Friday, July 17, 2015

A VISIT TO BALI , INDONESIA (PART 1)


                                                                             
                                    ( Tanah Lot Temple on a sea shore in Bali Indonesia )
                                      ( Evening time religious  dance at Tanah lot  Tempe )
                                                     ( Donation Box at Tanah Lot)

                                                      ( waiting for Sun set At Tanah Lot )
                ( A dance drama based on Ramayana performed in a Theatre in Bali )
                             ( A dance drama based on Mahabharata performed in Theatre In Bali )


A VISIT TO   BALI ( INDONESIA )
We are inside an orderly and spacious Retail outlet on crowded KUTA Beach in Bali ( Indonesia ) looking for some cosmetics and medicines . It is 3 PM and as such a lean time slot for the employees . Very soon crowds are expected to arrive at the beach and make the employees of these Beach shops very busy and hectic. As we start moving to the cosmetic section ,Paanchaali ( A sanskrit name meaning princess . Draupadi of Mahabharata was also known as Paanchaali ) The sales girl welcomes us with a smile . The cash counter of this store is managed by Iyun Ahmed while Nirmala , a Balinese girl is at the gate ushering customers in .
                                                                       
                                               ( Tourists at Kuta Beach Bali )
                                                               ( Kuta Beach Bali )
                                                        ( Kuta Beach Bali )
                                                           ( Kuta Beach Bali )
                        
I come to know that Iyun Ahmed is from Java while both the girls are from UBUD district in Bali . I am informed that Customers from Australia , China , Korea , Japan, Malaysia , Thailand , Phillipines and many European countries visit the shop for Liquor , Groceries , Cosmetics, Toiletries , Perfumes , Sun Creams , ,Chocolates, Juices and medicines . Everything under one roof. No separate Permit  or licence for selling Liquor or medicines.
“ Sir You from India “
“Yes “
“ And she go your wife “
“Yes “
 “ . I also  married .Madam you Ehindu ( Hindu ) ? Your Husband Ehindu ?
“ Yes “
“ Oh , That Good. Namaste “
“ Namaste “
While my wife engages Paanchaali to show her some Cologne and fried Peanuts , I talk to Iyun Ahmed . He is a high school dropout and a sales man at the store . The moment I talk about Shahrukh khan , he smiles and opens up ..
“ My liking . He Popular In Bali and all Indonesia . Bahasha Indonesia Dubbing movies where he act .”
“ Iyun , You married ? “
“ No sir , I two sisters . They good studying. One want go doctor and other want pilot. I send more than half salary back home. My father die . He imam. “
“ That is so sad . So good to know that you are live to your family responsibilities“
“Yes sir . My father give me some good lesson for my life. He say all people good if you good. He say “ Iyun , Never think other religion Bad “. He say honest people no show off religion. God look above who honest and silent and who dishonest and show off. I work hard for my family . I see my sisters settle . Allah settle me later . But first my duty go my sisters studies and settling. “
“ Are you on a fast today ?”
“ How you knowing Sir ? Yes , Ramadhaan fasting . “
“ What you take for Iftaar “
“ That packet dates and water . Father always say dates and water best for break Ramadhaan fast. Many go for group fast break at Al Muhajirin Mosque at Kepaon South Denpasar . There people go JUZ ( Recitation of parts of Holy quran ) every night after evening prayers. “

“ Iyun have you heard about a place called kashmir ? “

“ No sir . India I like go . Taj Mahal , Shahrukh Khan, Rithik Roshan I like seeing Bombay ( Mumbai ). Many tourists saying good good things . I like Indian food . Curries and spice. Allah know when time come for that . “

Nirmala , who had been silent uptil now , joins..

“ Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka chopra , Salman Khan and Aamir khan . I liking .Many go Craze for Indian Film in Bali. Sir we seeing Dubbing movies . No people understand Ehindi ( Hindi ) here Bali.”

