Incongruity is celebrated on the eve of the Balinese Festival, Galungan, in the form of a band playing cover songs at a small warung on Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud, to a lively eclectic group of customers who appear to be propositioned by the band to partake of a surrealism that defies logic. The song that permeates the sinews is Sweet Home Alabama. I sit at the bar and order a double Water of Life on the rocks. The cold sweet taste comforts me as I slowly relax. The massage at Spa Kalangan on Sangiganan has slowed down my metabolism and given one a sense of peace.
This is Bali. And it gets even better…
As the night wears on to a string of songs played threadbare, the bartender gently reminds me that I have to leave early next morning for the few hours’ drive to the North East coast of the isle to meet with a Yoga master (I had instructed him to stir me to reality if I submerged myself in the nuances of paradise). I pay my bill and walk home breathing like a steam engine. The famed Ramayana cigars from Java help with the wheezing.
Early next morning the vehicle weaves its way along the road hugging the coastline. Headless chickens in the form of youngsters riding motorcycles run amok on the Sanur Bypass to Candi Dasa and beyond. Soon Amed appears on the horizon like a mirage. Fortunately, what you see is what you get and I am soon lying horizontal on a pool side bed with Nyoman (my favorite masseur) kneading my muscles to pulp.
I am staying at Wawawewe II which is well known for its bohemian guests and hospitality.
Ever since one discovered Wawawewe II a small hotel situated on the beach at Bunutan, Amed, it has become a place of sanctuary from the cacophony of a burgeoning tourist economy. The Proprietor, Made Donge Sudana (pronounced Maaday), is an obliging chap with a deep sense of priority like welcoming you with a thousand year smile and a hand shake that would dislodge any notion of “is this reality?”
Later in the day when the sun is less offensive, I telephone Boy Made, a thirtyish Balinese chap who runs a small shop on Lipah beach a short distance away hawking silver trinkets and semi-precious stones to meet me with his latest ‘collection’.
Boy Made arrives with a disarming smile and a conniving look on his face. He has been a yoga teacher for the last two years. Every so often he buys ‘exotic’ looking stones from Javanese traders and when he has a range he calls me to Amed for a look see and my opinion which is short and sweet for it begins and ends with the question, ‘what is the price?’.
Boy Made or Kacut Made was born on December 10, 1974, to a family in Singaraja that were living on the edge of poverty. A few years in primary school and many stints washing utensils in restaurants drove him away from home to Amed in 1997 in search of a better life. He began working for Warung Brith on Lipah beach and after a year or so moved to Wawawewe I (Café) which is nearby. It was here on Saturday nights when the band from Amlapura would play mangled versions of popular western songs that he met many fair faces from foreign lands that had come to Bali to find themselves (whatever this means). The ensuing decadence was invigorating at first but then it digressed into a monotony that brought on ennui with a vengeance. His life shuttled between the ebb and flow of tourists. Emptiness gripped him and soon he withdrew from the ‘high life’ and crawled into his room every night to avoid the revelry that punctuated the nocturnal hours. Made’s dreams became very colorful and often he would awake to the loud rhythms of the spirit world. It appeared that he was stranded between two worlds – Sekala and Nishkala – the Seen and Unseen.
His predicament was short lived for on a full moon night in walked Ram, a visiting Indian Yoga Master who was traversing the isle for a short while before heading back to the banks of the Ganga in Northern India. Ram recognized Made’s anguish and to heal this lost soul he shared his knowledge with Made and also taught him yoga.
In 2007 Made fell in love and married Ni Anik, a pretty Balinese lass. A year later a baby boy was born to them. He is called Putu.
Made practices and teaches three forms of Yoga, Pranayama, Hatha and Suryanamasker, to Indonesians, expats and tourists. He has taught over 500 people till date.
“So where do you want to go from here, Bli (it means brother in Balinese)?” I ask expectantly.
“I want to set up an ashram and teach my own brand of Yoga – Ishwara Yoga. My spirit tells me that I have to help all the people who come here to Amed like I have been helped by Ram. The problem most people face is that they are too caught up in the material world. I want, I want, I want, is all that they ask for. Many have become lost in their own wants. Once we have stopped ‘wanting’ and begin giving and sharing not only our wealth but also our love, affection and friendship without expecting anything in return, will we achieve inner peace.” He replies.
“But why set up an ashram in Amed and not anywhere else in Bali?”
“Amed is very special to me for it has five natural springs next to a small shrine dedicated to the Goddess at Toya Masem. It is a few minutes’ drive into the nearby hills to village Bangli. The energy I feel whenever I make offerings and the curative powers of the five kinds of water (salty/sweet/sour/sweet sour/bitter) that I collect from the springs helps me help others who come to me to learn Yoga and meditasi,” he replies in a quiet voice as if contemplating on every word.
I get up and beckon Made to follow me down to the beach which is strewn with rocks and pebbles. A few tourists can be seen snorkeling in the reef in front of the hotel.
“Do you have a message for the readers of Maxx-M?” I ask.
“Bli what do you want me to say? Huh? Come to Bali to find yourself? Yes! Come to Bali and make a mess of the environment? No! As you probably know Bali is being polluted by all kinds of materials and lifestyles that create problem for all of us. People must understand the Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana – harmony between Human and God, harmony between Human and Human, harmony between Human and the environment. How can we become spiritual if we desecrate our environment by throwing plastic everywhere? Look at this beach you can see for yourself all types of plastic waste. We should ban all plastic bags and begin a cleaning up operation in Bali. If we don’t do this immediately the Gods will do it for us and we will perish. So my message to all – please don’t use plastic bags,” he replies in a high pitched tone.
I’ll sign off now as the sun is setting and the full moon is rising over Lombok. Wish you were here dear readers to join me for an Arak attack and kacang goreng pedas.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om