Creative Licence up for renewal

2 Comments

A celebration-mark-ulyseas

This is my 50th weekly column for The Bali Times. It would have been the 52nd but for the Christmas Week and the fact that I missed a deadline this year. All in all it has been one invigorating, vibrating, intensive year that has seen Bali grow in business, pleasure and most of all, peace. I am grateful to the following people who have been a source of sustenance, spiritual and ‘otherwise’:

My friends, Tjok Raka Kerthyasa and his gorgeous wife Asri of the Ubud Royal Family; Editor in Chief, William.J.Furney who has had to treat me on some occasions like a schoolboy playing truant; my family especially my two sisters Ela Gori in the USA and Sarita Kaul in Bali, both have often pulled me from dark depression and the wild life; Ketut Suardana and Janet de Neefe have gently introduced me to the exclusive Balinese society; Sioned Emrys and Nia Williams my Welsh connection of love and hope; my beloved Manon de Jongh; Jill Gocher who has used the carrot and stick quite effectively to get me to write; And lastly and more importantly all my Balinese friends in Kuta, Ubud, Lovina, Singaraja, Amed and Padang Bai. To all these wonderful people I fold my hands and say in Hindi, Shukreya, thank you.

When I walked into William’s office in August last year to peddle my wares I was hesitant about the outcome. Happily it has been a roller coaster ride with culture chameleons, karma mechanics, birds of paradise, rice farmers, royalty, warungs, sleazy greasy bars, stylish pretty boys, cigarettes and cell phones with no pulsa, music, salsa nights and fading memories of a lost childhood. Much water has flowed under the bridge carrying away the dregs of the past. The religiosity, weather, food and women, played a decisive role in discarding the excess baggage of hopes, desires and false notions of paradise peppered with paradoxes, forcing me to come face to face with myself in a small Balinese village.

Now as the dust settles in the brain and thought processes start up like a blender that churns, kneads, minces and grinds all the words to pulp, the images of an enchanting ethos comes roaring back like a steam engine gone amuck. Sanity hangs in balance as one attempts to share the myriad images each jostling for space in the viewfinder.

The numerous trips across the isle have helped in broadening one’s views and opinions about rising prices of essential commodities, Bali kopi, rice, minimum wage and the headless chickens in the form of youngsters cruising the roads of death. One continues to ask – how many young people need to die before we realise the price of life?

And when will the madness end in the lanes of Bali where sometimes people fall prey to banned substances and sign their own death warrants by a momentary lapse of indiscretion or foolhardiness?

Questions raise their ugly heads like plastic floating down sacred rivers after the rains. The sanctity of the isle is slowly being defiled by an army of people from other countries racing to pitch a tent and claim a piece of land in the hope that a slice of nirvana can be theirs for a few dollars. Above the cacophony of bidders one can hear the sacred chants of the Balinese and the voices of the Gods through the Gamelan.

Often one has walked the walk down rice fields past villas and small bamboo dwellings pondering the futility of existence with all the trappings of material wealth; the pointlessness of ravaging the beautiful earth to build monstrosities that mock all that is spiritually ordained for the isle.

The Balinese have taken shelter in their religion and customs. The cloak of centuries old traditions like ceremonies has protected them from the acid rain of western values.

Throughout the isle there are watering holes and resting places for expats treading the beaten path looking for a quickie with the culture. They hope to return to their concrete jungle with the satisfaction of having rubbed shoulders with another civilisation by carrying mementos like handicrafts, some cheap replicas on canvas and trinkets of a kind that their ancestors gave to the natives.

But then there are expats like Robin Lim, the legendary mid wife; the East Bali Poverty Project; the many social programs of the Rotary Club; individuals like John and Eileen from Oz who have adopted two Balinese families and more. The list keeps growing by the day of long-term resident expats and those visiting who are returning to Bali what others have been taking away for so long.

Ketut Suardana has sensitised me to the intensive culture of his people, often taking me to temples, holy men, sharing his food and home. This has opened the doors to a whole new world that exists beyond the eye and earshot of the expat enclave of know-alls who sit around watering holes waxing eloquent about the Balinese. It is through him that I met I Nyoman Suradnya the Batik Painter, a master who abhors the growing number of art galleries that are adulterating creativity to the point of extinction. Nyoman introduced me to Tjok Raka Swastika, the Gamelan Master, who shared his personal views with me about his art form and the desire to continue promoting it worldwide.

