Martha Stewart Does Bali
By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times
Today I am giving Martha Stewart, American entrepreneur and home-decorating diva, a tour of my house in Bali.
Martha, come in! Oh, watch out! Don’t step on the offerings! Yes, I know they’re right in the middle of the driveway. And yes, they’re on fire. No worries; it’s just incense. Yes, that’s a stray dog eating the offerings. It’s okay, Martha. Offerings have many functions.
Do come inside! No, wait! Please leave your shoes outside. Martha, you’re giving me a heart attack and I haven’t even begun to show you the house yet.
Upon entering, notice the prevalent use of white tiles throughout the house. Don’t mind the roaches the size of sofas marching across the living room. You know, Indonesia is a tropical country and so we have tropical-sized insects. It’s humbling to live in a place where the insects are bigger than you are. Wait till you see the mosquitoes in the garden!
As you can see, there is no clear distinction between inside and outside, which means you constantly pass through invisible barriers. Here, you can sit inside and outside at the same time and have a garden view from virtually anywhere in the house.
Back to the white tiles. It’s an unwritten rule that one cannot use non-slip tiles on floors in Bali. This makes these tiles especially perilous during the rainy season, which by the way is six months long. During these six months, puddles tend to accumulate where the wind has blown in the rain and just as you realize you have walked into a puddle — bam! You’ve slipped and landed on your butt. No non-slip tiles ensure that delicate balance between life and death: always appreciating life while so close to death. Like so much of life in Bali, things should be left to fate.
Surely you’ve seen enough coffee-table books on Indonesia to know that we only have big furniture here in Indonesia. That’s why my house is so big — to fit the humongous furnishings. Besides, you never know when God might stop by for a cuppa. You wouldn’t want to be caught off-guard without a chair big enough.
Yes, I agree, these big wooden sofas would be far more comfortable with cushions. But that would encourage people to stay too long, Martha. We want people to come, relax with a coffee and be on their way. You know friends – if you make a place too comfortable, they just kind of move in. Every time you come home, there they’re on the sofa as if they had just moved into that spot.
What did you say, Martha? Rent out the furniture? Yes, that’s an idea. Furniture with a view.
Let’s step now into the back of the house. Here we can close the glass doors and be inside, without giving up the illusion that we are outside. Martha, the secret to interior decorating in Indonesia is doilies. Crocheted doilies, tatting, lace – you name it, it’s got a special place in the Asian house: on the telephone receiver, embracing the tissue box, posing as coasters. You just can’t get enough lace in Indonesia. I never had any in my house but my neighbors took pity on me and now I have so much, I can hardly contain it. It grows wild! Lace, lace, lace!
What, Martha? The crumbling yellow plastic covering the lampshade? We like to keep the original plastic on things to protect them. The plastic on that lampshade has been there for 10 years. Pretty good, eh? It’s yellow and torn now but the point is that underneath all that is a lampshade that has been perfectly preserved. Besides, leaving the plastic on something new makes me feel like I own something I’ve paid off in installments, such as a car or a Louis Vuitton sofa. If I owned a Stradivarius, I’d keep the original plastic on it. Yes, it’s tacky, but so are those doilies on the telephones.
Yes, Martha, we have a couple of stray cats laying around. We tried politely removing the cats from the garden but they’d just reappear a few minutes later with machetes. We decided to let nature rein and just live with them.
Now let’s relax with a cup of Bali coffee. Here, sit on this cushion on the floor. Yes, I know it looks like a beer glass but Bali coffee is served that way. Oh no, Martha, don’t add sugar. It’s already overloaded! Any more and you might overdose.
Martha? Martha! She’s stuck in the lotus position! Someone call an ambulance.
House-proud Amy is at email@example.com.Filed under: Arts & Entertainment