Becoming Balinese, Part 2
Today my Balinese transformation begins with a cooking class, by Kadek, of course. Yesterday as we were finishing our omelets, we noticed that Kadek brought something different for breakfast for herself. Rice and some kind of greens and tofu. The omelets are great, but why don’t we have that for breakfast? Hm, after she got the go-ahead from Kevin, she said she would get the ingredients and make it today. Yum! Balinese cooking class!
She starts with cooking the rice. Balinese rice is white, but not processed, a little sticky but not much. There’s a rice cooker here, so that’s easy. Then she puts a couple of cups of coconut oil in a pan and gets it boiling. When it’s good and rolling, she adds some tofu, a special kind made by her neighbor. When that is fried, she removes the tofu and adds some peanuts, a few cloves of garlic, and some chilis, tops on to the boiling oil. This boils for about maybe 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, in another pan she boils water for the greens. This is water spinach, a relative of the morning glory. She cuts the hard parts of the stem off and slices them before dropping them in the water. They boil for just a few minutes. While everything is still boiling, she puts some shrimp paste on a fork and sticks it in the fire under the pan. When the peanut/garlic/chili mixture is good and ready, she drains the oil and puts it in the blender with some coconut water and regular water, blending until it forms a paste, adding more liquid to make a sauce. Putting the rice in a mold and topping it with fried onions in the middle of the plate, she puts the tofu in a bowl, places greens on top, then covers it all with the spicy peanut sauce. YUM. Best breakfast ever.
It’s pretty rainy today, so we just hang out around here, talking and sharing stories. It’s nap time again. Soon we’re getting ready to go to Manik’s for the Hindu ceremony. However, it’s just pouring outside, that tropical rain that just drowns everything. Mitsuyo has her kebaya all ready made from last week, so she is beautiful. My kebaya won’t be ready til Monday, so I have to cobble together a sarong, belt, and shirt that covers my shoulders (no corset required!), which is not cool for temple but is ok for a home visit.
We walk to Mama’s (Manik’s), see her there, and go across the street to get blessed and offer prayers. There are a bunch of people kneeling and praying in one area and a man in a white shirt and pants sitting up on a platform loaded with flowers and food. He’s the priest, or pandit. We go up to the platform, one step down, and wait for the family ahead of us to finish their blessing. Now it’s our turn.
We step in front of him and he gives us a big smile before he puts on his serious face and begins to speak. I don’t know exactly what he is saying, being in Balinese and all, but he’s got the prayer voice of a good preacher. First the prayer. Palms together, up between the eyes. Break. Palms together, this time with flowers. Break. Put one flower behind ear. Palms together again, with different flowers. Break. Put flower behind other ear. Palms together more flowers. Break. Find an ear that has room for another flower. Last time, palms together with smoke from incense. First part done.
Second part begins as we hold our hands open in front of us. The pandit continues speaking. Then he gets a little brush of sticks, dips it in water, and sprinkles it over us several times. We then are instructed (Manik is there, walking us through this) to cup our hands, right over left. The pandit now has a sort of teapot with a long spout and he pours water into our hands. We bring our hands to our mouths and drink. It’s smoky-tasting. Two more times we receive and drink, dribbling a bit in the process. The third time we take the water from our palms and put the water on our heads. The pandit continues his invocation. Hands out again, this time for rice. Grab some rice with your right hand and put it in your left. It’s sticky and a bit wet. Stick some on your forehead, right between your eyebrows. Stick some on the hollow at the base of your neck. Eat some. For the finale, he then takes some long leaves and flowers and makes us each a little headband. That’s it. Big smiles all around.
Then we go down to the second platform and kneel, repeating the ceremony all over again without the pandit. Thank goodness for Manik, or we would be totally lost. Then it’s done. We are wet, but have communicated with the gods, thanking the good and trying to appease the more mischievous. It feels good.
It’s Mitsuyo’s last night so we go to her favorite sushi place for happy hour. Two for one mojitos and $5 huge sushi rolls. We’ve shared so much, and I’m really going to miss her! Joining us is her friend from Singapore who also stayed at the Nest for a while before doing a bit of traveling. She is interested in visiting a Balinese healer, as am I. We compare notes and want to see the same guy. She introduces me to WhatsApp and we connect. We’ll see what happens later this week.
You might be thinking, where are the pictures of beautiful scenery and the awesome temples? That’s for Tourist Julie, and right now that’s not where I’m at. Tomorrow, the Hindu ceremony continues as we are invited to return to Manik’s.