In August 2007 I wrote a special report for The Bali Times on leprosy in Bali. When I approached my expat friends to help me locate the lepers I was berated for wanting to write about ugliness in paradise. Fortunately my Balinese friends helped me meet the lepers and to interview them with assistance from the Banjar. This incident showed me in no uncertain terms that the Balinese are willing to accept a problem like this and to deal with it.

Admittedly this soliloquy seems to be a bit disjointed but that is how the year has been – some enlightening moments when navigating Jalan Dyanapura at 2 am, conversing with the Kuta cowboys and cowgirls on Kuta beach or sharing a Ramayana cigar with a traffic cop and discussing the accident statistics interspersed with the latest gossip surrounding Bollywood stars and their shenanigans.

Some other encounters have reminded one of Calcutta of the 1960s, of a misplaced people struggling for an identity that eluded them. They were the Anglo-Indians. In Bali fleeting images of them can be seen on the faces of some expats and their beautiful ‘Indo-Mix’ children who are marooned between cultures living a life with tenacity and joy, ignoring the pain of unbelonging. Skin colours, religious ceremonies, languages and dreamscapes merge to form a bridge that crosses the minefield of subtleties of the all-pervasive religion – Hinduism, to one of pluralism.

This waltz between peoples of many lands enhances one’s perceptions and hopes, which induces a delightful feeling of being part of a whole.

However, there have been instances of sudden surges of emotions on full moon nights that threatened to capsize one’s life. Fortunately an angel in the form of Nikki Kovesi told me to walk into a rice field on a full moon night and converse with the spirits. This was done after having imbibed enough spirits to set myself on fire, if one so desired. It worked. No more emotive recklessness.

The loneliness of a writer had its moments for it magnified all the insecurities, desires and sexual tensions. This column, Paradox in Paradise, for a time became the anchor that brought about coherence to one’s existence. And for this I have no regrets.

One misses the birds of paradise that have flown the coop and nested in the great unknown for they had shared their knowledge of innocence with me. The experience reverberates in one’s consciousness like the feeling of standing in a belfry when the bells are rung.

There are many more stories to be shared with you dear readers but before they see the light of day I must renew my creative licence with William J Furney: Then and only then can I drive my pen across Bali to trace patterns of a wondrous life that continuously regurgitates a paradox – the regulator of reality in paradise.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

-Congratulations to Mark on his 50th column for us, an important series that has opened up Bali to readers here and around the world and explored the vibrant nature of the island and its equally vivacious inhabitants. Here’s to another 50 columns – so, Mark, consider your creative license renewed. William

Advertisements

We are the Paradox

1 Comment

slipperThis week’s column is about the use or should I say misuse of religion to suit our (expats) personal needs on the isle. We hop, skip and jump between religions converting at the drop of a hat to get married in paradise. However, we never forget not to make the necessary legal changes in passports, names et al, including not following the teachings of the adopted religion, thereby keeping options open for a graceful retreat to the environs of our delusions. For many, religion has become a means to an end – happy endings in conjugal joy.

Marriages apparently are made in heaven. Or so they say. Reality in Bali reflects another picture; People changing their religion like they change their clothes to suit the fair of face that one is about to join in holy matrimony. Arguments abound defending these actions that resonate in the morals and ethics of a people who have arrived on the shores of Bali to reside with their memories. Some hope to relive the passions of the past by attempting to recreate a home with all the trappings of a family and donning the respectability of married life.

Many among us carry names like Mohammad, Yusuf or Ali hidden in our wallets. We are afraid to let anyone know who we have become by wearing a mask of pretence, which doesn’t fool anyone – except ourselves. We retain our names that we are born with, while at the same time pledging to follow the teachings of Islam and abide by its tenets.

Then there are others who have become Hindus whilst keeping alive the faith and culture of their upbringing for they are afraid of losing their identity in the maze of the enchanting living-breathing ethos of the Balinese.

And life carries on in Bali oblivious to the dumb charades that we play among ourselves.

