Moments in Bali

Hotel breakfast:

Standing in the queue for a custom made omelette, I strike up a conversation with a well dressed and striking black American lady. I have noticed a large group of females, travelling together, and she is one of them.

I welcome her to Bali, but it appears she has not heard me, she is focussed on her omelette, being prepared by Rini, the famous Omelette Queen, whose omelettes I have been eating at the same time every year for five years. So I say it again, and she glances my way, distracted. She wears an irritated look, as if I have interrupted something important, and she goes back to her omelette watching.

Undeterred, I venture "It's a long way to come from the USA to Bali. Is't it a beautiful place?" But she is not listening, for she is issuing instructions to Rini, and I get the feeling this is an important omelette. Ignoring me, her eyes on the omelette, she announces "We are all world travellers - we travel a lot. We just came from Africa, and are heading back to Egypt and Morocco in a few months." "Oh" I reply, "We are from Africa, but we now live in Australia." She snorts, and says, "Yeah, I figured THAT ..."

Rini is looking at her quizzically, gesturing with her spatula to the important omelette, asking without speaking, "Is this cooked to your liking?" She lets out an exasperated, long sigh, shakes her head, and says "Nooooo!" Rini, ever polite, ever respectful, shoots her eyebrows into her chef's hat in concern, and says "Noooo?"

"No!" echoes the woman, angrily.  "Shall I?" Says Rini, offering to tip it into the bin.  With another long suffering sigh, and with her hands raised in exaggerated self defeat, her voice raised, she spits "No problem!. NO PROBLEM!   I'LL DEAL WITH IT."  A World Hero, dealing with a First World Problem.  And with that, waits whilst Rini transfers this perfect little omelette on to a plate.  She stalks off, without a word.

I want to run after this rude woman and slap her.  Rini is standing there, a humble, hard working and excellent chef, looking crushed and upset. I want to go behind the counter and hug her.  I should have gone behind the counter and hugged her.   I wrote this years ago, and today, Rini and I hug a lot.

"Sorry, Rini" I say. "You are the BEST omelette maker I know.  Thank you." She looks at me, disbelieving. I say, "They are hard to please, yes?" She nods her head, then shakes it in disgust? - indignation? I tell her  "I hope they leave today." She looks at me and smiles.

"One or two egg omelette Ibu?"

And our day continues.

Shopping at Hardy's:

I am wandering through a maze of racks of swimsuits, bikinis and sarongs in the middle of the Hardy's complex. There are hundreds, in all shapes, sizes and colours, and all very reasonably priced. I like to buy my bikini tops and bottoms separately, I have no boobs and often I need a smaller top to the bottom. So I am in bikini heaven.

I spy a leopard skin bikini bottom, and my heart leaps joyfully for this small delight. Animal print! Yes! But it is XXL, and as this is not David Jones, not all the leopard skin bikini bottoms are on the same rack, I spy another couple of pairs, alas, also XXL. Like a leopard on the hunt, my excitement has been piqued, and I keep searching the racks, and find tucked away at the back, a L and a M. This is Bali, so the sizes are always small, I can tell I have hit pay dirt, one of these is going to fit!

I remove them and find a tiny young Balinese shop assistant and ask if I may try them on. "These?" She says, pointing to my bounty. "Yes." Her eyes enlarge. "These?" She says again, looking at them as if they were alive.  I wonder, is there something wrong with these?  "Errr, yes please."  She shrugs and beckons me to a fitting room, which is stiflingly hot and cramped.  I remove my shorts and pull the large pair on over my knickers. In doing so, I realise these are men's bathers, there is the black gauzy pocket in the front to house men's equipment, and I giggle. I pull them on. Not bad, but a trifle bulgy in the front.  I try the medium, it's less bulgy, but it's clearly not a women's bikini bottom.

Disappointed and amused, I walk out and find her. She is looking at me in a questioning way, and I burst out laughing. "These are for MEN!" I say. "Yes!"  She tries to stifle a giggle. "Why didn't you tell me?" I ask.  She covers hr mouth with her hand and aye "I thought they were for your husband!”

I wonder why so many of us are so weird, so rude, so demanding, so disrespectful, so unaware, so strange and often so unkind to the locals in Bali.  She would never dream of pointing that out to me, for many reasons, and her culture is one of extreme politeness and respect, especially for elders, like me.

I laugh out loud and stretch out my arms, and amazingly, she does too, and right there amongst the bathers, we share a hug.