Friday, July 31, 2015



                                                        ( Our Hotel in Ubud, Bali Indonesia  )


After a quick Breakfast inside the Restaurant of our Hotel , we come to the reception counter and wait for Noora’s ( Ngurah ) Taksi ( Taxi ) to arrive . I talk to the Girl at the reception ..

“ No Indian item for the breakfast ? We have been having Black Tea , Toasts , Jam , Butter and Fruits only all these days.We need some solid food that stays longer inside the stomach to give a feel that we have eaten something . “
My wife smiles at this comment from my side . The girl at the counter is unable to understand what I say .

“ Not Good Breakfast ! That you saying sir ?” She replies..

“ No. I say something different . We Indian .We need something like Tea with Milk , Parantha , Vegetable, Curd , Eggs and Roti for Breakfast . You give American and Chinese stuff only.”

“ Parantha ! I not get . We give guest egg breakfast . You Tomorrow Egg sir. Roti we give all day you American Breakfast . How you liking Madam Breakfast ? “

Give Milk with Tea . We do not drink black tea . And some Chapaati or Parantha or Purrie . You don’t cook Channa or Mix vegetable . No Curd . He likes Curd every day . We pay extra if you give us all this . “ Adds my wife .

“ Paranthaa ! What go Paranthaa you say Madam? Chapaati ? Curd ? Poorrie ? Channaa? I not know . I give what I Menu . I go Sorry .”

Noora has arrived . We wrap up our conversation and move towards the Taksi ( Taxi ) .
“ Good Morning sir . I was listening to the conversation . Roti is a Balinese word also The brown Bread Toast is known as Roti in My country i. Chapaati I understand . Not many know what Chapaati means . No Gundhum ( Balinese word for Wheat ) grow in Bali . Balinsese grow two rice crops minimum. So Rice items for the Breakfast , Lunch , Dinner and in between. “ Noora is clear and specific in his English . He is a college dropout .

“ Fine . We need to look for the curd or Yogurt on the way ? Do remember . “

“ Yogurt ! Say like that . Nobody knows Curd here .” Noora corrects me .

We stop at a retail provision outlet “ALFA STORE “ and rush back to the Taxi after listening “ SORRY “ from the sales girl. We enter two or three stores thereafter but draw a blank. Finally we are shown small Tetra packs of ( about 100 grams Grams in weight ) sweet Yogurt with Mint , Strawberry and other flavours. I buy one for 10000 Indonesian Rupaiah ( About Rs50 ), Tear it open and taste it.I am dejected . We move to PURA GOA GAJAH .

     ( Women going to a religious ceremony)
 ( Bath before entering a Hindu Teertha )
 ( The devotees in a Hindu Teertha)
    ( A bride and bridegroom )

 ( A Balinese family performing  Homa )


This place is near UBUD not far away from our place of stay. It is about 27 kms from DENPASAR .We come down about 200 steps from the main Road to reach the Elephant Cave Temple complex . We are told to Wash our faces and hands in the sacred spring outside the cave that has some coloured fish . The water Pond is enclosed by Carved stone structure. Water gushes out from standing human figures carved on stones .You need to enter in a SARONG or waist cloth and pay entry fee . A huge demonic Figure has been carved upon the rock at the entrance to the cave . It is almost dark inside . I see Indentures inside the cave implying that Buddhist or Shaivite sages would have been sitting for meditation inside the cave .I feel a little choking due to Incense smoke and humidity inside the cave . Still We decide to proceed and move to the right corner of the cave to see a medium sized SHIVA LINGAS ( Three in Number ) . These lingas are also surrounded by smaller Lingas . I also see an Image of Ganesha inside the cave .

                                                    ( At the Entrance to Pura Goa Gajah )

                                            ( The sacred water  pond at  Pura Goa Gajah )

The ceiling inside the cave has turned black by smoke created due to burning of incense sticks on continuous basis .This is a ninth century UNESCO listed World heritage Monument . There are some more structures and enclosures outside the Cave suggesting that the place was also a seat of learning . The Images appearing on the stone carvings are of Hindu and Buddhist origin. I find tourists from Japan , Europe and other south East Asian countries inside the complex. The Temple structure has been built near the confluence two streams and accordingly the place was considered sacred and ideal for meditation.

As we move out and return the SARONGs, Noora rushes to help us .

“ How you like it ? “

“ Good “

“ Previously there were seven human figures representing seven fountains or Septa Tirta ( SAPTA TEERTHA ) in the sacred water pond meant for bathing by Pilgrims “

“ How do you know it ? “

“Our ancestors tell sir . Noora Tourist Guide also . Believe me what I say . “

“Noora , SAPTA TEERTHA is a symbolic representation of sapta Nadi concept.”

“What is that sir ? I want to know for my future tourist guide work .”

