My Bali Baptism
It so happened that Tanya, the daughter of one of my closest friends from University arrived to stay with us. It was, in a manner of speaking, for her, a very important pilgrimage. Her Mother, Jeannette was born in Indonesia and was adopted when she was very young, by Marten Toonder and his wife Phiny, who lived at that time in Holland. Later they decided to live in Ireland with their family and that is how we came to meet.
Jeannette often expressed the wish to come to Indonesia, However she left this world before she had the opportunity. Hence Tanya’s visit was, in a way, a coming home. It was a wonderful moment for her, as everywhere she went she was greeted as if she were in fact Balinese. So indeed she felt as if she had come home.
One evening we were invited to the home of a Balinese Friend, who was well versed in the culture and history of Indonesia. We spent many hours in his company and listening to his stories. He was bombarded with a profusion of questions that Tanya needed to ask. He answered them all with such patient enthusiasm, that we forgot the time.
Meanwhile the Heavens opened and a mini deluge came lashing down…. and didn’t stop.
In Ireland we believe we know what rain is, well the famous rain of Ireland is but a gentle drizzle in comparison to what happens here…. when it rains.
We decided to make a dash for it any way, not wanting to keep our gracious host from his slumbers any more than we had already.
Luckily by the time we reached the narrow path home, the rain had stopped. However we discovered that one of our torches had died and the other was waning. It was decided that I go first with the dim light, Tanya would follow with Pedro at the rear. The idea being that he could perhaps steady her if she missed her step.
Well I put my foot where the path should have been to discover that the path was no longer where it ‘should’ have been. It had completely collapsed during the deluge. Sure enough, I stepped into nothingness and landed in the water channel that flowed beside the rice paddy. I managed to keep my balance and avoided the actual field itself until Pedro, being the gentleman he is, reached out to help me up. He missed his step and guess what, fell on top of me, sending us both toppling the rest of the way in what felt like a slow cartoonish motion…. face first into the smelly, slimy, sticky muck of freshly ploughed water flooded earth. It went in my eyes, my ears and even up my nose. I managed to avoid getting it in my mouth despite the fact that I was laughing so hard I thought I’d never be able to get up. I was so laden down with dripping mud that walking became a sloshing shuffle. Pedro fared better as he was protected from the worst of the mud bath by the convenience of my body.
So that is how Pedro and I had the unexpected pleasure of ‘sharing’ our Bali Baptism.
Tanya, our city guest who had never negotiated a pathway narrower than a London laneway, at night, remained mud less and pristine in her white dress. However she said the experience was priceless and would provide her with much laughter for years to come.