Sunday, May 18, 2008

And then he disappeared into the water - INDONESIA

Just got swindled out of $10 at some shady money exchanger through some fancy sleight of hand (there were no other options other than the money changers), otherwise Indonesia (at least Java) has proven quite friendly and accommodating (if you don't count all the sleazy men making crude comments in Bahasa to Leah, my travel partner). Ben actually should be in Michigan about now visiting the university as a prospective philosophy Ph.D. student. Before Bali I was in the city of Yogykarta where I have a friend teaching. It was a good stretch of relaxation in this trip of constant traveling. We took a horse-drawn carriage of sorts around the city to see the famous sites (albeit unimpressive in comparison to those of Thailand and Cambodia), got massages (a mixture of shiatsu and traditional during which my masseuse walked on my back, massaged my mostly bare bum, asked if I wanted to be her boyfriend – all through the translating of my friend Casey and her masseuse behind the next curtain), and we watched Atonement & Superbad on DVD. From Yogya we took a bus to Gunung Bromo in East Java, a collection of massive volcanoes that look like something from a different world. The lengthy bus rides enabled us to bear witness to some of the coolest landscapes which could easily provide the setting for a new King Kong movie, made all the more atmospheric by the constant boarding and de-boarding of musicians looking to make some pocket change through rockin' serenades. An endless day of grueling bussing and ferrying brought us to Bali.“And there’s another one here, and here…” she said while pointing out what she believed to be bug bites on my back. They were in fact pimples.
“And here too” she repeated.

Leah laughed. Here we were with the Indonesian bar girl on the beach from “Paddys” night club whom we somehow collectively brought home together the night before. Casey begrudgingly called it a “bout of genius” to do such a thing. Indri, the bar girl, was enamored with Leah and I, under the belief that we were the most perfect brother/sister duo to have graced the Earth. We had stood Indri up the first few nights in Bali after making small talk as she worked the outside of Paddys in the sexy door girl role. Little did Leah and I know she’d only been working the gig for a few days and was naively genuine when expressing interest in meeting up post-work with two flirtatious underage-looking clientele pretending to be siblings, a ploy devised so as to prevent Leah and I from cockblocking each other.
Indri seemed very sad to see me go today. Never did I imagine my final day in Asia would be spent in Bali amidst such unexpected company. Indri grew closely attached to Leah & I so quickly, and then after sleeping between us in bed, we couldn’t get rid of her, even as she was nearly drowning in the ocean and pulling Leah down with her in a fit of panic. It was only Indri’s second time or so playing in the waves. She didn’t fare so well. A day ago, we were all in Ubud (minus Indri) witnessing ceremonial cockfighting at a Hindu temple. In the afternoon, back in Semanyak, we were getting thrashed around in the giant ocean waves as it started down pouring. I had an almost dream-like interaction with a handsome middle-aged Frenchman when he and I were the only two in the water while everyone else heeded the red flag swimming advisories. He gave me some advice on body surfing and demonstrated great acumen in gliding through the massive wave tunnels sideways with one arm extended as if he were Superman…if Superman had worn flippers.
“If you’re even remotely afraid” he said, “you shouldn’t be out here. To me, catching waves – it’s a game. I’ve been doing it everyday for the last 30 years. It’s what I love.”
It was scary, though, getting tossed around like a rag doll in the washing machine. It was stormy. The waves were imposing. There was a moment at the end of each big wave I rode where I thought I might drown.
Buli was his name, the Frenchman. He’d been living in Bali for 23 years without having to work.
“How’d you make your fortune to afford such a life?” I asked.

“Ah ah ah ah” he responded in the kind of tone that says ‘don’t touch.’ “That’s my business.” And then he disappeared into the water.

Presently, it is with no concretely identifiable feeling or emotion that I ride a plane to Jakarta on the first of five legs of my trip home. Like death, I must do it alone. It is not climactic, probably because I cheapened things by going home already in October. The parents will be in Israel and there is no longer a loving girlfriend waiting with open arms and a Jimmy Johns sub. There will be Auntie, and Lane arriving 3hrs later, and an unwritten future up for grabs.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Wow! It's been great following your Asian adventures and your entry ended powerfully. I can't wait to follow your midwestern adventures. What's it like being back?