No one is the wiser, except our God/s.

What is it that instigates us to abandon the religious teachings of childhood? Is it an easy way out of the morass of a society that tries to control our feelings and deliberately guides us down a path that appears to take us away from ourselves? These questions often seep through our consciousness to awaken us in the night to our dreams of our faith – faith in a religion we were born into.

Is it love, compassion or sheer carnal joy that makes us want to disrobe ourselves of our faith so that we can partake of and possess another person’s body, soul and religion? Some vehemently defend their actions with well-crafted words like ‘we must respect the other’s religion we don’t want to hurt the sentiments of the spouse’s relatives’, conveniently ignoring the question of their own religion just like a horse with blinkers in a stud farm that only sees the rear of one horse.

And there are others who have come to find themselves on the isle because their religiosity has faded and frayed by the continuous friction in the consumerist society from whence they cometh. These innocent folk delve into the realms of an ancient faith hoping to discover within its folds the ambrosia that would give them a new lease and meaning to life. They too marry into the faith vainly attempting to ‘borrow’ beliefs that could resuscitate their souls without first comprehending the language of a people which is the key to unlocking the knowledge of the ‘new world’.

According to a friend it is conceivable that these folks have not really understood the religion that they have been brought up with and therefore have discarded it because of confused notions of it having failed them in their lives. Today, religion is used as a means of transport from one culture to another and the tool that fixes personal aspects like marriage, when all else fails. For example, the solution to getting rid of a troublesome spouse left behind in the home country who refuses to give one a divorce is to change one’s religion in order to marry another on the isle.

A newly wed once told me that change of one’s faith as a means to connubial bliss is a question of personal choice, therefore using it for one’s benefit is not wrong. I suppose this argument sustains itself in so far as untruth is concerned. The rest is disposable. For when we cross the threshold of one religion and enter another we leave our reasoning behind, as we are afraid to accept the truth that we have abandoned the faith our parents taught us.

And if we beget children with our newfound culture what happens then? What will we teach them? About the shopping malls we left behind or the truths of our childhood? When the children grow up what will become of their faith? Will they too abandon what has been taught and scuttle to another culture, another faith for shelter from their ignorance?

Let us revert to the earlier life – the one prior to Bali. A closer examination may reveal an alarming incongruity in our lifestyle that fuelled the urge to dump our faith and make haste to paradise with the idea of creating a meaning to life, a meaning to existing on this planet with a purpose.

The eastern religions beckon us with their intoxicating aromas and colourful customs that border on dreamscapes the likes of which we have never partaken of before. We reach out like drowning sewer rats trying desperately to keep afloat and to understand what life has to offer us in paradise. Some say it is this desperation that makes us do what we do – like converting to another religion.

In the end we overlook the fact we have only made farcical changes. Deep down the hurt, loneliness and guilt reside like a recoiling spitting cobra ready to rise and strike us blind with reality. Usually it never does, except in extreme cases when divorce ends the fairy tale. Fortunately, the beginning of another ‘happy ending’ quickly follows it. So we continue our journey on the road of convenience – the convenience of changing one’s religion to match physical desires and misconceptions of the benefits of obtaining membership of another religion, another culture.

Could it be that we have unwittingly become the personification of a paradox in paradise that confuse and confound and yet in a strange sort of way gives many of us a sense of belonging?

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

The Royal Cremation in Ubud – July 15, 2008.

7 Comments

Pic of Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa with the Naga Banda (dragon) by mark ulyseas.

In conversation with Prince Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa of the Ubud Royal Family and brother of the late head of the Ubud Royal Family, Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, whose cremation will take place along with others on July 15th 2008 in Ubud. I have narrated a simple version of the events of the day.

In the first half of the last century when an Indian dignitary visiting Bali uttered the words, ‘I see India all around me but I don’t recognise it’, he couldn’t have been closer to the truth. For instance, when marriages are celebrated in India families pull out all the stops and go for broke. In Bali it is the other way round, cremations are like Indian marriages but without the ostentatious ness. However, the common thread between the two cultures is the reverence with which the last rites are performed – the cremation and the subsequent rituals that make up the intricate weave of the religious fabric of a pulsating living culture.

