A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: Indonesia

I remember saying, back in Delhi, that the traffic was a whole different kind of crazy. We had known Arc du Triomphe crazy, Rome crazy, even Naples’ total craziness, but never as crazy as in India. In India however, we rarely walked to our destinations. Our guide would get us a tuk-tuk or a car and off we would go. Alternatively, in SE Asia, we only hire guides for very specific excursions and we mostly walk everywhere which brings me back to my a whole different kind of crazy road traffic.

In Europe as in North America, cars will actually stop for pedestrians (although you may be fined for jaywalking in certain circumstances). In SE Asia, this does not seem to be part of any road law. In these countries, one crosses the road at one’s risks and perils. We have had near misses, but have somehow evaded an actual accident. Every time I get to a new city in SE Asia, the first thing I do is to try and find a clinic, a hospital, a doctor’s office or even a healer. In Bali, I was happy to find that we lived across from a dentist; it’s a form of doctor after all, isn’t it? I keep telling myself that if we get hurt, we would need to know where to go. There is no easy 911 # we can dial (nor do we have a phone since it was stollen in… yep SE Asia), so if we get hurt on the road, we need to know where to go quickly. I’m sure we would get a million offers for taxi services (a new pet peeve of mine: the constant badgering of taxi drivers on the side of the road… you must live it to understand it), but… would we know where to go?

As my previous posts can attest, we have had amazing adventures in these parts of the world, but yesterday as I was reflecting on our voyages, and also reading on the protests in Vietnam, I had the feeling that we put ourselves in harm’s way. Regrettably, I believe I will leave this part of the world with a feeling of loss and apprehension. I wonder if I will be able to feel safe again, the kind of safe where I can carry a Kate Spade bag without thinking about the fact that is does not have a shoulder strap, and that my phone may be visible. I have always been a cautious individual, one who had to face the wrong side of Vanier at a very young age, one who lived alone in Toronto at age 18, and  one who had traveled to many European countries before embarking on this world adventure. But living in SE Asia for as long as I have, I feel I have regressed to Maslow’s safety level, where a feeling of safety for my family must be met before I am able to fulfill higher needs.

Sometimes all I see is beauty surrounding me, but on other days this beauty is transposed into tragedy, and on those days, I see how a community can renounce a girl on religious grounds for getting pregnant, offering her a life of solitude and neglect; I see how a person, born in a lower caste family, is banned from higher learning; I see how animals are bled out as offerings to the gods; and I mostly see how the beauty of simplicity has been corrupted by the tourist industry, shaping locals to become greedy and individualistic.

Please note here that although Bali has been quite affected by the tourist industry, it seemed to have maintained the virtue of cooperation and collaboration within its compound and community, which is very heartwarming.

The road my family and I have been on since the beginning of this calendar year has not always been easy, but nor is life after all. Even if this post reads as a farewell to Asia, we actually have one more stop on our itinerary: Hong Kong. We leave for this mega city tomorrow afternoon, and will spend the last two weeks of our adventure scouting the city for hidden treasures. I am certainly looking forward to it, but I cannot hide the fact that I am also glad to be returning home shortly; our family is starting to crave the normalcy and relative safety of our suburban life.

Ah, the complexities of the 210-day Balinese calendar! It is fascinating as well as mind-boggling. I just finished writing my article about the concept of time in Bali and the questions it has raised within our family. I have bought a book and borrowed another, ask our guide some questions and listened to our housekeeper’s stories, but no foreigner can fully understand how, for the people in Bali, time is seen and felt in a whole different way then the teachings of the inflexible Gregorian calendar. I could go on and on, but like I say in my article (to be published in June), I am no expert nor a follower. I do not pretend to fully grasp this idea of time related cosmic balance, and I fully accept that my occidental interpretation may certainly be biased, and therefore inaccurate.

I do however observe the passage of time, and will be sad to see my parents-in-law leave for Ottawa later tonight. Their addition to our family for the past three weeks has been pleasant, and has shifted the monotony of certain activities. Last week, my son spent quality time with his father and grand-father learning wood carving techniques. They spent two days in class, carving away under the expert eye of a master wood carver. They had a grand old time, and will not soon forget this new skill. Of course, coming home with new carving tools will help!

My Bali Gecko

My Bali Gecko

Take care Marguerite and Victor, we will soon be back in Ottawa also!