sometimes I miss Hong Kong. The buzz, the cool stuff to see and do, the nearly year-round hiking, finding old pots in village rubbish heaps, swimming laps in the big pool, walking, walking, cheongsams, tailors, ferries, friends, exhibitions at John Batten gallery, basso profundo frog talk on rainy nights, Singapore noodles, ten dollar wonton soup, Freddy, big rocks sticking out of hillsides, dancing to a good band at the Wanch, the skyline, grabbing a drink with friends before heading out to a movie or concert.

I just had a lengthy couple of conversations with HKU prof Paul Smethurst. I took two of his courses at HKU, and, although I hate postmodernism, he made me really understand it. In fact, we probably don't even see eye to eye on any number of scholarly topics, but he never gave me a bad grade. A prof who's a teacher, not a politician. And that's pretty cool!

Paul gives me props for telling him, "you're not getting any younger" back in 2000, when I first bought the Bali land. This made some impact on him, for he followed on down to Bali and got himself a nice little villa north of Seminyak. He's got something going up in the mountains, now, too. Wow! Dude loves his real estate!

So it got me thinking, as I'm telling Paul all about how I miss HK. But I have to admit that Bali has its own buzz. It's just a mellower buzz.

I certainly do my share of entertaining, here in the Shack. I had a few good friends down to celebrate the fact that it's a short snort to points west and south, now, thanks to the new bypass. What was going to be my big blowout party ended up being a little dinner. Big party must come later, when my friends are not suffering from Morning Sickness, broken cars, and other regrets.

But, yeah, I give a party here and the band plays or the girls dance, or both. Sure as hell didn't do that in either of our tiny apartments in Hongkers.

While I miss some of the really good rock bands of the bars of HK, I do get to got to the Denpasar arts festival and hear fusion bands (what that means is a synth, guitar, and drum set backing gong kebyar... but it can be very cool). I may not be able to strut around in a form fitted cheongsam here in Bali, but I do get to wear some nice Javanese sarongs. Laps in the pool... hell yeah, and the pool is all to myself now. Okay, the walking and hiking... there's the rub. Near equatorial sun makes hiking difficult. Here in Bali, you pretty much have to choose a mountain area, dawn hours, or (rare) shaded paths. The Bugbug hill is suitable for afternoon hiking because of the shade, but I do neighborhood walks in the dawn.

Okay, now my life has all this new stuff in it: teaching my cook new dishes, recipes, menus; doing Buteyko breathing exercises to minimize my sinus problems, yelling at the TV news (Israeli army & politicians get my loudest insults), working on my novel (which will undoubtedly make me a small fortune in royalties), and cleaning up the clippings and piles of crap. Bonus time is devoted to helping the schools around here (latest project is getting Pusat Pendidikan Lingkunan Hidup out here to teach the kids the basics of environmental health). We gotta get in the basics, like trash management, English, and reading. So libraries are my other favorite project. I am also working on the girls in the village, one at a time, to stay in school and not just get pregnant at age 15. It is all slow going, but Seraya will benefit. I help the Ubud Writers Festival with promotional materials. That is great fun for readers here, when all of our writers come and dazzle us each October, but the not-so-hidden agenda is the Saraswati Foundation, which helps kids learn, and they benefit from the festival.

Basically I've moved on from getting my kids through school to getting other kids through school. The world is a delicate place and it's wonderful to see how working delicately moves mountains. Too many people are overwhelmed by poverty and cruelty, and they won't do even one thing.

More on that in a moment.

So nice to sit here on the computer and listen to my husband mix the tracks of the traditional and not-so-traditional music and chanting of Dewa Balian. It will be a lovely CD when it's done.

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