On March 28, 2008, the head of the Ubud Royal Family, Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa passed away. As it was not an auspicious time to cremate him, the Padanda (high priest) of the Klungkung palace fixed July 15th, 2008 for the cremation. Since the death of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa his mortal remains has been embalmed and kept in the Puri Saren Kauh – central/west area of the Puri Agung Ubud (palace). It is appropriately placed on a decorated structure surrounded by offerings with the fragrance of incense permeating the air.

Since March, the community has rallied around the royal family every evening at the Puri to reminisce, eat food, play cards etc. It is the public sharing of grief by the community for the late Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa who was affectionately called Panglingsir Puri Ubud (the wise one) by the people of Ubud and the surrounding areas. In the words of his brother and Prince Tjkorda Raka Kerthyasa, “He believed in the policy of working closely with the community with Bakti Asih (faith and compassion). He always emphasised that the palace could not be a palace without the community”.

On July 15th the cremations of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, his nephew Tjokorda Gede Raka, aunt Desak Raka and 68 members of the community will take place in Ubud. This is symbolic of the Gotong Royong system (mutual assistance) between the members of the royal family and the community. It is evident to all when cremations are held side by side on the same day.

To enlighten the readers of The Bali Times and WordPress about the approaching day when people from over 70 villages are expected to descend on Ubud I met Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa of the Ubud Royal Family and brother of the late Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, to discuss the upcoming event the likes of which Bali has not seen for a number of years. Over a glass of banana lassi he told me about the preparations that have gone into the mammoth ceremony and the rituals that will be witnessed by one and all.

He said that the four Banjars of Ubud have galvanised 60 to 70 villages for making the decorations, preparing the offerings, producing the two giant effigies of bulls and the three bamboo towers that would be the vehicles for the three deceased royals to the cremation ground. The main tower on which Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa’s body will be placed is 27metres high and weighs over 11 tonnes. A total of six thousand people in rotation will help carry the tower.

Till date over 125 tonnes of rice has been used for offerings and to feed people; and an unfathomable amount of steaming cups of Bali Kopi, colourful seaweed jelly and other food offered to all visitors to the palace and those helping in the preparations.

On July the 13th the gigantic effigy of the bull of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa and the Naga Banda (dragon) will be carried in procession from Peliatan Palace to the Ubud palace after the priests have purified and blessed them prior to placing them next to his body that is in the special bale at the palace.

At 6 a.m. on the cremation day all structures, effigies and decorations even those of the community will be cleansed with a ritual blessing conducted by the Padanda. About two hours later at 8 a.m. the main roof of each tower will be mounted. (Please check the timings).

The funeral ceremony will commence after 12 noon when the sun begins its westward journey. At the crossroads in front of the palace the Padanda will ‘shoot’ the effigy of the Naga Banda (dragon) with an arrow to symbolise the killing of the dragon that binds the soul to earthly attachments including acts committed by the deceased in his or her lifetime. After this the first procession will begin in an easterly direction to Dalampuri about one km from the palace where the cremation of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa and his nephew will occur.

Over 300 women and children carrying offerings will lead the procession; the bull of Tjokorda Raka and the gigantic bull of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa will follow it. After this will come the tower of Tjokorda Gede Raka holding his body and then the Naga Banda (dragon) whose tail will be entwined at the base of the main mammoth tower holding the remains of the late head of the Ubud Royal family, Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa. In the vanguard will be the Bale Ganjur, the musical instruments and their versatile players. At regular intervals in the procession there will be musicians playing various instruments.

When the first procession has left the second will begin westwards to the Ubud Village Cremation Ground about 700 meters from the palace. It will consist of the tower carrying the remains of Desak Raka followed by those of the 68 members of the community.

Often there are Balinese who cannot afford a cremation so the deceased is usually buried and exhumed when sufficient money is available and cremated on an auspicious day. It goes without saying that members of each Banjar pitches in with money and materials for the cremation of its members.

At the cremation ground the body of Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa like his nephew’s will be removed from the tower and placed inside the respective bull that is a representation of mother earth. Each clan has its own ‘animal symbol’ like a lion, tiger, elephant, fish etc. Only the holy priests use a white bull. After the bull has been burnt the family along with the Padanda will remove his remains from the ashes and rearrange it in the form of a human figure on a white cloth. The Padanda will then take those parts that represent the vital organs, grind them and place the ground pieces in a young coconut that has been decorated with great care. The family will carry the coconut and the other remains on the white cloth to Matahari Terbit beach, Sanur. Here they will board a boat to throw the ashes into the sea.