We buy one Pierre Cardin Deodorant and a shaving Gel . I am billed for 142000 Indonesian Rupaiah . It is somewhat equivalent to 700 Indian rupees . I ask for a newspaper . Iyun hands over JAKARTA POST to me . He informs that it is published in English and Bahasha Indonesia . I ask for some curd or something equivalent.
“ No Sir . We not sell. I know what Curd you mean . No foreign tourist say ‘ Give me Curd ‘ . We selling what people asking .Only people from India asking Curd . We say big No . You buy curd “ Queens Tandoor Hotel “ . Good Indian food and Curd , Chapaati , rice and Daal and spice vegetable. ”
I badly miss my daily Curd requirement in Bali. No one sells Milk or Curd in Bali. No Dairy shops .Could not locate any Dairy farm. No lassi . No curd. No milk. You get condensed milk and Nestle’s ( Indonesia ) powdered Milk Used for Baby Feeds .No sweets or Mithaai . Yes shops and stores loaded with delicious Milk chocolates made in Indonesia. And Had not sandeep Mota put some Ready to eat Tetrapacks of Indian cooked vegetbles /curries , Haldiram mixtures and dry fruit packs , things would have been a little diffiicult for us in Bali . Indian Food apart , you get plenty of seasonal fruits In Bali . We ate Gedang ( Papaya ), Poh (Mango ), Biu ( Banana ) Salak (Snake skin fruit) and oranges. Oranges we bought directly from an orchard near Kintamani Volcano . Not so sweet like our Nagpur variety yet they were being packed for Jakarta Market .
Four Indian Restaurants ( owned by Puneet Malhotra ) , one near UBUD PALACE in upper Bali and the other on Fashionable KUTA BEACH ROAD and two more in NUSA DUA and SEMINYAK  serve excellent Indian  food. The rates appear a little  expensive but the food is genuine and tasty. We ( two persons ) spent  approximately 3,50,000 Indonesian Rupaiah ( Approx 1750 rupees ) for a simple one time  good Vegetarian meal at this shop in UBUD . That amount excludes the TAKSI ( That is how Balinese pronounce a Taxi ) charges of about 150000 IDR to and fro from our Hotel . On an aggregate , Two vegetarian meals cost us 1000000 IDRs or 5000 indian rupees approximately. We exchanged our dollors for Indonesian Rupiah ; Dollors that I had bought for 65 Indian rupees each . Paying directly in dollors confuses you with regard to intrinsic value of the service or commodity . And One US dollor is about 13000 to 13500 Indonesian Rupiah. Too many shops and vendors exchange currency . You need to check up for the best rate .
Bargaining is a way of life for a traveller over here .You need to bargain for reasonable taxi fare . Too much of bargaining . But one Fundamental idea be kept in mind as to what it would cost you in India. That is your bargaining base .
Petrol supplied by State owned PERTAMINA INDONESIA is cheaper . Something around 38 indian rupees a litre .
With family , you can hardly go for the available sea food , Prawns , Thai and chinese delicacies or all those vegetables boiled with herbs . For Indians, who are used to Vegetarian , spicy , hot and oily foods , Bali offers limited options . Even non vegetarians may not get what they would like to have . No kebabs , No Tandoori Chicken , No Fried fish , No Keema or Mutton or Biryaani. But yes you get fresh NASI ( steamed rice) at every place and nice and cirspy finger ships ( Oluv churma in kashmiri ). Chicken is not cooked in Indian style . Looks simple boiled without the usual Indian spices . SATTE an equivalent of roasted chicken tikka is also available at some shops and eatries but most commonly sold by vendors on beaches .
                                                                        
                                                 (  UBUD PALACE )

                                                         ( UBUD MARKET )
                                                                        

                                                 ( Inside UBUD PALACE )
                                               ( Inside UBUD PALACE )
                                           ( UBUD MARKET )
                                         ( UBUD MARKET )

