The earlier parts in the Bali Journal:
- Equator Lollipops
- Aimless wanderings
- Kecak dance
- The Barong play
- Kopi luwak
If you have been in Bali for even a few days and have been asking people their names, there is something curious you will notice. The names Wayang, Made, Nyoman and Ketut seem to be repeating themselves endlessly. The mystery was cleared up when someone was kind enough to explain to us the intricacies of Balinese naming. Well it is quite simple actually: all Balinese name their first child Wayang, the second as Made (pronounced Ma-dey), the third as Nyoman and the fourth as Ketut.
Smart people, I say. With their unique way they have simplified the issue of naming children. Imagine the hours parents of newborns spend trying to decide on a name for their offspring. With grandparents, friends and sundry relatives, sometimes strangers too, trying to be unhelpful with suggestions, homing in on a single accepted name turns into a totally difficult proposition. MILs use the opportunity for power games, wanting to show DILs who the real boss is. But no such calamity arises in a Balinese household. The accident of birth order decides what a child’s name will be. (Read about what else plays a role in Balinese naming here)
Now that naturally brought up the question of what happens when there is a fifth child, and a sixth, a seventh…. It seems the Balinese simply start all over again. So the fifth child becomes Wayan, the sixth Made and so on. Imagine a huge family of a dozen or so children?! There will be up to three children with the same name in that household, not to mention Uncles, Aunts, Father, Mother, Grandparents, neighbours, friends who will all be, a Wayan, a Made, a Nyoman or a Ketut too. Cool, huh? Oh, by the way, according to the Balinese way of naming I am Wayan. What about you all? What’s YOUR Balinese name? Do tell me in your comments.
The last day of our holiday started as usual with a sumptuous breakfast at Batu Kali. Our destination for the day was Tanjung (Cape) Benoa. Before tourism took over, Benoa used to be just a fishing village. Now it is a place for all sorts of water sports: water-skiing, banana-boat rides, fishing, snorkeling paragliding, scuba diving, you name it, they have it. None of us oldies were fit enough for the water sports. So we gave it all a go by and decided on a boat trip to the nearby Turtle Island.
Waiting for the BIL and sis to make an appearance after keeping away valuables in a locker, strike me pink if I did not hear someone humming, “Tum paas aaye” from the Shahrukh Khan-starrer Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It was the supervisor in charge of the place. Of course, he said in answer to my query, who in Bali does not know the song?! In the hours to come this was once again brought home to us pretty forcefully.
Anyways, off we went in a glass bottom boat to the Turtle Island. There weren’t too many fish to see. And frankly, the Turtle Farm was nothing to write home about either. They had a few turtles in a pen which the tourists could feed and hold for pictures. There were a few other animals and birds, not too happy ones at that I felt. But what made up for all this was the young man who acted as our guide. He was an authority on, you guessed it, Bollywood movies and, especially the blockbuster, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
“Kajol!” he called out to me, walking ahead. “Come here, Kajol!” Excuse me. WHAT was that? Surely he was not addressing me, was he? “Yes, you, Kajol, come here. Hold this turtle!” he ordered with a straight face. Cheeky, if you please and funny, and also a chatterbox to boot, that’s what our guide was. For the duration of our visit, he insisted on addressing me as Kajol and my sis as Preity Zinta. Not that we resembled the actors in any way. It was just his way of having some fun at our expense. He made us laugh quite a lot with his cheeky humor the whole time we were on the island.
He tried to persuade me to hold a turtle. I had watched my sis and BIL hold one in turns and even clicked their pictures. That was enough for me. But now all of them insisted that I hold a turtle as well. Can you believe it, when I took the very same one in my hands, it started flapping its legs and beating me! I almost expected it to turn around and bite me, so annoyed did it seem as it frantically waved its legs. Why me? What did I do? I wanted to wail to the turtle. After having a good laugh at my expense, Wayan (yeah, he being a first born and all) came and rescued the turtle before I dropped it on the ground and posed for a photo.
There was iguana, snake, bat etc at the place that tourists could handle if they so wished. Catch me going anywhere near an iguana or snake. The brave BIL held an iguana and the sis a bat. All I chose to do was to go into the hornbill’s enclosure and say hello from a reasonably safe distance. That was it. There were some sad looking lovebirds. There was nothing more to Turtle Farm. But the view of the sea and sky on your ride to and from Benoa and the beach itself made up for all else.
We had given ourselves over to Arjun, our driver, to decide where to go. We found ourselves next in a place where there were two churches (Catholic and Protestant), a mosque, Buddhist and Hindu temples in a row. Five places of worship of different faiths. It seemed incredible. I know there are a lot of places where temple and mosque or church exist cheek by jowl and that is probably by accident. But here all the places of worship seem to have been built with the objective of having them together, side by side, in a row. The architecture was also interesting, especially that of the mosque, so different from what you normally expect.
Here are the pictures of the day made into a video on youtube.
It was a really warm day. The sun was too bright and hot. We longed to get back indoors. Since it was lunch time, we made for Sri Gangga restaurant near Jimbaran bay, famous for its seafood, the place we had given the go by the first day of our visit because we weren’t hungry enough. In the video posted above, you will find pictures of the drinks we had, the soup even, but none of the main course. It was too yummy that it made its way into our tummies before thoughts of clicking it could enter the head.
Just as we finished our lunch, the three men band arrived and sang a song for us. Then they asked us where we were from. Oh India? Yeah, yeah! India! And guess what followed? They started singing the all time Bali favourite, Tum paas aaye from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Thankfully, I remembered my camera then and recorded it. That’s my sister you will see dancing and if you hear someone singing off-key towards the end that would be yours truly.
Our evening was spent walking the streets and soaking up the feel of the place for the last time. We also watched a fire dance performance at a restaurant and had dinner at a small place nearby. All good things have to come to an end. So did our holiday. The next morning we took the Air Asia flight out of Bali.
Do I wish to go back to Bali? The answer is an emphatic YES. It is a beautiful place. There is much more to see and enjoy. I’d definitely like to go back some day and soak in more of its ambiance.