Learn to cook.

Chicken teriyaki

For the past a few weeks i cook every day and i enjoy it. I think i am not so right about labelling myself  bad at cooking. I usually buy my meal and it is all spicy which is bad for my delicate tummy.

It is hard to find meal without pungent taste around my house. I think I need to cook my own meal for my fragile tummy. I like chicken teriyaki rice bowl, i have it a few times and i think it is one of my favorite meal.

It’s yummy and the sauce is so tasty in my mouth. It looks simple yet delicious. I think i can try to make it. I browse in youtube how to make chicken teriyaki. Lightbulb lights in my head, i will do this.

The point is i need to get teriyaki sauce, mix it up with salt and pepper, smear the chicken fillet with that sauce and leave it for 20 minutes. Stain the chicken with flour before frying it. And the rest prepare the other sauce for its topping, it’s not so complicated.

My nephew pops his head in my kitchen and asking what i am cooking. I ask him to taste it. He says it is delicious. I yell yes in my head, i am really not bad at cooking. I know it is not perfect like in the picture but my tongue says it is good and it is not bad at all. With smiling heart i have my breakfast with own chicken teriyaki with rice and hot black tea.

Later in the afternoon i go to the kitchen to have my lunch, i can’t wait to bite my chicken teriyaki again. I look at the plate but it is empty. Who took it?  A cat? But I don’t have one. I heard a voice behind me, “i ate it all uncle”. My nephew gives me a guilty smile.

What you do Bali?

Ubud street

Last time i ask my friend whether he would return to work. His face suddenly looked like milk tea with ended smile. He doubt he would work in his office anymore.

He was working in one of the famous hotel in Ubud previously. He was sent home with unpaid leave after the covid-19 roaming this island. It happens to many people in tourism field. Thousand of hotels and restaurants shut down. Thousand of tour guides and drivers lost their job and countless art shops in tourist areas closed their doors.

Noted 1,2 million workers in tourism in 2021 on this Paradise Island are jobless. Bali obviously hangs its life on tourism and since pandemic strike down, Bali’s economic collapsed and so do the world.

Something emerged at beginning on this pandemic. A lot of people bought plants. Many car and motorbikes parked along the street where sellers displayed their beautiful plants on those white and black pots. I was thinking what happens? Later i learned perhaps they were bored at home since losing job so they decided to gardening? Possibly.

I also noticed people were starting to go cycling. they paddled the bikes on the street in the morning. They were so many especially on Sunday. The kids and adults on their bikes cycled, rang the bells and laughed. I can’t laugh so much in morning, it feels awkward and my mouth is stiff. Do they exercise to increase immune system to avoid covid-19? It is a good reason though.

But after a few months plants were no longer in demand, perhaps people act wisely to spend the money only on essential stuff. I hardly heard the ring’s bell and the laugh either.

The other phenomena is many cars lining on the street open its door to sell things. I noticed egg, facial tissue, face masker, fruit, nuts, even orchid, clothes, painting, and many more. The sellers seem not accustomed to selling those. They look clean and good-looking, i bet they worked in hotel or their art shops closed and so they do this to survive.

I wonder whether tourism would return to its normal again, meanwhile Western countries ban their people to travel. Will Bali return to its origin? Going to rice field, bending our back under hot sunny day to plant paddy? I recall as a kid to scream at the swarm birds eating our paddies that was the harvest soon.

Balinese cake

Balinese cakes

When my mother returned from market to buy grocery i asked her this sweet snacks. My eyes felt sticky of the morning wake up. But i could  have tasted those sweet cakes in my mouth.

My favorite one is klepon, it is made of flour and palm sugar. the little green ball will explode in my mouth when my teeth crush it. The sweetness of boiled palm sugar inundates my tongue and all of cavities and nooks in my mouth. I love the bursting sensation in my mouth. With coconut grated is sprinkled on it makes my mouth watery just by seeing  it.

The black coffee is perfect one to match with this delicacy. I had this cake since i was three years old. This is the typical of Balinese have for breakfast.

Laklak

My other favorite is laklak. The shape is similar to Portuguese egg tarts but it is green with coconut spreaded on the top and leaked it with palm sugar. I want to munch it at once.

Coconut and palm sugar are most seen at Balinese cakes. There are variety of Balinese cakes, they are all sweet and delicious. It is perfect for light breakfast or dessert. They are even served in hotel for tourist.

My delicate tummy

I am struggling to choose food every day. In general I should not eat spicy, fatty, and sour food, but i fact it is much more than that. Many food that i like against my digestion. What a pity. My fragile tummy is really fussy. A lot of food i love unable for me to consume anymore.