                                                 ( UBUD MARKET )
We stay in UBUD outskirts. The Hotel is about 5 kms from the main market. UBUD is Hilly , cool and a little away from the beaches and crowds . But then you find every person on the road is a Foreigner . I am informed that Bali has a floating population 3 to 3.50 lakh foreigners at any point of time who happen to be tourists . While you move through main UBUD market , you face so many Tourists . They are on  roads , inside shops , sitting in cafes , enjoying street food and bargaining with roadside Vendors selling cheap Art and craft . I saw them driving rented motorbikes and playing football with locals . You also come across young and smartly dressed Girls who sit outside the shops or walk on pavements . Looking at tourists they open up....
“ Sir Massage ! Welcome ! Here Tantra Massage! You liking Total Body massage ! Herbal oil massage ! Welcome ……..”
They walk behind you some steps and turn back only once they feel sure about your disinterest .
I am reminded of some poets who touched this subject. Urdu Poet kumar Paashi saw unhappiness visible in Saugandhi (a character that Sadat Hasan Manto created for his story HATAK) inspite of her attractive and dressed up appearance. kumar Paashi wrote..
“ Ikk mausam mere Dil ke andher ,
Ikk mausam mere Baahar ,
Ikk rastaa mere peechhe Bhaage ,
Ikk Rastaa Mere Aagay
Rastey beech mein khadee akeli ,
Piyaa na sang saheli ,
Kyaa jaane mujh janam jalee ne ,
Kyaa apraadh kiyaa hai ,
Aakhir kyon Duniyaa kaa maine saara zehar Piya hai ,
Mere saath zamaane tuune
Achhaa nahin kiyaa hai ”

Bengali Rebel Poet Kazi Nazul Islam believed that Poverty tends to tear apart all cover ups to declare its nakedness. According to him , It unclothes your disposition should you try to conceal and hide it .I quote select lines from his Bengali poem DARIDRO ( POVERTY ) ..
“O poverty, thou hast made me great.
Thou hast made me honoured like Christ
With his crown of thorns. Thou hast given me
Courage to reveal all. To thee I owe
My insolent, naked eyes and sharp tongue.
Thy curse has turned my violin to a sword.
Thou seekest the unashamed revelation of stark nakedness.
Thou knowest no timid hesitation or polite embarrassment
Thou dost raise high the lowly head.
At thy signal the travellers on the road to death
Put round their neck the fatal noose
With cheerful smile on their faces!
Nursing the fire of perennial want in their bosom
They worship the god of death in fiendish glee !
Thou tramplest the crown of Lakshmi
Under thy feet. What tune
Dost thou want to wiring
Out of her violin? At thy touch
the music turns into cries of anguish!
( English Translation by Kabir Chowdhary )

These  Massage Parlours have also mushroomed along KUTA Beach and other places thronged by foreign Tourists . Our driver tells us that these girls come from Poor families and are ultimately sucked into this   shady activity . They are from Java , Bali and other places in and around Indonesia . He also informs us that a few Genuinely trained persons are also available  in this Massage Business. And according to him, very few people come to Bali for what was previously known as body healing Massage. It is all fun and pleasure now, he adds ...

And looking at these massage parlours , I felt  urdu poet sahir Ludhainavi was right when he said ..

“ Madad Chaahati Hai Ye Hawaa ki Beti
Yashoda Ki hamjins Raadha ki beti
Payambar ki ummat zulekha ki beti
Sana-khwaan Taqdeese Mashriq Kahaan hain ? ”

In UBUD market , you feel surprised to see how swiftly and suddenly a taxi Driver gets up from the shop front or footpath to show you a placard .
“ TAKSI “
       or 
 “ TAKSI . NO BARGAINING “

And bargaining you must. For tourists , Taxi drivers generally multiply normal taxi fares two to three times .    It is your skill how best you divide the quoted fares and strike a reasonable  Bargain .

