Visits

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rub-a-Dub-Dub

I’m on the east coast of Bali, near Amed, at Katana Villa. I’m sitting in Matthias Hues’ rounded stone bath watching warm water cascade from the mouth of a dog-like statue. How did I get here? What am I doing in Matthias Hues’ bath? The answers are simple enough, and yet they don’t seem to address the real heart of the matter, this eerie sense of displacement that one encounters when he finds himself sitting in Matthias Hues’ bath.

I don’t know Matthias Hues, you see? I had never so much as heard of him until a week or so prior to this moment. Nor do I know his life partner, Leslie Carleton, also a Hollywood actress. I have seen a photo of her. A beautiful woman, tan, sleek, lying ever so photogenic on the beach. And now I’m sitting in her bath.

Matthias Hues is an actor as well, from Germany. He starred in the movie Star Trek VI. Or so I‘m told. I‘ve not seen the movie. Matthias is in Germany now, with Leslie, and I am in their bath.

Strange enough, folks, for a small town American boy to be living in Bali. But to be staying in a villa on the east coast of Bali sitting in Matthias Hues bathtub? That’s displacement beyond common definition.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back-Stabbed

Better to have an enemy who slaps you in the face than a friend who stabs you in the back.

Well, I recently got a firsthand taste of that old saying after 59 years of being fairly blissfully ignorant. But I guess betrayal hurts just the same whether you're 9 or 59. I would suppose so, anyway.

This all began with a water leak in our bathroom. Sounds pretty simple on the surface,   but these snowballs do grow and get to rollin' downhill. The normal thing seemed to be to report this ever more gushing leak to the landlord with the expectation that some action would be taken. Silly me.

Yes, because, you see, Balinese landlords have actually nothing to do with their property. It's the renters responsibility. The landlord merely collects the money. It is the tennant who is expected to fix anything that goes wrong with the house. And I do mean anything.

As an example, our former landlord demanded that we replace the roof over the parking drive after it blew away in a windstorm. Of course you must, she said. After all, it was there when I rented the place to you,, and now it's gone.

Such, it proved, was the case with the leak in the bathroom. The old, rotting, deteriorating pipe behind the toilet was just fine when she rented the place, so if it was leaking now, it could only be our own fault.

Right. Well okay, then, at least send a repairman.

Ah but now she doesn't want to -- because I had insulted her by telling her the pipe was not in good condition, and could not have been in good condition for the past 9 years or so.

To this point, the story is pretty simple. A story of typical dishonesty and greed. Ah, but the plot thickens. It so happens that the landlord's husband is my best friend in Bali. I have known him for 3 years and we have visited daily. It so happens, also, that said husband and best friend has been basically estranged from his wife for the last year. They live in different parts of their house, they rarely speak, and he regularly refers to her as "the bitch". In fact, he appears to refer to almost every woman as the bitch, my own wife included.

Now, I've always let this pass, because he's typically an angry, curmudgeonly sort, like my first wife, and so I'm kind of used to it, and I think he has a good heart somewhere down there in the recesses of his chest or bowels.

I felt comfortable therefore, while discussing the leaky situation on Facebook cat, to myself refer to his wife as a bitch. I was angry, you see, and increasingly frustrated by the wasteful fountain of water coming out of the pipe in the bathroom.

But don't ya know, my 'friend' ran straight away and told his wife what I said.  A relationship leak has now become a disastrous flood. Next thing, the wife is on the phone with my wife complaining about the terrible insults I have cast upon her, while my own wife, ever faithful, begins to stoke the fire with further insults and counterattacks.

Gee, all I wanted was to get the water pipe fixed.

Well, next thing I know, Vick is sending me a message saying that "the whole thing has gotten out of hand" and that I simply need now to apologize to his wife and all will be well.

LOL.

Apologize? What, for the can of worms he opened himself? Apologize for what was very clearly never meant for the woman to hear, and for what she never would have heard but for the big, inexplicably moronic mouth of her husband? Apologize for using the same words, in a private conversation, which he himself regularly uses to describe both his wife and mine?

Good grief.

So apologize, I did. Though of course to no avail. What's done is done. The snow ball is rolling faster than ever, crushing everything in its path. And here I am standing with a knife in my back.

End result: I hired a man, got the pipe fixed, and paid the bill myself. And we are all now dire enemies.

Moral of the story. Hm. Trust no one, I guess, and especially a friend -- for one is never in greater danger than at the hands of a friend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JCO vs Starbucks

Although there are a couple of Starbucks hereabouts, these are rather far distant from me, and so I have had to switch to JCO -- an Italian owned doughnut and coffee house which features Starbucks-like cappuccinos (well, sort of) along with a free doughnut with every drink order. It's also cheaper than Starbucks, at 24000 Rupiah compared to 34000 (although it's still more expensive than the pot of black coffee for 10000 at the nearby Chill-It bar and cafe). Yes, it's hard to give up my old haunts -- those prolific Starbucks in the States which yet inspire such lasting affection in me -- but it's the next best thing, and better than struggling through the traffic to Denpasar or Kuta -- a long way to go for coffee. The JCO cappuccino has no foam to speak of, but the size is ample and the coffee is rich and hot. It's also a more interesting place to write or relax and lounge or visit with friends than the Starbucks here, mainly because normal people here cannot afford to drink at Starbucks, and so they tend to be pretty quiet, even deserted sorts of places. But here at JCO one finds a consistent bustle -- adults, school children, gaggles of gabbing, giggling girls, so there's always something to look at or listen to if your bored of looking at your computer keyboard and listening to the keystrokes. It's restful to me -- more restful than home, which is either too quiet or too noisy, never just right. I do hear that there are plans underway to erect a Starbucks here in Sanur (my neck of the woods), but one never knows. Rumours of all sorts abound in Bali. For the time being, I make do with whatever is real.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Black Magic

Our maid tells me just now, via telephone text message, that she will not be able to work tomorrow, as her 5 year old daughter has been incapacitated by black magic, such that she cannot walk or feed herself. She tells me that if I do not believe this, I may come to her place in person and see for myself. But no need for that. Of course I believe it. I believe it because I know she believes it -- and so there you have it, God help her. I wish I could speak Indonesian better, but I'm afraid that addressing such matters as black magic and bogeymen is quite beyond my limited vocabulary. But if I could speak, I would tell her this. That nothing - not life nor death, sickness nor health, powers in high or low places, can separate us from the love and power that is in Christ Jesus. No worries - if only she knew.