It has been two years i have problem with my digestion. My head is dizzy, queasy, heartburn, needles spiking in my stomach and my eye sight is blur when my tummy is ill. Doctor said i have dyspepsia, it ruins my relationship with food ever since.

Every time i feel something wrong in my body, i thought i had serious illness. Browsing internet makes it even worse. I had visited many doctor but my problem likely not come to an end. I learn that i have anxiety which is related to my digestion problem. Those men and women in white outfits suggested me not overthinking and watch what i put in my mouth every day.

Well, i try to follow their advice. For my anxiety i do meditation, watching funny videos  and focusing on thing to make me happy, smile, and laugh. And for food, it is quite challenging since Balinese food is sold out there mostly spicy. Everything looks red and hot.

I have done all the things i can do to heal this stomach ache, but the result does not make any better. I think i need to keep trying.

One time i went to a man whom i knew from my neighbors, he is herbalist. he gives free medication and provides all patients free breakfast and lunch. It was vegetarian food and it was surprisingly delicious. I noticed the sign in the canteen says free food for good. People flocked in his place, i heard many of them get better after regular visiting. When i told that herbalist man about my problem, he gave me herb in capsules and also said i must avoid spicy food, banana, papaya, watermelon, left-over food, coconut milk and all kind of tubers.

After trial and error here are my favorite food i cannot eat anymore Chocolate, milk, banana, lalapan and noodles. It makes unhappy.

There was a day when i was waiting my brother-in-law shopping in a market. I realized i  stood close to a warung or food stall. i looked at those yummy food display. My mouth was watery, they all seemed tasty. Balinese sausage, spicy chicken roasted, lawar, and the satay. My saliva was welling up and i swallowed it constantly. I ordered a take away and regret it afterward.  It was all spicy and my tummy would be upset. I totally forgot my dyspepsia.

I try Javanese food, they look good and seem friendly to my stomach. I even learned to cook  after watching cooking videos in youtube. I made the easy one like super plain spinach broth, it was like tiny clove of garlic,onion, salt, and bit MSG, water and spinach of course. After i had done it tasted weird in my mouth and the spinach smelled still raw. I thought what i had missed from the ingredients.

I tried it many times, but my tongue said it wasn’t like delicious Javanese food that i usually have in the warung. So then i just buy the food to be practical since i believe i don’t have skill to cook.

I suck at computer but want it.

When i see people working on computer i have a thought in my head they must be smart folks.  Absolutely they are intelligent people.

Before Covid disaster i notice a lot of westerners sitting in stylish cafés in ubud area, with their famous fruit branded laptop. Their eyes glue to the computer and glasses reflect the feature on the screen. A waitress holding a tray puts a cup of coffee latte and a plate of delicious pancake on the table. The man gives quick smile and says thank you to the waitress before turning his face to that thin metallic laptop again. I have a thought i wish i was good at computer, my life would be much better and fancier like them.

These smart people are living in Bali, settling in a nice villa with pool, a scooter to explore the island and eating in restaurant. On the weekend they go to have amazing weekend in Kuta or Canggu beach. They get tanned under hot sunny day reading a book, or lay down over white sand on bean bag enjoy sunset with friends. It seems they have a fabulous life on this island. As Balinese always says, “Mule jaen idup di Bali roughly means it is delicious (pleasurable) living in Bali. They call it the digital nomad life? I am just guessing.

Long time ago in the beginning of  millennium year, a Japanese man who spoke like a native English speaker. He seemed have been living in western country perhaps for all his life once told me with irritating tone at work. “Instead of stay stiff like a Balinese statue why don’t you use this computer and  try something”. His fingers were moving like jet on the keyboard, and he showed me what he did on the computer which i did not understand either and what the hack displaying on the computer’s screen was for. I was thinking he and  computer must stay together for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days in a year because they both looked so chummy. Obviously I felt like an idiot, feeling useless and stupid in front of him.

Honestly i am not into computer and suck at it, I wish i love anything about computer. But that big invention in technology that has changed the world and life of people on planet is not sexy enough in my brain.

Believe me i had tried befriend with that square gadget. I took a course of photoshop but i got bored, yawned, and sleepy as if my eyeballs falling on the floor. I was counting the time when the class was over.

To write this blog I even don’t know slash lazy to try, how to open my wordpress account in a computer. Practically i just use my phone, off the internet and turn on the saving battery mode hoping it does not consume too much battery when i write here.

When i go to do freelance foot massage for my regular Melinda in her villa, i wonder what does she do in the computer with many notes stick on it as if the computer was feeling sick. She is from Ireland living here with her teenage son and daughter whom study in the best international school in Ubud. And her husband is working in Jakarta but coming here every weekend.