“ SAPTA NADI or Seven sacred rivers of India . If you ever visit India , Go to Prayaga or SANGAM in ALLAHABAD where GANGA , YAMUNA and Mythical SARSAWATI rivers meet , the Brahmana priests over there shall explain you the importance of SAPTA NADI , which according to them , means seven rivers namely Ganga , yamuna , sindhu, sarayu, Godawari, Narmada and Sarsawati .”

“ So Many thanks sir .” And we drive towards KINTAMANI VOLCANO. We have hardly moved 10 kms through green and airy forests when Noora is stopped by Police . Noora opens the dashboard of the TAKSI ( Taxi ) and pulls out some currency notes . The taxi comes to halt.,

“ What happened ? Are your Taxi papers lawfully complete and in order ?” I ask .

“ Yes sir . Wait . Just five minutes .”
I come out of the Taxi . Two police men move towards me and ask me to sit inside .Noora hands over some currency notes to one police man in uniform  . They shake hands and smile .

“ Corrupt! Thieves ! “ Utters Noora as he enters the Taksi ( Taxi ) and presses the ignition switch to start the vehicle .

I am reminded of many similar scenes in India and more particularly on highways in our state . If not Universal, it is the PAN ASIA face of corruption . Nothing amuses me to continue further conversation on the subject. We drive through orchards full of oranges . Oranges on trees and being packed for supply to Jakarta market . My wife asks Noora to stop as she wants to buy some orchard fresh oranges .

“ Madam wait . We buy from some good people . Cheap and fresh “

“ Fine . Stop at some convenient place . Any restaurant nearby ?“

“ Wait sir . Just after 20 minutes we shall be in Kintamani . Very Good restaurants . You get some Indian food also . Buffet system Rupaiah 1,25,000= ( Indian Rs625= ) per person . Eat as much you can. Then Tea , Kopi ( Coffee ), sweet Pudding , fruit . Very good restaurant in my country . Madam and you eat for 2,50,000 Rupaiah .”

“Fine “

We stop near an orchard . From his body language , I understand that Noora is familiar with people from this orchard. My wife picks up 24 oranges and I ask for the money . Noora says 50000 Rupaiah ( Indian Rs250=) .Looks reasonable . I find the oranges not so sweet and not sour either . No match for our A grade Nagpur variety . We carry the load and pass on four Oranges to Noora who is driving fast . Suddenly he declares that we are at Kintamani. He takes us straight to KINTAMANI RESTAURANT though There are more restaurants in the areathat appear crowded with tourist . I pull out a 50000 Rupaiah currency note to pay NOORA for his Lunch .
“ No need sir . If you take Lunch at this place , I get free meal. “

We eat steamed rice , Mix Vegetable (Potato , Broccoli and capsicum etc .), Tofu , crisp spinach Pakora , Finger chips , Fruit salad, chicken Satte ( roasted ) and finally Kopi ( Coffee ). I taste the sweet pudding . It gives me a faint smoke stink. My wife tells me that the pudding is no match to our Suji Halwa , Gajar Halwa , Gulab Jamun , Jalebi or Russ Malai . For sure it is not.

My wife has not touched chicken piece that I had put in her plate . As she goes to take some more fruit salad , she reads a notice on one of the Buffet dish display tables “ Sea Food , Beef and Pork Preparations “ . She seeks my clarification on the subject. I tell her that it is all segregated and kept separate and it is mostly for the Tourists from Europe and America .Not meant for Indians at least, i assure her again  . She is not satisfied with this reply.

“ But they must be cooking in the same kitchen ? “

“ No . Rest assured “

“Why did Noora  bring us to a wrong place ? “

“ Forget and Relax “
As I settle our  bill, She asks the waiter ..

“ Don't You cook Palak Paneer or Daal fry etc. ? “

He does not understand what is being asked from him .He looks at me for more clarification . I smile and help him to come out of this dilemma . He moves to the next Guest .


Kintamani is a hill and name of a village as well in Bangli Regency . It is about 50 kms from Desapar . Kintamani top is about 1400 metres above sea level. It is a cool place with greenery and fresh air . On the hill opposite to Kintamani lies the Volcano of Mount Batur . And below Kintamani , lies the famous lake batur .Sitting on view point of some restaurant in this village , one can have a commanding view of MOUNT  BATUR . This mountain peak is about 1717 metres high from the sea level and remains one of Indonesia’s active Volcanoes. This dry Black mountain has a Caldera formed by some ancient eruption . Since 1804, it has erupted about 26 times .The last major eruption was in 1926 when entire Batur village below the mountain was swept away and buried under the LAVA. Another eruption in 2000 had no impact as people had already moved away from the volcano site . A new batur village has been built on the south of the VOLCANO after 1926 eruption.You can see lake Batur and the crater also from Kintamani village . The best view of the lake , Mount Batur and the caldera can be had from Penelokan village near Kintamani . A hot spring known as TOYA BUNGKAH is also near by .
                                                              ( Hotels at Kintamani )
                                       ( A view of Mount Batur Volcano  from Kintamani )
                                               ( A view of lake Batur from Kintamani )
After 3 PM during daytime , the area can be under thick fog and become cooler . The fog may be there for the whole night . So enchanting and beautiful experience . Most of the restaurants in Kintamani have porticos wherefrom you can enjoy commanding view of the Volcano and the lake while you enjoy your Lunch. I felt as if I was in Gulmarg.

