Of laundry, death and a Balinese wedding

November 24, 2011 at 19:17 2 comments

Fresh from the soggy task of hanging out the laundry, I am thinking of my childhood friend, Snowbell, who rushed back from across the planet after learning that her father died suddenly on Sunday. His funeral happened today. Doing laundry is drudgery, but it looks different after you consider its finite nature, being something that you do for living people. Once someone is dead, you wouldn’t be able to do laundry for them even if you wanted to.

I am also thinking of another friend, Tango, who will be doing laundry for two from now on, as she got married on Sunday (what an eventful day You gave us, dear Lord), in Bali, and that was the reason we went there.

I don’t put up identity-revealing pictures here, but I’d like to show you a little of the beauty of that wedding in these two strategically blurred shots. My internal temperamental artist persona compels me to note here that the bokeh was achieved at the time of shooting, and not through Photoshop filters.

The ceremony - done Balinese style - took place on the grounds of the Royal Pita Maha in the late afternoon. It was hot and cloudy and there was a carpet of frangipani flowers leading the couple to the altar. You can't make out the details, but here the bridesmaid and best man are holding a cord up while the couple completes the ceremony, and in the meantime, the guests are getting ready to throw flower petals.

Part Two of the wedding took place in another courtyard:

Our outdoor dinner was graced by Balinese dancers and live music. There was fine food and wine, a purple chocolate wedding cake, floating candles and good company. Some mosquitoes too, but that can hardly be helped in Bali. Note to self: next time, bring citronella.

At the risk of rousing superstitious ire for linking a wedding and a death, I can’t help but think of how very different Tango and Snowbell must have been feeling at the precise same moment. For all our frenetic activity, we walk the same timeline with totally unique experiences, and, in that way, live and die quite alone. Yes, we can choose to share ourselves with people or admit the omnipresence of God, but one is purely subjective and the other is mindbendingly universal, and neither changes the fact that right now, this moment, what you are and what you think and feel, cannot be appreciated by any other human being as clearly as you do.

Still, let’s end this post on a light-hearted note, because, like it or not, with all its drama, life is also funny. I have just the thing to prove that, in the form of the Balinese answer to the Angry Birds, which I saw as part of the decor at the Royal Pita Maha.

"You think them boyds wuz angry? You ain't met us yet."

And if angry pigs aren’t quite your thing, you have the option of some pretty pissed-off frogs.

"Croak. We don't do ribbit."

But guess who’s picking off the competition in the next alleyway.

"Yup, birds RULE, amphibian."

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Entry filed under: Dear Diary.

Our Bali base: Nefatari Villas Balinese food: Lobong cooking class

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. flaneurvric  |  November 24, 2011 at 20:09

    Lovely post, as usual, Katie. The wedding sounds like a gorgeous affair. I really appreciate (what I took as) your later reminder of the limits of empathy. I’ve done some reading in the past year on a specific meaning of the word compassion: to ‘be with’ someone in a time of suffering. I guess there’s a difference between compassion and empathy, but your post reminds me that, while, when I am able to silence my own neuroses and focus on another’s experience and perspective as I understand them, which gives me the ability to ‘be with’ them, to TRULY empathize is not always possible, particularly with some of our patients. In a very fundamental way, I can’t fully understand what it is like to hear voices, or to be suicidal, as I have (fortunately) never had those experiences. Our profession (at least here in the US) calls for us to empathize, empathize, EMPATHIZE! It is important for me, as you have implied here, to realize that empathy is not always possible (as you write, ultimately, a subjective experience is sometimes (always?) only fully known–and knowable–by the subject). I hope, though, that compassion is always possible.

    (Sorry for the long, rambling comment!)

    Reply
    • 2. Katie  |  November 24, 2011 at 23:30

      Well said, dear Vric. I’m caught by your mention of reading, because, after all, the enjoyment of that cannot be had without empathy. I also admire your year’s exercise in the understanding of compassion – I am beginning to suspect that I empathize without much compassion – but I sorely lack the patience to attempt something similar!

      This would, incidentally, be a great time to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. You know we don’t really celebrate it here, but I am thankful for you. :)

      Reply

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Welcome to my blog!


My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

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