They live in stunning villa with view of rice field. The green and beautiful garden surrounds the property, a beautiful Spanish guitar shaped pool is on the side, and two joglos Javanese house at the back of the villa. Two Balinese servants help maintaining the house and a man who keeps the garden tidy and growing well.

Inside the villa there is a super nice and clean kitchen, a large living room, books fill the shelves at some corners. Handsome a pair wood Buddha statues on the table, exquisite Balinese wood panel adorns the wall and a big elegant chandelier is hanged on hard wood ceiling. Everything looks beautiful and arranged thoughtfully.

I enjoy the living room while waiting the Irish lady for her foot massage. I am thinking how working on computer makes people rich or super rich like those giant tech men of the world. I can mention them, Mark Zucherberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and more.

I wish i had a talent working on computer but i haven’t. I am ordinary guy who never saw computer at school at all. But i am quite happy enough at the end of the session my customer says, ” Thank you very Wayan, you have wonderful hands, my feet are so relaxed now. You did the best head and shoulders massage i ever have.”

Release animal in nature

Today i ride my scooter to a fish seller in Gianyar. It has been for a while i hardly do Fang Shen, it is a Buddhist tradition to release animal in nature, usually bird or fish. Fang Shen derives from Chinese words, Fang means release while Shen is life. So it is simply releasing the catched animal and returned it to its habitat.

I am Hindu, but i like about Buddhism, i read books, watching Buddhist talk videos and practice some the teachings. I relate to Fang Shen likely because i had read a book long time ago when i was in Elementary school. It was at recess in the library, my eyes glued to a book titled Murai Terbang Tinggi or Magpie flies high. I digested the message that the bird sings beautifully in our ears not for its happiness, but instead the bird is crying for freedom. It has been marked in my heart deeply since then. I prefer to see a bird or other animal living in nature, not in a cage.

I have watched many Buddhist talks on YouTube, and one time a monk shared the wisdom about Fang Shen years ago. It reminded me about the book that i had read. He said there are some benefits of this teaching namely; building compassion, long life, healing, fortune and more. I am interested in healing thing because I am feeling rather unhealthy physically and mentally. Since then, i do Fang Shen frequently. Actually i have been doing this since 2019.

I promise myself if i had extra money from doing freelance i will buy fish or bird and release them in nature. My sister laughed at me when i threw birds to the air. She did not ask me why i did it and i have no obligation to tell her my purpose either. Maybe she thought i am a weirdo. Once i buy bird and the other day i get fish to release. I think Buddhism is universal teaching, anyone can practice it regardless their belief. I feel it is the right thing to do and at the same time to give compassion to other living beings.

Beside that it had been well-known that Hindu and Buddhist came from the same root. History had witnessed they both flourished in harmony for ages in Ancient Mataram emperor in Java through Sanjaya and Sailendra dynasty in 732. Even in Bali there is Shiva Buddha temple  which represents the union of Hinduism and Buddhism.

I stop and park my scooter by a river. My hand holds a plastic bag where three beautiful fish swimming around in there. The heavy rain last night has turned the river to latte. I hope these bright red fish just fine with it. Before i release them i chant mantra ” May your life be happy fish and i hope i am free from my health problem too”.

Putu gets bumpy day

Putu goes to a village temple. He looks great and handsome in Balinese outfits wearing white shirt, batik sarong, and udeng, the white headdressess. He brings a little tray with flowers and incence.  The priest’s bell resonates the entire temple compound. People are coming with faces look calm and solemn. White dominates men’s clothes while women wear more colours.

Putu is thrilled and happy to visit this temple again. He has been  here countless times since he was child. He can see the crowd in jeroan area as he is passing the split gate of the temple.

Offering on dulang

Every shrines are adorned in white, yellow, red, and gloden clothes. Dragon and other mythological guardian statues grin fierce with sharp fangs. Beautiful offerings stand along on the temple’s altar. Assorted fruits and Balinese cakes are mounting on golden carved dulangs. The flicker of incences spread in every shrines and offerings. The scent penetrates nose to relieve mind and nerves of every attendance there. Canangs graced with fresh and colorful flowers everywhere.

Soon Putu finds a place to sit. He is about to start his prayer while people settle before him preparing to pray also. His mind is serene and longing for this holy place to praise mantras for Gods and Goddesses

As he burns the incense with a lighter, a big heavy hand lands on his shoulder. Before he turns to see the face of the person he hears  husky voice, ” How are you Putu? long time no see!”. The man who was his classmate in elementary school suddenly sitting next to him. He is huge like a giant, his tight white shirt chokes his big belly, as if it’s about to burst. ” Oh hi, good good, how are you Gede?”. Putu startles and gets awkward but tries to remain calm. He senses Gede would roast him with burning questions in momentarily.

