I’ve been here three days, and like, I’m totally part of the furniture.
That’s just the thing, I’m not part of it at all. I’m an observer, an outsider, a tourist.
I’m living in a Balinese family compound, alongside them, next to them even, but not with them. And I’m okay with it.
A few hours ago, I brought my lap top to the communal, ‘once-was-a-restaurant’ area. It’s a high-roofed, open aired space, with a nice heavy-wooden tabel and chairs, and a black vinyl sofa that makes me cringe.
A young girl tears clumps of sweet sticky rice off banana leaf packaging, her eyes mesmerised by the Indonesian soap-opera blaring from the wall-mounted flat screen. She barely notices my existence, and I think to myself we’re all the same, as I remember my own fascination with Neighbours at her age.
A toddler lays passed out on the sofa, her little faced pressed in to a vinyl cushion. I’ve never known a toddler (and I guess I haven’t known that many) to fall asleep on a couch, I always wished my niece would, be she never did.
This one is having the sleep of her life, I know this because when she finally stirs an hour later, she is not happy about being back in the land of the living.
My first instinct is to go over and soothe her, cuddle her tight like I would my niece when she wakes up in a state. But I don’t because I just don’t feel like it’s my place (or truth be told, I’m scared she’ll go into a screaming fit after I pick her up).
Sure enough, she self soothes herself back into wakefulness, and is distracted by the latest snack brought from the family kitchen by Miss Neighbours. Prawn crackers.
A few guys come and go from the compound, we exchange a polite hello. I think there are three families (nuclear, but all part of the same larger one) living here. Once you enter the gates, it’s a bit of a rabbit warren of detached structures including three separate dwellings for family, the restaurant, a courtyard for performing ceremonies, a small temple at the far end of the property, and several bungalows for guests, about five or six in total.
I thought I was the only one here until a friendly young girl from Belgium appeared this afternoon.
And aside from whipping up a delicious banana pancake for me this morning, the family have largely left me alone. I haven’t even paid for today’s room yet.
It’s kind of nice this way, just hanging out along side them, but not getting too involved or feeling weird about it. People say they want to experience the ‘Real Bali’, but if this isn’t it – soap operas and whingeing kids – I don’t know what is.