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Showing posts from July, 2017

She-demons 2017/07/27 Bali

The smell of mandarin peel, horse sweat and leather on my hands after a ride through timeless lush paddy fields. I feel the continuity from plants, crops and trees through horse, dog, cat, chicken, pig, human. This continuity is celebrated in the imagery, costumes, statues, dances and offerings of the daily Hindu worship here. So different from the Christian separation from the animal world. Yet I've seen more animal suffering here than anywhere I can recall. When people live close to their animals they can be surprisingly careless and cruel. In a restaurant: a small menagerie of caged birds includes a sulphur-crested cockatoo, grey skin where his white plumage should have been, constantly falling off his perch and hauling himself back on. While we eat, he constantly chews his metal bars and chains, struggling to be free. A calf tied to a tree has twisted himself into a choke hold and can't undo it. And then there's just the cruelty of nature when it meets the develo

Beautiful mongrels 2017/07/23 Bali

Like most migrants she brings to a her new home the energy to realise all of her hopes and dreams.  I saw the distinctive silhouette of Michele's twisted Afro hair, and our eyes met as I walked past her Jamaican restaurant.  The next day I popped in to say hi. Straightaway there was a friendly recognition ... she is from Jamaica by way of New York. I am from the neighbouring island of Barbados, by way of Ireland, USA, Australia. A stocky woman (in her 50s?), M had beautiful smooth golden skin, full lips and huge green eyes behind black-rimmed spectacles, her hair dyed dark plum red. She said she would like to have hair like mine one day. We talked about the benefits and challenges of having natural hair. M. said she was done with straightening. Natural all the way. You know your people are oppressed when their default position is to use expensive chemicals in order to resemble the dominant social group or their standards of beauty. As some women need plastic surgery in ord

Riding the volcano with Tony 2017/07/23 Bali

For my first weekend in Bali I'm joined by a dear old friend who lives in Jakarta. Almost 2 decades my senior, Tony pushes me beyond my comfort zone, into the zone of adventure. Tony's plan for our second day in Bali: ride down the mountain through farms and villages for 40km without a guide. The night before collecting the rental bikes we tried them out – they needed work. The shopkeeper said that he would fix them up: firm tyres, oil and working brakes. On the morning of the big ride, my front tyre was mushy. The shopkeeper told me he did not have a pump. Incredulous, I said 'You don't have a pump? But this is a bike shop!' He got on the bike himself and said 'There is enough air.' 'I ride a bike every day,’ I said. 'I know when there is enough air. That tyre is too soft.' The guy disappeared up the road for a short while with the bike, came back and asked me to try it – no difference. When Tony arrived with my coffee, he responded calmly