Noora tells us

“ Sir , The hot water to this spring comes directly from that far off Volcano . People go to that Volcano sit in trucks . They bring that balck sand and sell it in Towns . That lake batur below is biggest lake in bali . All irrigation depends on this lake sir .When we return we see rice fields . All water comes from this lake . Best water sir rich in fertile minerals of the Volcano. Look there below near the lake . you see those green patches . These are fields full of vegetables and green chillies . So much of cabbage grown here . so many fish in the lake . Many people engaged in catching the fish and selling to Hotels in Bali . so many ducks and swans there in the lake sir .“

I look below at the vast expanse and breathtaking view of lake Betur and the black barren Volcanic Mount Batur nearby. Hawkers keep disturbing us .

“Sir Bali T shirt . Sir Bali souvenir . Madam this Bali Purse . Madam Perfume . Sir this for you Goggle . Pay Indian rupee . pay dollar . Pay Rupaiah .”

I smile and say a firm NO. They keep coming again and again. As we drive down the hill , I ask Noora where to go now .

“Sir next tour to TEGALLALANG  . World famous beautiful rice terraces . Rice growing done under age old “SUBUK “ system in Bali .All issues of irrigation settled mutually in villages under SUBUK system. Due to most favourable climate and abundance of irrigation facilities from rivers lakes ponds streams springs , Balinese are known all over the world as exceptional rice producers . Our rice goddess known as “Bhatari Sri “. Sir All rice Farming people in Bali from sudra caste .Excellent farming and canal system they build in Bali that helps us to have minimum two crops.
                                                      ( A Rice field near  Tegllalang ) )
Brahmana , ksetriya and wesiya form the TRIWANGSA or the three upper caste people of BALI . Sometimes Triwangsa may also go for rice farming and Sudra may be a shopkeeper , teacher or Artist . No problem in that . No person untouchable here in my country . All visit Temple fairs . All go to Brahamana priest  for Rituals . You see 90% people in Bali from Sudra caste. Sudra backbone of our life in Bali . “

“ Fine . Stop near some Money changer’s shop . I need to convert about 100 US dollors to Indonesian Rupaiah. And then I need to talk to the teacher that I told you . we need to meet him as well . This caste system appears   good  to integrate  Balinese society . I need  more details and clarifications.”

“ Okay sir. Sir I suggest you try your ATM card here in Bali .Why we go shop after shop for better rate? “

“That is a good idea . “

I have my VISA credit card , a RuPay Debit Card and MasterCard Debit Card . We stop near an ATM and I swipe my RuPay card. It is thrown back by the machine. I realize that this card is only meant for withdrawing Indian Rupees in India. No online Transaction or shopping . I insert Mastercard Debit card . The machine accepts it . I Need to withdraw Indonesian Rupaiah . I write 500000 Rupaiah . The machine throws out five 100000 Rupaiah notes converting them to Indian rupees at prevailing rates with a load of nominal charges .My account is debited with Indian Ruppes 2644=. I am more than happy .

As we drive down to Ubud , we pass through village Tegallalang We are near the loveliest Terraced Rice Fields. A fantastic spectacle of green Rice fields across mountains slopes . At foot of these mountains , you find rice fields under tall coconut Trees and amazingly cascading in terraces . Rice fields Well laid with a grand network of Water canals . We see Farmers with Cambodian type conical straw hats on their heads moving in the fields. You do not notice Tractors or other modern agriculture implements . Bullocks plough these terraced rice fields . I find many Europeans staying with families of Farmers .


“ They write Books and eat Balinese food . It also works cheaper for them . They come close to real Balinese life .” Adds Noora .

We pull out some dry fruits that we carried from Mumbai. We pass on a handful to Noora ( Full Name.. I Gusti Ngurah Artawan ). He is amused to see the walnut Kernel and seeks information about it. He does not know what walnut is and has neither seen it .

Balinese Cremation

 The Balinese Hindus believe that cremation liberates the soul of the dead  to rejoin the cycle of reincarnation. Cremation takes place on the auspicious day. Till then, these are buried in a funeral near sea beach or near some temple.. The corpses are then retrieved before  the auspicious day of cremation 

 In a Balinese funeral procession, the body is carried to the cremation ground in a multi-leveled tower made with bamboo, paper, silk, flowers and other colorful objects.

Nobody weeps in the funeral procession. . The coffin is placed in a wooden ox or symbolic sacrificial animal  that is burnt . Fruits clothes and everything for afterlife is placed with coffin.  Many European tourists come to witness a cremation ceremony.


                 ( A funeral procession in Bali )


To be continued …….

( Avtar Mota )

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