This is the procedure that will be followed by the relatives of all those that have been cremated. So after the cremations a cavalcade of hundreds of vehicles is expected to depart Ubud for Sanur.

On return to Ubud from Sanur every family will perform a ceremony called Mepegat: the final severing of the physical/emotional attachment to the Pitara (soul) of the deceased. It is the freeing of the Pitara from its worldly bondage and also a final good bye to the loved one.

For three days from July 27th to the 30th the members of the royal family will conduct a ceremony (like all other Balinese), which is the purification of the Pitara to enable it to become Dewa Pitara or one with god. After this the Pitara is kept in the house temple, for example, in the form of water. During these three days the palace will be decorated in the colours of white and yellow that represents purification of the Pitara.

Don’t let the crowds or traffic dissuade you. Come to Ubud and be part of a moving spiritual experience that is intrinsic to the living culture of Bali.

And maybe when you return to your country a part of paradise will remain in your heart, mind and soul.

Om shanti shanti shanti om

Rice – A handful of life.

Leave a comment

I dedicate this week’s column to all the rice farmers of Indonesia who help feed the nation.

Introduction: This is about the staple food of nearly two thirds of the world’s population – rice. In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of the 20th century many Asian countries had been able to feed their starving millions. It brought about a prosperity that unleashed a massive surge of industrial development thereby being directly instrumental in the creation of mega cities that today boast of ultra modern facilities. In spite of the technological advancements and the rise of prosperity in the Middle Class, ‘subsistence living’ and hunger have remained the common denominator in the Asian Diasporas. According to some experts, one of the reasons has been the constant rise in food prices due to the increase in energy costs. So the poor are left with one basic essential to keep them alive – a bowl of rice. Unfortunately, the price of this bowl of rice has just gone up, again.

Where does one begin; in the underground tunnels with the Viet Cong in the 60s, with Gandhi on the Dandi March in the first half of the last century or on the streets of Paris in 1789 with rioters demanding bread.

You may ask – what do these three have in common? The first won the Vietnam War with a handful of rice; the second brought down the British rule in India with a handful of salt and the third changed France forever with food riots that ended in a bloodbath. There are people out there who would disagree with this hypothesis for it attempts to simplify complex issues relating to race, culture, political affiliations and religious beliefs. In essence it was food that decided the outcome of the Vietnam War, the non-violent movement in India and the French Revolution.

Food will always determine the political health and future of a country for it is the catalyst of life.

In Asia the staple food is rice. Here in Indonesia and in particular in Bali it is part of the jigsaw puzzle that completes the picture perfect of a people who have toiled the good earth to sustain their lives and honour their Gods. The result has been the continuance of a vibrant religious culture.

A month ago while sampling Cajun chicken and Cajun dirty rice at Devilicious, a small warung on Jalan Gootama, Ubud, I bumped into Dan Kennedy an American who has done his Masters in Agriculture from an Ivy League College. He is an expert in the field of agriculture and has been working in Africa and Asia for the last two decades. We confabulated into the wee hours of the morning about the importance of rice in the daily life of an Asian. Since then we have become good friends.

A few days after the encounter with Dan, I spoke to Made who is a rice farmer. This is what he had to say:

“I have been a farmer for the last 15 years. This land which you see me planting rice saplings on is 25 are. It belonged to me a long time ago. I had to sell it, as the rice production could not sustain my family of six. Now I cultivate this land for the new owner. We share the cost of production (seedlings/fertilisers) and the harvest 50-50. However, at the time of harvesting we get people from Java to help us. In return I pay them in rice from my share of the 50%. The rice I carry home after every crop is just enough to feed the family so there is no surplus to sell. We get two crops a year. In the interim time between harvests I do odd jobs to pay the bills for my school going children and my aged parents. My wife works as a Pembantu when she’s not sick or looking after my parents and our children. If I owned land today I would sell it to a Bule for his villa. A number of my friends have done the same as in the long run one earns much more money and it’s so easy. We don’t have to work so hard just for a bowl of rice.”

