Sunday, 31 August 2008

the quiet before the storm...

Sunday 31st August 2008
tomorrow is the 1st of september and if you have been anywhere near the green school campus of late you would know what that means...OPENING DAY! yes, tomorrow after months and months of building and preparation, the school will open its' doors to just over 100 children. it is an amazing feat to be here on the eve of it all. the road has been rocky in spots, but it sure is gratifying to see it all through to fruition and to welcome those smiling children to their new classrooms. and so as i gaze at the lotus above, i imagine myself tomorrow as the epitomy of peace and serenity. i imagine myself treading lightly amongst the children who i have the joy to invite into their new environment. i imagine myself laughing and smiling with them as we explore together, see the wonder and enjoy the beauty around us. all this is possible, as long as i keep imagining, seeing it in my mind, keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts. and yes, always believing that everything will be alright...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

the answer my blowing in the wind

Wednesday 20th August 2008
some days i feel like i have far too many questions. some days i feel like i need to know the answer to all those questions now or else it will drive me over the edge. i feel the impatience rise within me and strive to inhale with a deep breath and remember the importance of taking time, of exhaling slowly, counting to ten before acting. i know that i have always strived to work for the things that i believe in. i have always tried to hold fast to the things that i believe in and keep them in my sights and never lose sight of them. for if i lose sight of those things, those guiding principles, then i am not being true to who i am. and that for me, would be the worst thing i could do.

it's been a rough few days with much to think over...and i feel just like this windmill photographed on the beach at Sanur, as it whirrs around, being blown whichever way the wind decides to move it. i look ahead to striving for stability, for feeling like my feet are planted more firmly in the ground and that my life, at some point will be fully under my own control and not susceptible to the whims of others.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

so where does all the chocolate come from?

Tuesday 19th August 2008
as someone who is such an addict of chocolate, i figured it was about time i found out a bit more about it and especially as we have lots of cacao trees on the campus here at school. well pictured above is the fruit from the cacao starts out green, then turns red and finally becomes yellow when it is ripe. so i picked one and brought it back to have an investigation.

when i cut it open, i found all these beautiful white segments inside. they tasted sweet and reminded me of mangosteen in their flavour. the cacao seed or bean, is in the middle of these little segments and these are eventually what are used to make chocolate. i have some of them drying at the moment on my window ledge as they are still covered in some of the white membrane of the flesh and i am hoping that it will dry enough so that i can peel it off. i can say that from what i did peek underneath, the bean is purple. i then explored further on the internet about how these beans are then used to make chocolate and it is fascinating. with just a few simple instruments one can make chocolate at home. that definitely sounds like an experiment to try.

i feel a lot more informed now taking those bites of chocolate...i mean, at least i know where all the chocolate comes from now!

Monday, 18 August 2008

the doorway to...

Monday 18th August 2008

the quality of craftsmanship here in Bali is truly amazing. i mean from the tiny trinkets on sale in the art markets to this - the doorway to what appeared to be a home. i mean how incredible is it! i can't say that i personally would want the doorway to my home to look like this...but as a piece of art it is truly astounding. the wooden carved doorway with the metal doors inset. you cannot help but stop and stare as you pass by. it might feel a little like the doorway to the depths of the darkest nightmares - especially with that demonic-type character overseeing all those who pass through. but to think that someone carved all that from wood...well like i said, the craftsmanship in Bali never fails to disappoint. wherever you go you have to remember to keep your eyes open at all times to catch those amazing creations all around you.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

just another day at the beach...

Sunday 17th August 2008

as you might have guessed by now...i am a serious anak pantai (beach child). i am happiest when i am by the sea. any stresses and anxiety i can imagine washing away under the gentle lulling of the waves. the water becomes an extension of my fingertips and all the things i want to let go of ebb away with the current. it's truly blissful! this weekend i had the greatest of luck to be invited by one of my fellow Green School-ers to the beach at Sanur where he lives. i have been to Sanur many times before in the past when i lived here and it never disappoints. the sand is beautiful and white and although it can be a bit rocky in spots, there are certainly plenty of places along the coastline to dip one's soul in the salty cocktail of the ocean. which i did, of course, with pure and utter abandon. i also enjoy how the beach is sprinkled with little pockets of colour as every now and then one comes across the parking ground of the fishing boats. they are beautifully constructed and painted a rainbow of colours and look adorable waiting patiently in the sand for their next put out to sea. some people say that Sanur is the 'old folks' beach, and although the age of people who visit there does tend to be older than one might encounter at somewhere like Kuta, it is peaceful and quiet and one is not particularly bothered by beach sellers, masseurs or hair-braiders! i enjoy it for the tranquility and of course the until my next salty dip fair ocean...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Mepantigan...the 1st open championship in Bali

