Velvet night. The monsoon rain has stopped for a moment. His eyes are wide and shining, much like those of a Legong dancer. His smile is warm and animated. Nyoman, the motorbike guy, is one of those humans who make life in Ubud so very easy. “You call again, when you come back, yeah?” he confirms before he takes off with my Scoopy. I enjoy the simplicity and flow in all our interactions. And this particular Balinese flavour of caring warmth.
I feel it again at 4:45 in the morning when I rumble past the house of my landlord with my walk-in closet on wheels. Putu and his wife came out to wave me good-bye. Why would they do that? We already hugged in the evening! More wide-eyed smiles and some quiet laughter. There is an elegance and beauty about them that turns this encounter into a piece of art.
A moment of awkward follows when none of us knows if a handshake or one of these untrained cross-culture hugs would be appropriate in the tradition of the other. It doesn’t matter. This is about something else.
Every single morning they had discreetly placed a home-grown fruit on our door-step. The most delicious dragon fruit, which finally made me understand, what the pink colour-wonder really is about! Or these massive papayas which we started to dread, when they began to clog our fridge. We looked up recipes for papaya chutney, papaya face masks and papaya curry to somehow stay afloat in the fruit flood.
And then the feeble attempt of communicating that we cannot keep up eating with their rhythm of delivery and that we are very happy and grateful but that we are also drowning in the colour orange. We got even more papaya after that. Lost in translation.
But never lost in tender care. Hardly ever felt looked after so lovingly and unintrusively. No strings attached. Until this last moment far too early in the morning when they got up for an escort to the waiting car.
More welcoming arms on the street. My friend Wayan, superb driver and guide, came for the safe passage to the airport and a friendly chat on the way.
We are arriving still in the embrace of the warm night. Bound to leave the fertile womb of Mama Bali. Waking up to the bright light of a Bangkok day.