Ade Nugraha, a 24-year-old waiter at Café Bali on Jl. Oberoi, shared his day with The Bali Times

When I go to Kuta, I feel like it’s not Bali anymore. There’s no Balinese culture there at all.

I’m from Bali, or I’m at least half Balinese, as my mother is from Java. But I grew up here, and live here with my parents, and my adopted sister.

I have been working in Café Bali for almost two years, so if I’m working early, I have to wake up at 5am. I give myself time to go jogging while my mother goes to the market, and then I have noodles for breakfast, sometimes watch a little TV or read the newspaper. After that I’m ready to drive from Denpasar to Seminyak, which takes at least 20 minutes because of all the traffic lights! Sometimes I sleep later when I’m not working until 5pm; then I stay in bed until 11, or even 12.

When I started working as a waiter I found it very difficult. For the first three months I dropped things and didn’t really know how to do the job, but I worked hard. Waiting is not always an easy job, because whatever people ask of you, you have to find a way to do it. For example, we don’t have any Indonesian food at Café Bali, but sometimes people say to me, “We would like nasi campur; can you make some?” which is something I just can’t do. Still, I like the customers. They are nice most of the time, even now in low season, when a lot of expats, who are more demanding than tourists, are eating in the café.

I used to study tourism, but I didn’t have enough money to pay the fees. Even though I had to quit school, I’m quite happy now. One of the reasons why I like working at Café Bali is the atmosphere. Customers are welcomed and made to feel at home, and encouraged stay as long as they want. Also, all the waiters or waitresses are my friends, and I love my boss, so it’s the best possible work environment.

Sometimes I have lunch at 11am, sometimes 2pm, but it’s always at the warung next door, and always Indonesian food. It’s only possible to eat in a restaurant every day because my wages are good. Sometimes customers give tips, but it depends on the people; for example, students never give anything, but I understand they need to survive in Bali.

I’m not planning to work in the café my whole life; I dream of leaving the island. I am bored of seeing the same things every day. I once went to Java for three days, and I didn’t like their food, and that’s as far as I’ve been. It’s my dream to go to Australia, the US or France. Paris is my ultimate dream. I would love to work as a waiter, since that’s what I know, but on a cruise ship.

There are a lot of people coming to Bali now as tourists, which is great for the island, and for Indonesia, but when I go to Kuta, I feel like it’s not Bali anymore. There’s no Balinese culture there at all. I think traditions are very important, but now people are making their own kinds of religion: some believe in a special God; others worship statues; beliefs have become very personal. I define myself as Hindu and my parents are Catholic, but I just believe in God, so for me, Muslims, Catholics and Hindus are all the same.

After work I like to chat with my friends, and do what everybody now does – geeking on Facebook! This takes up quite a lot of my time, but it’s incredible: as soon as I sit in front of my laptop I type “www” and then it’s like something takes over me and Facebook appears and I am stuck in front of the computer. If I don’t work too late, I have dinner with my family, traditional food.

I go to bed around 3am even if I know the alarm clock will go off at 5am. I only have two hours’ sleep, which is obviously not enough, but it’s my choice. When I close my eyes, I sometimes wonder why I feel so alone, why my family don’t care more about things, but most of all, I wonder what my dream is going to be about.

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  1. Ray Says:

    Interesting read Ade! Do you think that your obsession with Facebook might have something to do with your feeling so alone in the real world?

    And a lot of Englishmen, for example, would echo your sentiments regarding lost culture. There has been so much immigration there that parts of England are forever lost to cultures of the east!

    Get some sleep, it might help 🙂

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