All Eyes On The Mountain

Somewhere around 6 o’clock this morning, I was levitating. As in, hovering slightly above my bed. An effect, perhaps, of too many sleep-deprived nights. Moments later, I opened my eyes and realized it was a tremor. Another biggie. They are ever-present these days. Escalating in number.

Mother Nature is calling.

Bali’s holiest mountain and volcano, now largely dormant since its last activation 54 years ago, has been acting up. We have been on high alert. Quakes have become a daily – and nightly – occurrence. Snakes and monkeys are fleeing the slopes, following on the heels of tens of thousands of evacuees, fleeing to villages further afield.

Volcanologists use phrases like “impending eruption,” all but guaranteeing an eventual explosion of immeasurable force. But I have no idea what to expect; I can’t gauge what may unfold in the days / weeks / months ahead. I can only go by what I hear happened in 1963, the “last time…”

Last time, the earth shook for weeks before Agung exploded.

Last time, it sent rocks flying up high into the air, sending ash landed hundreds of kilometers away, in Java.

Last time, more than 1000 people were killed.

Last time, Pura Besakih – Bali’s mother temple on the mountain’s southern incline – was miraculously untouched.

Last time, Google, Facebook and the rest of their co-mediated ilk weren’t even incubating yet.

Now it’s a different story. And my life has become saturated by low-grade unknowing.

Anxiety seeps into the lives of those around me. Apprehension colors daily life. Even if we can’t articulate it. People are on edge. Cranky.

My brain feels split in two.

The days pass. I get things done. Writing. Yoga. Organic market. Bank. Buda Mart. Movies. Dinner with friends. Bills are paid. I visit the Pyramids. I meet with two visa agents – on separate matters. Friends come over to paint.

And yet.

My attention is always just a little veering off-course. The other side of my brain slinks around on websites, Facebook, emails. My electricity bank, my phone, my internet data are all pumped up with more credit than usual. I finally remember to buy that elusive flashlight, with extra batteries. Candles. Lighter. Checking my supplies; stocking up on a few items I wouldn’t normally keep at home: canned beans, more nuts and seeds than I need for regular consumption.

If I want fresh fish, I’m out of luck. The WhatsApp group received this notice today: The bad news is that most of our fishermen have vacated their homes as they live in close proximity to Mt. Agung. The few who have stayed are reporting eerie ‘swellings’ in the ocean and it’s getting increasingly difficult to find fish in the area.

This time? Nobody knows. Which is why we wait. With bated breath. And all eyes are on the mountain.

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9 Comments

  1. I have been extremely slack in my blog reading (blog anything!) Amit but I have thought about you with this volcano business going on. It must be an incredibly anxious time. Please take care.

  2. That sums it up, Amit: this weird netherworld of waiting. Nights are difficult. Sleep is interrupted by tremors, if indeed sleep happens at all. It’s a unique opportunity to observe ones self under unusual conditions and it’s one I’m not relishing overly much! Thanks for posting.

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