Living on the Edge

Sometimes movement and change happens in the most unexpected ways and times. When you find yourself in that position, as I’ve learned, it’s best to take stock, breathe and dig deep enough that you can’t help but find a glint of humor. DSC_4153

Which has been particularly important for me to keep in mind, given the upheaval that’s taken over my little neck of the woods these past couple of weeks. In point of fact, right here, on home ground.

I moved in. There was a land blessing ceremony on the rice field one patch away from me. Then I came home the next day find piles of offerings placed around my terrace. No explanation, but living here as long as I have,Β  I knew exactly what was coming next.

DSC_4168The next morning, my landlord, his wife, one of the village priests and a few tag-on village women showed up. All garbed in wildly colorful traditional costume. “Sorry, Ibu,” said Made, “we have to borrow your house for awhile.”

Clarification was unnecessary; opposition would have been uncalled for. With all the hustle and bustle, mats being unfurled, furniture moved aside, offerings pDSC_4175laced here and there, I knew precisely of what he spoke.

What to do when Balinese ceremony beckons? Why, join in, of course.

So I donned my sarong and sash and joined them on the terrace. Tidak apa apa, I told him, of course, go ahead.

Yet another mecaru cereDSC_4190mony – this time on home turf. Mecaru happens not only when a piece of land is about to morph into a building site; and not only when a house has been completed; turns out that it’s equally important to hold one when repairs have been made. Even relatively minor ones. Or when, say, cement and stones have been laid doDSC_4184wn. Oh how they love their cement…

Petals, holy water, fruit, cakes, coconut husks exploding, dried stalks smoking, and a priest ringing his bell – the whole shebang.

Under cloudy skies, with a threat of rain still hovering, the show was over in less than one hour.

DSC_4201They cleaned up, offered me leftover fruit and kue (this day, palm-sugar filled cakes) and off they went. I went back to my reading and writing.

Then, over a few days, the trucks of wood and stones started to appear out front. Clued in as I am, I knew it was only a matter of time. I tried to fit in as much reading and research as I could… as if that might delay the inevitable.DSC_4188

Without warning, the hammering, digging, sawing, soldering and welding began. The noise levels escalated. The dust swirled. And I stood at my doorway, gaping, wondering how best to straddle both the frustration and hilarity of my unanticipated predicament.

So now, for all ye inquiring minds: yes I do, indeed live at the edge of one of Ubud’sΒ  much-desired but ever more disappearing rice paddies. But fear not: I also live far-too-close to the edge of a construction site – just one of thousands still sprouting around this little island at the edge of the sea.


  1. I do sympathise with you, Amit. Our little gang was so peaceful when we first rented our house there and then suddenly, building work started and we never got a minutes silence. Drills and cement mixers day in and out. It became a real nuisance but we had to learn to live with it. My biggest bete noir was the burning of plastic and rubbish – smoke is so invasive and Balinese homes are open to the elements so no escaping from that. Are you going to move? or stay put and find your inner buddha? xx

  2. Kinda sad. Asia developing, construction ‘property’ it’s reached us. Have to go and see if there’s anything left in the world that’s remote and somebody’s uncle’s brother’s son won’t build a condo next door to where you are…

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