Next to Gede is sitting his lean beautiful wife and his teenage chubby son scrolling smartphone. Putu smiles to the wife whom is busy with flowers to pray.

” Did you get married?” Gede’s words sting and leave pang in his ears. Putu knew the question will come pretty soon from his friend’s mouth, but he is still not ready for it either. His face turns bashful like ripen tomoto and he replies not yet with a pity chuckle. The giant man is patting Putu’s shoulder with the big hand again. “Come on man what are waiting for? Look! my son is in junior school already.” Gede put a triumph smile on the face watching his friend gets nervous. He enjoys roasting Putu so much.

Putu just nods and forces to smile feeling ashame on himself. He really wants to dash and disappear right away from this place, but he must stay anyway. This talk ruins his serenity. Gede’s words echo in his ears incessantly. He tries to keep calm but hardly to focus his mind to pray.

My growing little garden and the criminal.

My tiny garden is growing. I am so glad what i have been working on is giving a beautiful result. This is my favourite spot in my house now. When i wake up in the morning and open the curtains i am offered this captivating view.

I like morning time, now this little garden spoils me every day and i am so grateful for it. I have breakfast here while enjoying the green and flowers blooming. In the moment later some friends with wings will pay a visit to this garden. Bee, butterfly, dragonfly and even bird are my regular visitors. The bee and butterfly like flying from one flower to another for doing their routine pollenation services. I am amazed how their daily activity is essential for natural ecosystem and human life. Seeing them flying among the flowers is a serene scene and grab my attention

My rose is blooming and striking look in my garden. My effort to water her every day and sometimes talk to her is paid well now. She keeps her promise to give me, bee and butterfly her beauty.

If i recall my choldhood, i can’t believe how heartless i was. I tortured many creatures from bird to insect. My heart was racing when my slingshot hit the bird in the tree. The yellow little bird was spining down and fell to the ground. I ran and chatched it. I was ecstatic holding the hapless bird in my hand. It was the first time i got a bird.

The other crime i committed was to the bees. In my yard flowers were blooming, i did not know its name, they were not big flowers and the shape was like a trumpet with colour of magenta. A little bee was circling and coming inside the trumpet flower. With unknowingly what i did i squished the bee with my thumb and index finger. The bee died. The second bee came and doing the same act, perching on the flower and crawling in. I could see its chubby butt then i clasped the bee again. I pulled my hand swiftly because it was pain. The bee stung my finger. My thumb was swollen a bit and hurt.

The other day i catched dragon fly, i cut its tail a little and i replaced it with grass and flew it away. When i remember those crimes i feel so guilty now. I was a cruel kid who frequently torturing animals. I was really terrifying criminal.

By the way my good friend had given me the seed of sunflowers. He kindly sowed them himself in my garden. They are sprouting now. I can’t wait to see how the sunflowers blooming look like.😁

Sunday in waterfall

On Sunday morning i and my friend went to a waterfall in Gianyar. It is only twenty minutes from my house. He really wants to see waterfall and he has been doing research on internet the closest waterfall we could visit.  He is a city boy who is hardly going to nature. It obviously made him so excited

We arrived at the site and stopped our scooter at the parking lot. I could taste the breeze already. A friendly man was smiling at us and suggested to kept our helmets from the rain in his makeshift hut.

I was suprised a little girl incharge in the reception post. She may be about ten or twelve years old. The fee is ten thousand rupiahs it is about less than one Dollar. She collected the money and told us in her sweet girly voice to be careful because the step is slippery. Yeah i could see it and made me alert with my pace.

It was raining earlier this morning leaving the moldy and damp steps that give a little challenge for the visitor who look for Sunday morning outing. These wet  steps warned me how slicky this place was and if I was not careful, i could be rolling down uncontrollably like a hepless log.

My friend was behind me walking like wobbly old man, his chubby posture was not much helping in this situation. He was videoing the area and reporting like a youtuber. I am so amazed how people nowdays  generously  sharing information in social media for the like and possibly earning from it

I help myself being indulged here in this natural jacuzzi. Water was really fresh and clear. The funny thing is I do not go to waterfall often although it is pretty close to my house. It is odd many people here are rarely going to a close site but prefer to drive miles away for a trip.

