Out of Silakarang

By Hannah Black
For The Bali Times

SILAKARANG ~ I’ve been feeling very much the responsible adult the last month or so. I suppose having a husband and an 18-month-old daughter, I should really have been feeling responsible before this, but the feeling has only really come with going back to work full-time.

The massive change of routine and the amount of time spent away from the soft, comfortable bosom of the compound threw me a bit at first; but it seems it may actually be healthy for me to have more time out of the village.

I have come to the realisation that a tropical climate and flexible hours do not a productive Hannah make.

I was extremely lucky to have had almost a year and a half with my daughter, but it was time (my husband Ongky hinted very subtly at this) to get off my bum and try something new. Lola now stays at home and has a ball with her numerous aunties and uncles, grandma, grandpa and cousins of all ages.

My job has helped me feel a renewed sense of gratitude for where I live. After a day in a four-storey school just off the craziness of Ngurah Rai bypass, I go home to my jungly haven. I may have to drive half an hour longer than any of the other teachers, but it’s all worth it for the sounds of crickets and cicadas at night, rather than bikes revving at all hours.

It sometimes takes time away from somewhere to make you appreciate it. When I escaped from the Isle of Man at 17 to go to university in London, I actually began to look forward to the boredom of the little island.

There are downsides, of course, and although the family understand completely, I do feel bad that I can’t be as much a part of the goings-on in the village as before.

I enjoy going to weddings, spending time with my mother and sister-in-law making offerings and hanging out at peoples’ houses drinking coffee, all of which I’ve had no time for recently.

Thinking about it, though, I’ve probably done enough of all that over the past year to last the rest of my days.

I have real weekends for the first time in a long, long time – but I don’t want to do a damn thing with them. The drive to work every weekday is enough to keep me at home all weekend, cooking, cleaning and gardening.

You may now want to picture me wearing a housecoat and apron with my hair in rollers ala 1950, although perhaps more Bali would be a sarong, ancient flip-flops and one of my husband’s rejected t-shirts.

Being out so much also makes me think about how little my family leave the compound; Silakarang is their world and they rarely have to venture out. Everything they need is right there: market (to buy and sell), doctor, family.

If someone needs eyeglasses, a seller comes; if they need to pay a bill, a collector comes; when they want to buy pots and pans, someone comes. It is a very tidy and uncomplicated life.

But then again I like to go to new places and try new things. I love to meet new people and learn about all the things around me, past, present and future.

I suppose I wouldn’t have ended up living in Bali if I wasn’t a somewhat adventurous person and I can’t imagine my life without travel. New people and places have made me who I am. But I also understand that some people don’t need to travel and meet new people and see new places to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

I may have become less adventurous in the past few years, but responsibility will do that to a person. I’m settled and happy and perhaps I am becoming more and more like the people I live with.

I have a nice balance now of time in and out of the compound – and as we know, Bali is all about balance.

Every night when I crash into bed at a very responsible and old lady-ish hour, I feel like I’ve earned the deep, peaceful sleep I instantly fall into.

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