I’m moving. Again. For the third time since I arrived in Bali two years and a month ago. For me this has become a defining characteristic of life on the island. Not a desired one, but a defining one nonetheless.
Curiously, in the fifty-five years preceding my arrival in Bali I moved from one residence to another only six times, and these relocations were generally coincident with some more or less auspicious occasion -- leaving the parental home, getting married, getting divorced, getting married again, getting divorced again. You get the idea. I suppose that if I had gotten married and divorced more regularly, I would have moved more times.
But here in Bali there has been none of that, so far. There have been no changes in marital status that would have brought on another rearrangement of residence, no financial boons nor disasters, no house burnings or necessitating acts of nature, and yet here I am packing boxes once again for our move to residence number three. Three moves in two years, as opposed to six in fifty-five. I’m no wizard at math, but I reckon if you take this alarming rise in the incidence of relocation and apply it to the number of years I have left to live, the result will show that I will still be changing residence far beyond the time of my actual demise.
I should add before proceeding any further that I do not like to move. I am not one who tires of a place and desires a change, hankers after a new locale, covets new rooms, new views, more space or less space. The fact is I hardly notice what’s around me. Pictures may disappear from walls without my knowing they’d ever been there to begin with. My wife can bring in a pottery vase the size of a German Shepherd and I will call it new three months later. I’m oblivious, but I’m happy. And that’s what matters, right?
So why am I moving?
I’m moving because of the apparent conviction of Balinese landlords that the funds I have available to me must triple every year -- a belief which in turns excites the innate greed response and inspires a like increase in rent. It’s funny how these sorts of figures, generally pretty reliably set in America, can be subject to such eccentric variation here in Bali. And it’s not just the rent. No, this can extend as well to electricity and water bills, maintenance costs, damage repair -- not damages you yourself have caused, mind you, but damages that predate your contract by a year and more. Suddenly there are holes in the roof, and money is wanted. During the last wind storm the roof of the car port blew away. That’s on the renter too. This is an idea that the western mindset finds almost impossible to negotiate -- the notion that the common yearly maintenance of a house is the responsibility of the renter and not the owner. I have seen this in force again and again, and yet I cannot fully grasp the thing.
In our previous rental we paid as much as Rp.700,000 a month for electricity and water, only to find upon moving to the next house that the same should have run around Rp.230,000. Is something amiss here? Hmm. Well maybe it was that Buddha statue out front with the flood lights and running water fountain which, as we were told, definitely had nothing to do with our unit.
So here we go again. Time to uproot and replant. Luckily some of our stuff is still in boxes from the move last year and so is not so much in need of sorting as it is of hefting. Who knows what’s in those boxes? Maybe we’ll find out if we ever stay in one place long enough. It could be my unfinished novel. It could be my winter wardrobe. It could be my raisons from Fresno. Time to call the AC folks, and Indovision, and Telcom Sel. Not that any of them will show up very soon. But it’s the thought that counts, and how many times you think it.
Ah, but there’s yet another catch. First we must wait for the tenant presently residing in the new house we have rented to remove himself and his trappings from the same. Did I say residing? I meant squatting -- for even though he has paid but a small portion of the sum owed on rent, he will not be pried loose, having preferred throughout his stay there the tender of vague promises to the payment of actual funds. We have, however, succeeded in entering into negotiations with him at the time of this writing, and hope soon to arrive upon a fair sum for the purchase of his departure.