One can feel that most of the foreign tourists come to Bali for its Night life, Spas, White Water Rafting , Sea food , Parasailing , Snorkeling , Sea Walking , Jet ski , scuba diving , Bicycling and last but not the least the “ MASSAGE PARLOURS “ .
 I may clarify that  Bali has enough to showcase other than this . I am impressed by the beautiful PURA ( Temple) Architecture , wood carving , Stone sculptures , Art Museums , lakes , springs , waterfalls , Batik Paintings , Gold and Silver crafts ,Clean Beaches ( Kuta , Lovina , Dreamland and Pandova ) , Sunrise and sunsets views from its golden beaches , Dances ( Barong and kecak ) , food , the fantastic Gamelan ensemble music , River Rafting , Indian ocean Cruises, wild animal parks and Bird sanctuaries , Scenic Rice terraces of Ubud , Coffee and tea gardens and the attractive exclusiveness of Balinese culture . Balinese people live in joint families . They respect their elders and the society is almost crime free. So many attractions . All Genuine and pure . No Beggars . Not one did I see any where . And for Indians , Bali is simple Visa on arrival. Carry your passport , Medical insurance and Air tickets and Just pay US dollars 35 per person and enter .

I am also impressed by the family orientation of Balinese women in General. They work in offices . They work in shops . They run the roadside WARUNGS or Tea stalls or vending booths . They work in Hotels . But never do these women neglect their families . They hold the joint family structure firmly with their untiring service , sacrifice and hard work. Every women performs Morning Pooja to begin her day. Every house has a temple apart from the community temples .Balinese use baskets of flowers for their Pooja. Balinese like flowers especially roses . You find flowers everywhere . Flowers in the Hotel rooms ,shops , paths and even toilets .The full moon day is a great day for family Pooja . My driver took an off that day as he had to go to his village for the family Pooja .The gravitation of women towards their families , applies equally to Muslim and christian societies in Bali. Miss Jubang Aasiya , our Tour Guide from Java told me that Javanese also like to live in Joint families . While 90 to 95 percent people in Java and sumatra islands practice Islam , roughly 80 to 85 percent of total population of Bali practices Hinduism that is mixed with animism and Buddhism .

“We believe in One Supreme God called Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, with His three manifestations known as Trisakti, that is Brahma , Wisnu( Vishnu ) and Mahesa ( Shiva ) . We also worship our ancestors and Buddha. We believe in Karma , Atma , kaala and Moksha . The mother mountain, Gunung Agung or Mount Meru , is highly sacred to us. It is this mountain where we return when we die. It is the abode of gods and our ancestors. Our Buildings have pagoda like structures that represent Meru . Some people do Naga ( Snake ) worship . Ramayana and Mahabharta are our sacred texts . Devi Sarswati grants us knowlegde , art , music , dance and capacity to pass on the same to our next generation. Dewa Barun ( Varun ) is our sea god. Wisnu ( Vishnu ) and Mahesa ( Shiva ) are also our Gods . We worship Dewi Sita , Dewa Rama, Sri Kresn’a ( Krishna ) Dewi Radha , Yasodaah ( Yashoda ) Dewi Laksami ( Lakshami ) and Dewi Durga . Ayudeyaa ( Ayodhya ) is sacred for us.The demonic stone figures that you see outside our temples are actullay Guards at the Temple gates . You understand Raksaasas “ 

This is what a teacher told me whom I met in a retail outlet .

Temples in Bali  do not have usual idols or photographs of Hindu Gods . Just places meant for silent meditation and putting offerings on a platform specially designed inside the temple corners . The offerings are fruits , cooked rice , flowers , incense sticks and some coins. The temples are dedicated to Sarasawati , Durga , Lakshmi , Indra , Varun , Vishnu and Ganesha .Shiva temple is only built near a cremation ground .They have their own Balinese Gods as well. They have their own version of Ramayana and Mahabharata .