Saturday 16th August 2008

the first Mepantigan championships were held this weekend in Bali at Green School. Mepantigan is a relatively new balinese art form and according to sources on the internet - Mepantigan is a form of Balinese martial arts that involves techniques of throwing and securing one's opponent that is found in self-defense traditions around the world. Mepantigan also includes Balinese drama, contemporary dance,and Balinese gamelan music. participants wear uniforms consisting of bebuletan(sarong), kancut(sarong ornamental border), guladginting(undergarment), and udeng(head-dress). these martial arts can be performed on the beach, in the mud or rice fields, or in any open space. practitioners of Mepantigan gain physical fitness, release stress, and learn valuable lessons in camaraderie and sportsmanship. in addition to gaining valuable skills and agility, both emotional and spiritual intelligence is emphasised. accordingto Putu Witsen Widjaya, the founder and senior teacher of Bali Mepantigan Arts and a martial arts champion, students of Mepantigan develop important characteristics and avoid violence while cultivating compassion. as he observed, "Wherever proper martial arts develop, evil will diminish and a respect for others will grow. this is particularly true for those who practice Mepantigan, which is a celebration of the spirit".

Thursday, 14 August 2008

airy fairy, quite contrary, how does your pineapple grow?

Thursday 14th August 2008

the wonder of growth! i recently spotted for the very first time, a growing pineapple! and it was such a miracle to me how it grows...i had no idea and was in such awe. and this is just a snippet of what i am learning while being here. the wonder of growth is all around me here on the Green School campus as i walk through the grounds every day and see another sign of the speed at which things grow here. recently we have also been having some rain and the effect this has had is astounding...all the living fences that have been planted around the campus are suddenly sprouting green shoots and leaves. i feel so invigorated and rejuvenated being surrounded by so much growth. i see the endless possibilities in each day. i see the wonder of life. i feel the power of the earth and it runs right through me with each step i take. i breathe and know that no matter what everything will be alright (not just because Bob Marley said so) but because i feel it and am empowered by the wonder in everything. i remember every day what it feels like to be a child again as i experience everything again with fresh eyes and learn things that i never knew or had long since forgotten. i close my eyes and am thankful for opportunities...

Monday, 11 August 2008

a bug's life!

Monday 11th August 2008
ok, so what do you do when you come home and you see the scariest looking creature just hanging out on your mosquito be a complete and utter girly-girl and go in search of campus security and plead with them that there is a massive bug in your bedroom and tell them you won't be able to sleep unless they help you take it away! don't ask me how i struck up the courage to actually photograph it...i mean my heart was really pounding i kept thinking that mid-photo it would just make a dive at me or land on me or something to such effect. i thought for a nano-second of putting my finger near it so that you could get a proper idea of its' size but then saw that horn on the end of it's whatever and decided against it! then of course, when the security came, he just tapped it off the mosquito net and picked it up and put it outside. 'ini tak bahaya, ibu' ('it's not dangerous, miss) he says with a twinkle in his eye as he laughs at me hiding behind one of the bamboo pillars...ya, ya, ok...i know, i'm a right over-reacting psycho, totally useless and out of my depth in this jungle existence but c' does look pretty freaky, for crying out loud it's got hairy legs - SERIOUS hairy legs!!!!
so you see, as you all sit in your rooms, wherever you may be and wish that you were on the other side of the planet, sunning yourself on a glorious beach, stop and think for a you have bugs of this magnitude sitting on your beds to welcome you home each day???
oh ya and size -wise, this guy was as long as an index finger and as wide as two and a half fingers that's a SERIOUS bug!
after a quick bit of googling...i have discovered this is a rhinoceros apt name indeed considering the size of that horn you can see! and from the looks of it they can grow up to some pretty large sizes! as for me, i'm just glad i have a mosquito net hanging around my bed so that this fella didn't think he was getting into bed with me for the night!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

a most serendipitous discovery...

Sunday 10th August 2008
just got back from the beach after a fabulous weekend and a new discovery. this is a picture of balangan beach, down south, near uluwatu. it is a beautiful, peaceful beach. it's quite a surfer hang-out but if you don't mind that...then you can enjoy a beautiful landscape...with cliffs cascading into a blue ocean and a white sandy beach with a private little cove. there are lots of little warungs where you can grab a bite to eat and even rough it rustic-style by sleeping in some of the warungs for Rp. 100,000 a night or you can have a little more luxury and stay in some of the fancy-schmancy bungalows up on top of the cliffs for Rp. 250,000 and there's a pool and restaurant too. that definitely sounds like the spot for a nice weekend getaway!
the water is cool temperature-wise and when the tide is in you can have a decent swim over to that little private cove and when the tide is out, you can wade across and the depth would be up to you thighs.
i can honestly say that this is my new favourite beach and believe me i have been to a fair few in my time. but if you have the transport and the inclination to go a bit off the beaten track then you really have to take the time to visit this beautiful little peace of heaven.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

the intricate web of life...

