Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Why Blogspot is failing to retain the formatting I tell it to retain, I do not know. Really I do not write in run-on paragraphs like this on purpose. It's just that when I click on post, the damn thing bunches all the paragraphs together, turning them into one long entry. Go figure. If anyone knows why this is happening, please share.

Motorist Beware

Today while we were headed into Sanur for a couple of simple errands, my wife’s car was rear-ended by another car. Now, in America that’s not a huge problem, right? You just grumble a bit, get out of the car, exchange insurance information, and you’re on your way.

Not so in Bali, my friends. To begin with, almost no one here carries car insurance. I don’t blame them for this. They would be insane to do so. The insurance is shit and pretty much the only guarantee they make is that they will not pay so much as a single cent under any circumstance.

So then, what is the method of procedure? Well, although I do not understand the thinking, it seems that you must first go to the dealership for your make of car. There some men come out and mark the dents and/or scratches with a stick of chalk, some paperwork is filled out, and the driver is sent to an insurance office. Yes, even though the offending party has no insurance. It seems, as far as I can figure the thing, that insurance companies here will give loans to drivers who have no insurance. So you go to the aforementioned insurance office and the people there fill out some paperwork, examine the dents and/or scratches on your car, and then send you forthwith to the car repair shop--not to have your car repaired, mind you, but so that the people there can also fill out paperwork and study the dents and scratches.

Now considering the distances between these places, and the bumper to bumper Bali traffic, you can pretty much kiss the rest of your day goodbye. This is why it is always best to get into your accident early in the morning if at all possible.

The actual repair of your car may take place in anywhere from one week to one month, depending upon the availability of a replacement for the injured, dented, or scratched part. A bumper, for instance, a fender, a taillight. Rare creatures indeed are these.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Two Things

Two things I am aware of on a daily basis. The one is that I am likely living the best days of my life here in Bali. The other is that this likely cannot last, for I am running out of money. Obviously these are mutually contradictive sorts of reality, and yet neither seems able to exist on its own without having always the other in mind. It is keenly disappointing, after having worked all my life since the age of 16 or so--working, moreover, the last 20 years for a single company--that I am left with a retirement income not sufficient even for five years in one of the world's weakest economies. I had set out to live on my savings until the time came when I began to collect Social Security. It's not working out that way. Thirty thousand dollars I have to my name. It will last perhaps two more years, at which time I will be 59 (still young, yes?). Native people here believe with all their heart that, being a Westerner, I have money. Would that their convictions were true. But the fact is I have less money than many of them. That's why they will not see me often in MacDonalds, KFC, or any of the other Bule restaurants. That's why they will not see me at Water Boom or Discovery Mall. That's why they will not see me in the shopping district at Seminyak or the cliff-side hotels in Jimbaran. I love my life here. I hate that it must seemingly end. I love being able to do all the I used to dream of doing while I had instead to work 40 hours a week collecting those riches I and my family now live on. I hate the thought of going back to work at my age. I did believe for some time, and with some conviction, that the books I had written over the last couple years must soon find homes at publishing houses, thus augmenting my poor income--but I despair of this now. My agent, not himself to be blamed, given the quality of his own dogged, nearly tireless efforts, explains that the economy is simply very bad, and the publishing business worse. Damn the American economy! Damn the Indonesian economy too. (Btw, why is this damn blog not retaining my formatting when I post?).


The mornings here in Biaung are pleasantly cool, a world of difference from Sanur. I wrap a sarong around my waist and sit at the table outside and feel perfectly comfortable--not cold, not hot, just perfect. As I begin to type, hundreds of the tiniest sort of ants emerge from beneath the keys and scurry in panic between all the letters of the alphabet. They had apparently imagined that the innards of my laptop might make a good, safe home. To some extent they are correct, for if I try to brush them away, I end up with gibberish, like this: rdtfygjklhfvsdcZ. There do seem to be more ants inside my laptop than people in China. Another community, as I noted while making coffee, had found the honey jar on the kitchen counter. Microscopic droplets must have been available just around the edge of the screw-on lid, and they were carrying these droplets away, in the thousands, in the millions, to God knows where. There are a lot of ants in Bali. In fact, there are a lot of critters of every sort in Bali. Mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, flies, bees, crickets, beetles both crawling and flying. There are lizards--the cicak, the tokek, the buaya. There are snakes, frogs, mice, rats, along with other nameless creatures. And there are dogs, both domestic and feral. Where we lived in Sanur, five dogs made permanent residence in our little housing complex, while scores of others came and went like visiting aunts and uncles and cousins. Here in Biaung, however, there are not many dogs, and most of the dogs that do live here have owners who lead them about on leashes--an arrangement which, I am sure, would be perfectly unacceptable to the free, unfettered lifestyle of the Sanur dogs. There is a cat, however, who appears to have set up home inside the roof of our house and had kittens there. When the mother is gone, out looking for food or new mates, the kittens can be heard meowing and roaming about behind the walls or above the ceiling. When they are old enough, I’m sure they will climb down as well and roam about the outdoors with their mother. I hope so, anyway.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rumah Kami Yang Baru di Biaung

FINALLY, we found a house to move to, and have just finished doing so. The house is in Biaung, where it is cooler, quieter, greener, and only half as expensive to boot. Maybe now I can get back to work, or at least to relaxation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Body Heat

People who have MS run a higher body temperature than is normal, especially when under stress of any sort, be it physical stress, emotional stress, or the stress that comes with a common illness, such as a cold or the flu.

Given the general proclivity toward running a higher body temperature, people with MS are also unusually sensitive to hot climates, such as the one we 'enjoy' here in Bali.

Now take MS, the flu, the overwhelming humidity of Bali during the rainy season, roll them all together, and you get a pretty miserable outcome.

That's where I'm at right now, folks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Nyepi Day -- that well beloved Hindu celebration of silence and meditation -- is upon us; and this year we will try to escape the better part of the consequent boredom by driving up to Kintamani and staying two nights in a hotel there -- for outside this bastion (or various other bastions) of Western recalcitrance, no lights are allowed, no TV, no movies, no music-- no nothing, other than meditation and silence. In fact, one is not even allowed to leave his own house, for squads of Hindus, duly deputized by the local Banjar, will chase you down and deliver you to confinement in the jail. No kidding. To be a member of one of these squads is likely a cherished position, for at least they have something to do, and may walk about like free men (although very quiet ones).

But the hotel in Kintamani is exempt, you see; as are a handful of other tourist hotels. Of course, you may not go outside the hotel grounds, but you may at least go outside therein, and you may have lights, and you may watch movies, and even talk. Within the hotel grounds, that is. Moreover, it is said to be a beautiful place, built on the shore of a lake, offering excellent meals and such-like, so I look forward to the experience.

Last year I did stay in Sanur for Nyepi, and honestly it wasn't so bad. I'm a pretty sedate and sedentary person anyway. I read, I slept, I basked in the silence, and I watched the stars fall at night. But for my son, and for my wife, it is quite unbearable (and I'm sure that they would make it unbearable for me in turn). So Kintamani, here we come.

I hope they have WIFI.