Sarah Tooth, 43, recently moved from Adelaide, Australia, with her husband and two children to take the position of manager of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival; she shared her day with The Bali Times
Moving to Bali has been so easy.
I get up around 6.30am and I’m generally on my own for the first hour or so of the day. Before I had internet I would get up and have coffee and just sit and be quiet, but now I send emails home, mostly to my daughter who is at university. Everyone else gets up when I drag them out of bed, usually about 7:30am and we have a mad rush to get the kids ready for school for about an hour. My husband helps rounding up the kids, getting uniforms on and packed lunches ready and at 8.30am I drop the kids at school.
I go from their school straight to work at the office, which is under the restaurant Indus in Ubud, where the five staff members are usually already around when I arrive. We all start by answering emails, drinking coffee and generally trying to focus for the day. The view from the office is amazing and I often watch people walking the ridge of the valley and admire all the beautiful houses perched over the river.
After answering hundreds of emails, we normally have a bit of a catch-up with (festival founder) Janet (de Neefe) by email or text message. I have a sore text-messaging thumb from all the text messaging I do here. Once everyone is done with their morning emailing and are fully focused on the day we chit-chat and regroup, discussing news and what we are working on.
At lunchtime all the staff eat together at Indus and I try to keep up with the Indonesian. I’m the only expat staff member so there is Balinese, Indonesian and English flying around, which makes conversation really lively. We often make grand plans for the future of the festival, and gossip. Lunch is a real highlight of the day for me; it’s where I get all my good information and the staff let me know if I’ve done something wrong. Before I came to Bali I was worried no one would confront me about things I was doing wrong because forwardness isn’t really a Balinese trait, but believe me they aren’t always gentle.
After lunch we normally schedule meetings with staff, sponsors, writers or key people in the community. We either go out or people come to us. The network of festival relationships is enormous and getting to know all the people is a really exciting part of the job for me. Janet and I usually make time in the late afternoon to discuss where we are with writers attending the festival. This is the core of our day’s business and it’s really exciting when we get confirmations. It’s a nice way to end the day.
At the moment I’m finishing work at 5pm, which all the staff are enjoying because we know it won’t go on forever. Right now we’re planning and talking and storing up energy for when the craziness of the festival hits later in the year.
When I get home my husband and son and daughter are already home and the main topic of conversation is where we’re going to move to. Right now we’re renting a house and we’re all really anxious to get settled in our own place. We don’t have a TV, which is wonderful because we’re spending lots of time as a family playing board games and card games together. We often go to a market or somewhere simple for dinner and then have a walk around Ubud, talking and finding out what Indonesian words the kids learned during the day. We’re loving the evenings; it’s like being away on holiday together.
When we get home we put the kids to bed and sit out and have a beer and chat. I have a lot of reading to do, reading books by the writers attending the festival. Right now I’m reading Reasons for Harmony, an anthology of Indonesian writers translated into English, which is great and is going to be launched soon.
It’s difficult to be away from my daughter who is 23, but honestly she’s the only thing I miss. Moving to Bali has been so easy – our kids are dealing with it really well – and I feel very lucky to be working with the people I am working with here.Filed under: One Day