Tuesday 5th August 2008
this afternoon, i had the most uplifting experience in that i was given the opportunity to walk around the Green School campus with Chakra, the school's permaculturist. it made me feel so much more connected to this place and everything that lies within its' grounds. so many plants from the large to the small that i walk past every day without a second thought have been re-introduced to me in a way that makes me so much more appreciative of their presence. plants with medicinal value, plants rich in vitamins, plants with the ability to liven up your many incredible discoveries lie within the living fences that surround the school that it makes me so excited to be here and know that i am indeed in the presence of so many living miracles. and i felt so humbled in the presence of Chakra, a true font of knowledge on plant life in the area and all its wonders. if i could learn a quarter of what he knows i would truly feel blessed. i think i learnt more in a one hour walk with him than i might have learnt on any course in any college. and again i feel that sense of how so many of us are missing out on this, and missing out on educating children about the wonders that grow naturally from the earth. how important is it for all of us to be able to learn about the wonders that grow around us? i believe that each and everyone of us should have had the opportunity to learn these things at school. this was what was important then and is even more important for now...a return to that which we have brushed aside, a reconnection with the planet in the most organic of ways - through the plants, trees and bushes that surround us. let's put those laptops aside for awhile and really think about the necessity of making our lives a little greener...

Monday, 4 August 2008

lunch fit for a rajah(king)!

Monday 4th August 2008

one thing i have always loved about being in Indonesia is the food. i adore spicy food and food full of delicious flavours, spices and aromas and in Indonesia the food is never dull. there are tastes and dishes to suit every whim. so today for lunch we were served nasi tumpeng and it is served in the most magnificent of manners. the rice is built in a tower formation and surrounded by an array of dishes. here it is served in the even more traditional manner as the place on where it is served is made from banana leaves and each of the individual dishes are put into serving dishes made from banana leaves. it truly is miraculous the usefulness of the banana leaf and the various wonderful creations is can be made into.

the dishes were so delicious and used many of the fabulous ingredients that one can find here in Indonesia. pictured below to the left is tempe goreng kering. tempe is made from fermented soya beans and is delicious when fried like this with peanuts. behind this you can see sate ikan on lovely chunky sticks which is fish satay. it is delicious and good, with a slight sweetness to it due to the addition of coconut.

at the front of the picture you can see pecel which is a combination of green beans and a kind of cabbage like vegetable that is leafy. you spoon peanut sauce over this and it creates a lovely combination of soft green vegetables and salty peanut flavout. behind that is tauge, which are beansprouts which again are eaten with the peanut sauce.

finally you can see telur pindang, eggs that have been boiled in a concotion of spices and flavours so that the aroma and taste has permeated the eggs and behind that ayam suwir, a spicy chicken dish, where the chicken is shredded and mixed with a tomato and chilli sauce.

and then to bring it all together you have the kerupuk udang, prawn crackers that you can break up or use to scoop up little snippets of the dishes and eat it together. the crackers are crispy and the flavour blends perfectly with the variety of dishes.

with lunch like this...why cook?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

a life full of offerings...

Sunday 3rd August 2008

one of the things that never ceased to amaze when i last lived in Bali, was the whole system of offerings. in Bali, people here practise a different form of Hinduism to the one you might find in say India. here, a large part of the practise, is taken up with the creation and the tradition of making offerings. offerings come in many shapes and sizes. on the simplest level they are offered daily to express gratitude to benevolent spirits and placate mischievous demons. those placed in high places are naturally meant for the friendly spirits and those that you might see on the ground are meant for those lurking spirits who might disturb the harmony in life. remember this when you see these offerings lying on the ground and think that you have to hop and jump over them all the way down the road. you don't. these offerings, although still beautiful can and are trampled on as well as eaten from by dogs and whatever else.

more elaborate offerings are made for visits to the temple and these will be the offerings that you see stacked up high, with fruit and sweet cakes and decorated elaborately with leaves folded into intricate designs. they are extremely beautiful and it is an incredible sight to see a procession of women carrying these offerings to the temple to be blessed. this is done by a holy man who sprinkles the offerings with holy water while reciting prayers and mantras. the offerings are then brought back home and shared by all in the family. it is a special time and nothing is left to waste as each family member happily enjoys the fruits of the gods.

within each offering itself though their lies a certain method to the creation. The colours and numbers of flowers and other ingredients, for example, refer to deities who guard the cardinal directions. The requisite betel on top of every offering symbolizes the Hindu Trinity, as do the three basic colors used - red for Brahma, black or green for Wisnu, and white for Siwa. it is an incredibly beautiful way of recreating the universe through art.

i admire and respect the Balinese women who as a daily chore make and create these amazing works of art. their faith and strength in their culture and traditions is astounding in a time when most people in the west are turning away from the things they grew up knowing and loving and instead have gone in search of 'a new horizon'. it is admirable that in this day in age, here in Bali, people are remaining true to their roots and standing by the things they have been passed down. i look around this land and although i feel such a strong connection to it, i remember that i am a visitor, given the opportuninty to experience what is here but also remembering that the things i see and learn have been here long before me, and will continue long after i am gone...