Indonesia, February 9, 1998
Twenty-five years ago I was born on Bali
Twenty five years ago I was born on Bali, at the hospital
in the city of Denpasar. My parents were living in Australia at
the time and my Mom had a dream about me. She dreamed she would
give birth to me on Bali, so off they went. My Mom is the wild one
in our family.
My parents were living on Bali for a while before the fateful day. One February day in 1973, my parents went surfing. My Dad was body surfing huge Indian Ocean waves on Kuta beach, with my Mom, nine months pregnant, surfing on an inflatable raft in the shorebreak. Dad remembers bodysurfing a huge rouge wave, and on his way to shore realizing his son would be born that day.
They were at dinner when my Mom was surprised by her water breaking. An alarmed couple, the woman obviously in labour, made an interesting, and profitable proposition to the taxi drivers waiting outside the restaurant. After a bargaining session, where the price went up every time a labour pain hit my Mom, they were off to the hospital.
Mom demanded an English speaking doctor when she was presented with Balinese midwife birthing team. The only English speaking doctor was a man, unallowable in the birthing room in 1973 Bali. After a few choice words were exchanged he was allowed, but had to be behind a screen. I was born at 5 am, and life was good.
Baby's ears are not able too equalize right after birth, so my parents had to stay in Bali for a few months, oh darn! They moved from the beach in the artist community of Ubud in the hills of Bali. There they rented a house in the rice fields from two enterprising Indonesians, Rassman and his brother-in-law Swueko.
We lived in Swueko's house, but paid Rassman for the accommodations and the new cement block kitchen he built. Prior to the kitchen, he would cook meals in the bathroom, which wold be questionable even in a home with running water.
We lived there for three months, then the government of Indonesia politely asked us to leave. They are smart. If it wasn't for the iron-clad 60 day visa limit, quite a few people would go to visit, and never leave. Rassman figured his out early on, and so he started renting out his home to tourists who wanted to stay the full 60 days in Ubud. He started with one place, Swuekos, and now he has four homes and Swueko has three. He came quite a way from the poor rice farmer my parents knew.
Part of my trip to Bali was to see Rassman again. I figured he wouldn't recognize me now, I've changed a bit in 25 years, but I wanted to know more about this man my parents spoke of so much. When I finally found Rassman, I was quite excited. I hoped for an evening of memories about my family's time with him and his life since then. Unfortunately, Rassman didn't remember anything about us. Nothing, nada, zip. It was quite a blow to me.
How dare anyone forget me?!
I guess my unique personality wasn't obvious at that young of an age. Twenty-five years of foreigners living in his home, and my lack of photos of him and my parents together, probably didn't do much to help. His English and my Indonesian were not good enough to get past the basics of life. I'm not even sure if he understood who I was, or even cared. Life is still hard for an Indonesian.