Setting sail Down Under, into a new year

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The Bali of my imagination was there in the people, sweet and gracious and quiet and affectionate. Every hotel worker was also a craftsman of some kind. Our taxi driver was also a wood carver. The gardener was also a painter. Traditional Bali is also apparent in the presence of Hindu rituals in everyday life. The island, which is more than 95 percent Hindu, is different from the rest of Indonesia. Offerings are left to the gods in shrines set out in the paddies, but also on small plates in front of every store and on the hood of the car and on the doorstep of our villa.

The last day, Suri took me on a trek in the rice paddies. We talked about his life. He said his father, a rice farmer, is very old (my age) and can’t work anymore, so Suri and his wife work at the hotel and also work the rice field. His father minds the kids — twin boys — when they aren’t in school.

“I have a very good life,” he said. “As the oldest son, I live in my village just over there with my parents. For always, on Sundays the whole village would go to the river and we would wash our clothes and our uniforms for school.” He frowned. “Now there are washing machines in the village. My sons don’t know how to wash their clothes.”

I commiserated.

He went on, “I give them money for books but they just go to the Internet cafe and spend it on video games.”

We stood together in the rice paddies and watched a way of life passing by.

Copyright © 2013 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at

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