I was holding my knees while mesmerizing by this waterfall, trees and the rocks in this little paradise. Unknowingly a tiny black dragonfly was perching on my arm. It is wonderful and also scary a little bit in my heart, why? Is this dragonfly owns this place? This tiny guy was not afraid of me or perhaps it was comfortable being so near with me. What i am afraid is the place like this such as waterfall, river, forest and other secluded place, Balinese believes they have the owner, unseen lord, like a spirit or ghost. They could harm us if we are not behave or make damage to their place. so i wishpered asking permission to stay here, i would not bother this place. I just wanted to enjoy this beautiful waterfall.

I looked at my friend whom was still busy with his phone. Nowdays I hardly find people not holding a phone. They are hanging out together with friends not talking each other but they are drowning to scroll their own phone. They are busy to record the moment with photos and videos that would be shared in youtube, facebook, instagram, twitter and other social media but they neglect to enjoy the moment itself with their five senses.

Anyway I am so glad i had been here and immersed myself in this truly nature. I never forget to feed my body with food but most of the time i neglect to nurture my soul. Nature  really has magic to relieve my mind. Many of us have been struggling and squeezing with busy life. The activities of pursuing the goals, the desire to have a better life, the will to possess things, those make us stress  and also drain our energy. We may want to take a halt and slowing down for a moment. Being in nature could be a wise choice to balance our life.

My river is gone

This afternoon the earth is like being cooked, it is so hot. I cannot stay in my room because it’s like I am being boiled here. My room is small and no air conditioning. There is only a small fan to cool me down, it is surely not enough. So I go out walking to the back of my house at the river to get fresh air.

This river reminds me of my sweet memory. It was my pleasure place, I liked it so much when i was child.  At 4 to 5 p.m. was the best and the exciting time of the day. Because I could swim in this river with my friends. We jumped and floated on the water and screamed with so much joy. The water was  clear, we even could see our feet in the river bed.

All villagers went to a river to take a bath at that time. We hardly had toilet. We went to the river to take a bath in the morning and in the late afternoon. We also washed our clothes there. It was the happiest moment for me to hop and crash into the water. It felt so great and wonderful.

There were many trees everywhere. Some of them bear edible fruits like melinjo, banana, papaya, coconut, jackfruit, and many more. I like papaya because it’s big, sweet and juicy. Most of the people had papaya tree at their house.

The river was wonderful and exciting place for me and my friends. But it’s sad now. Many things have changed, the river is dirty and full of rubbish. Many people choose not to go to bath in the river anymore. I really want to swim in my river again. It’s pity. Environment is damage already.

But I still find something to be grateful for. I still have fresh air to breathe here. There are still many trees like these heavy bamboo trees. Oddly I have goosebumps here, I am a bit scared standing here alone by the dense bamboos.  I recall a spooky story of my parents told me when I was kid about gosh. The scary witch who could kidnap me and then brought me to the unseen world that my parent could not find me. Balinese still believe this superstitous till now. I have never seen a ghost actually unless in the movies. But I do not hope to see them face to face. Perhaps I would be faint to see their terrifying figures.

I wish I could turn the time back to my childhood. Jumping and swimming in the fresh and clear river was the experience that i will never forget. Life was simple in the past and most of the people around the eighties were poor. If someone had TV, it would mean he or she was rich. Only one or two people who had TV in my village. Radio was more common and affordable for the villager. I miss my childhood even though life was hard. I had only two t-shirts and pants. Life was simple and lack of stuff but it was not bad. I mean life was modest as a kid, you know if I had 500 Rupiahs ( $ 0,035 ) with me I felt rich. That happened only once in seven months on the festive Galungan day. My father gave me the money that i would spend it for snack and chewing gum.

There are many things that I find in the backyard today, trees, butterfly, wild flower, lizard, and of course the river. I see little cicada too, it is cleverly camouflage on the bark of the tree. I am staying close enough with this creature. It is buzzing in high frequency that hurt my ears. It’s so nice to be in nature. Although this river is not like 35 years ago anymore but it still can give me something to smile about.

Sitting here under the shady tree listening to birds chirping, a spider resting on its webs, the divine shrine is there, they give me sense of peace in my heart. I feel good and happy here. Maybe it’s true when people say that happiness comes from ordinary event which is unnecessarily on fancy things. Like my friend said he has a new car but it made him happy only for one week. Fancy stuffs do make us happy probably not too long.

Happiness according to Mark Manson on his book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck says happiness is about responsibility and ordinary things like raising children well or maintaining our health by exercising and eating good food. Happiness is a basic thing and maybe not many people think like that. In other word anyone can be happy whatever our life is. Like I am enjoying my afternoon at the river and this makes me happy. The river that is no longer like it’s used to be.