I met Dan over a Po’boy sandwich at Devilicious prior to writing this column so I could pick his brain and seek his views on the continuing conversion of rich fertile rice lands into commercial properties for Malls, Villas etc.; And what could be done to increase rice production on the dwindling farmlands in Bali thereby ensuring the prosperity of the farmers in question.

“Mark there is no perfect solution to this vexing problem. However, some of the following suggestions are already being implemented on the isle…”

I have paraphrased his response for the sake of brevity.

—————-From Ubud down to the south are the fertile lands of rice fields. However, it is these lands that are fast being converted for commercial use. The reality is that one cannot halt development. The commercial establishments that come up employ many people. This creates personal wealth and lifts the overall standard of living.

However, food is the basic ingredient for sustaining life and more importantly keeping a culture alive. Therefore, the price of basic food items must be within the reach of the poor but at the same time being profitable enough for the farmer to carry on his trade. This is a dilemma for most governments – the balancing act between haves and have-nots.

The increase in energy costs worldwide has affected the prices of all commodities. In developed countries like USA, Japan and Australia the average household expenditure on food has risen from 8% to 12% approx. In the case of Developing Countries in Asia it has shot up from 60% to 80%; The impact being felt on the poorer sections of society.

Here in Bali prices have been rising and the people are spending a lot more money on food. See The Bali Times, Paradox in Paradise, Silence of the Lambs, issue dated May 2-8, 2008. Coupled with this is the reality that the dwindling area under cultivation only decreases food production thereby fuelling increase in prices.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. So in short there are programs that have been launched on the isle to introduce intensive farming. You may ask what is intensive farming? Here’s a brief explanation.

01. Transplanting rice seedlings when they are 7 to 10 days old instead of the normal 20/30 days.

02. Planting one seedling in a hole. Presently 3 to 4 seedlings are planted together.

03.The distance between plants is normally 15 cm. With the new system it is up to 50cm apart.

04.Alternate flooding and draining of the field to conserve water and increase plant growth. It is a fallacy that the rice fields need to be flooded at all times.

Results of intensive farming techniques:
Lot more root growth, more oxygen to the rice plant, more nutrients resulting in more panicles (rice stems). Only 50% of water used for irrigation. Crop output increases from the usual 2-3 tonnes per hectare to about 12-15 tonnes per hectare.

George Monbiot writes in The Guardian; “the Nobel Economist, Amartya Sen discovered that there is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield. Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay.” He goes on to refer to a recent study of farming in Turkey that revealed that farms with less than a hectare are 20 times as productive as farms of more than 10 hectares! ——————————————-

To sum it up in lay man’s terms – we can use more land for commercial use but we need to ensure that intensive farming is implemented across the isle because this method of cultivation uses less land, less water, less fertilisers and gives a much higher yield per hectare.

But there exists one unresolved issue and that is the price of rice. Suppressing the purchase price from the farmer to make it affordable for all consumers creates a piquant situation – why should a farmer sell his produce below the ‘actual’ value and what incentive is there for him to continue to be a farmer? But then again how will those living on the edge of humanity survive and feed their offspring?

My friend Augustian, a painter who hails from Sumatra, told me that on Zakat Fitrah (30th day of Ramadan) a form of tax for the 30 day period is paid (as an offering to Allah) in the form of two and a half percent of the month’s earnings in cash or the equivalent in rice to the Masjid, which in turn distributes the same to the poor people so that they can celebrate Id-ul-Fitri.

In Bali rice is eaten and served to the Gods in all offerings. According to Made the farmer, “Brother, a handful of rice is a handful of life”.

Rice is much more than food; it embodies the universe. By sustaining its cultivation and making it affordable for all we are in truth preserving life and honouring our Maker.

I shall end here with a prayer that the rights of the less privileged (read as poor people) across the planet be enshrined in the Constitutions of all countries under the heading – The Right to Eat.

Note: The assumptions arrived at in this column have been inspired by the following books: Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond: A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan: A History of India by Romila Thapar: And conversations with Balinese farmers, a villa owner and Dan Kennedy.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om