A visit to ULUWATU temple , dedicated to  Hindu god RUDRA  is  enriching and satisfying  .  The temple is situated on a coral reef at a height of about 82 metres above the sea ..The place is in south Bali about 25 kms from DENPASAR. Ulu means head and Watu means stone .The place is thronged by tourists from Japan, Germany ,Thailand , China ,USA and other countries in Asia . A spectacular  sunset view  can be clicked from this Temple . looking at the vastness of the sky and the sea , I was reminded of Ali sardar jafri's poem saheef e qaaynaat or THE SACRED TEXT OF THE UNIVERSE.. i quote

Saheef e Qaaynaat

Ye do varaq hain,
Zameen aur Aasmaan jin par
Saheef e Qaaynaat Tehreer Ho Rahaa Hai
Fasaana Hasti Ka Neistee ka
Fasaana neki ka aur Badhee ka ,
Fasaana Zulmat Ka Roshini ka ,
Saheef e Qaaynaat Tehreer Ho Rahaa hai …
Jo Kal Kali Thhii
Vo Aaj Gul Hai
Jo aaj Gul Hai
Vo Kal samar hai
Har Eik shai Waqt ki hawaaon ki Zadd pe
Eik Shamm e Rehguzar hai ..
Jo Bujh Rahee hai
Jo Jal Rahee hai
Vujood par Naaz kar Rahee hai
( Ali Sardar Jafri )

My simple English rendering of these lines goes as under …

 ( The sacred Text of this Universe )

These are just two pages ,
The sky and the Earth,
Upon these two pages ,
A sacred Text of this Universe is being written.
A story of existence and non existence ,
A story of good and evil ,
A story of darkness and Illumination ,
The sacred Text of this universe is being written.
Flower Buds of yesterday have blossomed to full flowers today ,
Today’s flowers shall be tomorrow’s Fruit .
Like a lamp kept on pathways ,
Every object is destined to face trials of the winds of time.
A lamp that keeps dimming ,
A lamp that keeps glowing ,

A lamp that feels proud of its existence …"
                                                                               
                                        ( Steps leading to Uluwatu )
                                                        ( Inside Uluwatu )
                                                   

                                                               ( Inside Uluwatu )

        ( Majestic Indian Ocean View from Ulawutu )
           ( View from Ulawutu )
                    (Majestic Indian Ocean view from Ulawutu )
                             ( Indian Ocean from Ulawutu )
                                       (  A view from Ulawutu top ) 
                                      (  Outside Ulawutu Temple gate )                                                                 

NOORA ( ‘ I Gusti Ngurah’ as his name appears on the visiting card that he passed on to me on our arrival day ) , our driver , who spoke fluent english , Bahasha Bali , Bahasha Indonesia informed me..
“ Pandavaas also visited Bali during their wanderings and accordingly Government of Indonesia has developed and named one beach as PANDAVA or PANDOVA Beach. “

“ Noora , Have you ever been too India ? “

“ No Never. Very expensive . many People want a direct flight to Bombay and Delhi from Bali . We want to visit Sacred Ganga river . We want to learn sanskrit and Ehindi ( Hindi ) .We want to see Taj Mahal . We want to Go to Joypur ( jaipur ) and Udhupur ( Udaipur ) palaces . Many tourists and guests tell me very interesting stories about these places .”

“ Have you ever heard about a place called kashmir ? “
“ No. No tourist or guest talked about this place. “

“ Fine . But You seem to be well informed , Noora . Do you know any sacred Mantra that people recite over here usually ? “
“ I have to be sir .I am a guide and Travel planner . I am Kshetriya Ehindu ( Hindu ). I know Gayatri Mantra. Our family priest made us to learn it. “

And suddenly he silenced the speakers of the car that were playing Hindi film songs to say ..

“ Om Bhoor Bhuva swaah ……. ”.

To our surprise , He recited the complete MANTRA. We were on way to Pandova Beach. And at this beautiful Beach , we saw Giant statues of Kunti , Arjuna , Yudhishtara , Bhima , Nakula and s
Sahdeva . Massive  statues Beautifully sculpted .

Go to any beach in Bali , the waves of the deep blue Indian Ocean appear benign , Pleasant and Genuinely welcoming . That is what we felt…….

To be continued…………

(Autar Mota )
PS
All Photographs Clicked by Autar Mota ... July 2015
                                                                                Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.





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