Bali – A Day In The Life

An Interview With a Balinese Woman

She arrives at my hotel on her motorbike wearing traditional clothing of a muted color sarong, a long sleeved lace blouse sashed at her waist and flip flops. Her skin is golden bronze and her long black hair is in a ponytail.  What I notice first as she walks toward me, is her look of no stress; her features are smooth and her brown eyes kind of dance with light. Oh, and she’s wearing red lipstick. Her name and photo will remain anonymous.
offering-basket

Made (pronounced Maidae) is full of smiles as she apologizes for her English and greets me with prayer hands.

Explaining that my readers are curious to learn about her life in Bali, she begins her story:

“I am 43 now and was married at age 18. I am a mother to three boys, ages 25, 19 and 10. I know there is a big distance in my boys ages, you could say the third was an accident. Because, in Bali, contraception is sometimes tablets or sometimes injection.  I was changing to tablet when I got pregnant.”

“Each day I wake up at 4:30 as a Balinese woman with children. I start to cook the rice and use vegetable and meat, because a Balinese woman cooks only one time a day.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner is the same each day. The next day, I might use tofu & tempeh. So everything will be ready in the morning when anyone wants to make it warm. After cooking I do my first morning prayers. Also, every day, I make 50 pieces of caning sari (offering baskets) for the prayers and blessings to the Gods. “

woman-on-scooter

Pause here, as I hoped the look of surprise on my face didn’t offend her. Did I hear what I thought I just heard? Fifty pieces of caning sari, each day? The Balinese women are wonderful extreme crafters in ways that are hard to imagine until you see it. I took a class on how to make caning sari once, and could barely weave anything that closely resembled these little baskets of art.

“In my compound we have 15 families that are all related. Every day in the morning, one member of each family puts caning sari at the family temple, then around our own house, on the motorbike, on the kitchen, on the statues, everywhere. I like to do this in the morning because I have good thinking and it’s not too hot outside.  I ask for the God, ‘OK God, I do prayers today’, this is a symbolic prayer to be happy, thank you for your blessings and we hope you’re coming back to bring more blessings and more good health to our families. Then I pray for more customers come to my store. “

rice-fields

“For the woman in Bali when you have your period, you cannot do the offerings for 3 days. So another family can do it or a husband. But the husband is not so happy to do it, because you always have to tell him how to do it and what to say. Because in Bali, when you are a girl, your mom will teach you how to do the prayers and what to say to the Gods. There are different prayers for every ceremony, or full moon, and different prayers for the Gods, and we always have to teach the men what to say to which God. “, she laughs.

Note-In the Hindu faith, a menstruating woman is considered ‘ritually impure’ and is also prohibited from entering temples during this time. This goes for tourists too, who are often surprised to see the signs at the temple door “Attention – Women are not permitted during their menstrual period”. The rule extends to men if they have a cut that is bleeding too. This is just part of their culture.

bali-woman-basket-on-head

“Then my husband goes to work at our food store and my sons go to school. My work is to take care of a three villas owned by an American.  I am the house manager and work from 8 to 4. After work I still do my activity at home like being a wife, washing dishes and continue with laundry, things like that. We don’t have a computer in the house but we have phones and television.  I try to teach my children it is more important to learn their culture instead of watching TV. Because we have so many ceremonies and the community is so strong, there are always things to do to prepare for ceremonies. This is very strong still in Bali today.”

“People of Bali are always happy because we believe in karma. If you do something bad that gives you bad karma. We always want good karma, then we are always smiling and happy and nothing bad happens.”

A day in the life of this modern Balinese woman revolves around her faith and family. A big takeaway was hearing about the prevailing belief in karma. Now I understand why the Balinese are known for their warm and friendly nature. Karma is the rule of the land and adopted as a lifestyle. When I was a little girl growing up in NJ, my mom taught me ‘The Golden Rule’, do unto others as you would have them do unto you…otherwise known as karma. Another way to understand this is also called The Law of Attraction.

ganesha

Here’s a few more Q&A:

What do you do when you are stressed?

“ I communicate with my husband. Each day we do hard work, so one day a week we try to relax or go to the beach. When we see the blue water we can think more clear. The most important thing when stressed out, is meditation, the second is communication.”

How would you describe yourself?

“My life is so easy, I like a more simple life, just to do a great job here and that makes me happy.”

What’s the most important thing you teach to your children?

“I always teach my children to have a disciplined life and to be respectful with everybody.”

If money was not an option, what would you do with your days?

“I would take a holiday with my family and then save money in the bank and also give charity in the temples.”

What would you like to say to all the tourists?

“Just to be respectful to our religion.”

offerring-tray

What Made showed me in our time together, is the beauty in the simplicity of her life. Listening to her calm voice and her truly relaxed nature was a breath of fresh air. Even though I knew, when she left, driving a scooter though tons of traffic, she was still ‘all chilled out’.

If you liked this article, you may also like this one too, which explains the culture of Bali in depth.