This day in Sanur, Bali can be best described as simply stifling. Like living inside a furnace. Hot or not, I would usually go out to the air-conditioned Renon Starbucks on Sunday, but for some reason I decided to go down to the beach. Generally I avoid this on Sunday because of the crowds, but I guess I forgot about that and went anyway. I realized my mistake when I found that the only open seat at Oomba cafe was in the full sunlight. So I sat there not enjoying my coffee, squinting at the iPad screen, obscured by the pounding light and feeling like it might explode in my hands at any moment. Happily, the cup at Oomba is only small, so in no time I was done and on my way back home to swelter there.
Actually, I suppose there were a couple of reasons I didn't go to Starbucks, one being that my laptop battery is dead, thus requiring me to lug along the power cord, and the other being that my brain is empty anyway. And even if there does happen to be some vague thing rattling around in there, I can find no way to put it down in writing. Or I simply lose interest after the first couple words, deciding that it was really of no interest anyway.
The older I get, the more I keep silent. There is the sense that my thoughts need to be hidden, that they are inept or embarrassing or will somehow betray me. I don't know how to say it, really. I don't know how to explain it. It is as if advertising them will make me seem feeble and weak. Nor are they generally even of particular interest to me.
Finally in the evening time the clouds all gathered together, done at last with roaming the horizons, met in the center of the sky and exploded in lightning, thunder, and rain, and praise God the day cooled off a bit. This is nothing other than the usual drill for this time of year. You'd think I'd be used to it by now.
I've probably said this before, but there is nothing so disarming to the typical American such as myself than the unworldly friendliness of Indonesian people. It always surprises me, and ultimately delights me. Yesterday evening as I sat outside at my front table smoking a cigarette, a young man, part of the work crew from the new house behind me, showed up at the gate, lingered there a while, just smiling, and then finally struck up a conversation. Most people back home would see that you were sitting there smoking and move on rather than standing there smiling, right?
Well, he had a number of questions. Do you live alone? Where is your wife? How long have you been here? Do you have friends here.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry," he said. "May I be your friend?"
Who says this kind of thing? Can you imagine someone just walking up in America and asking if he can be your friend? It's weird, right? And feels automatically disconcerting, leading to two questions in one's mind: Why? and What do you really want?
"Well, uh ... sure, I guess so," I answered.
"May I come in and sit with you?"
So that he did, and we chatted together, as best as possible anyway, for his accent was very thick indeed, as he spoke what's called bahasa gaul (street language, you might say).
After a time, I went inside and came back out with my cane.
"Will you go somewhere now?" he said.
"Yes, I need to go to the corner store, buy some cigarettes."
"Oh. Do you want company?"
"Umm ... sure, that's fine."
So off we went, continuing our conversation. About Jimbar, Java, from whence he comes. About the work he is doing here. About the fact that he is only 16 years old. Impressive indeed, for this is hard, hot, back-breaking work.
"I will go to bed now," he said as we returned to the gate. "Thank you. Selamat malam. I will see you tomorrow, okay?"
Umm ... yeah. All righty then.