Of Mice and Men, Massages and Memory Loss

By Vyt Karazija

It’s official – Bali is changing me. Slowly, insidiously, I am adopting a lifestyle which involves succumbing to impulse and forgetting about planning, follow-through and, you know … other stuff. See, I’m even forgetting the words for whatever it was that used to be important in my pre-Bali life. Living in Bali, especially in an area which seems to be reserved for the terminally bewildered, can do that to you.

The other day, I set out to get some shopping done. Still labouring under some crazy delusion that I can remember things, I didn’t bother to write a shopping list. Well, lists are only for forgetful people. And I probably would have remembered to buy most of the things I needed, except I forgot to go shopping. You see, while riding past one of my favourite massage salons, I was seized with an irresistible impulse to be pampered; so in I went. After a delicious hour of sensual, albeit comatose pleasure, I wandered off to find my bike and get on with the day. That took a while, because I had forgotten where I parked it.

Still in that lovely post-massage torpor, I decided that a coffee would be nice, so another pleasant 40 minutes were spent reading, daydreaming and recaffeinating before I rode home. Then I remembered that I had forgotten to shop. Right, back on the bike for the five-minute trip to the supermarket, where I wandered around wondering what it was I needed. Maybe it was memory pills? So I asked myself: “What would have been on my list, if I had made a list?” Lo and behold, it jogged my failing memory enough to spend Rp400,000 (US$44) on a trolley-full of stuff.

As it turned out, it was obviously a false memory, because after getting home, not one of the things I had originally planned to buy was actually in my shopping bags. Back in the old days, this scenario would have worried me senseless. I would have thought that there was something seriously wrong with me, and rushed off to schedule an immediate brain scan. Not anymore. I just accept this fugue state as a natural part of Bali life, and if I have a pantry full of stuff that I don’t need, well, so be it. There’s always tomorrow.

Minutes later, I caught a furtive movement out of the corner of my eye. If I hadn’t actually seen it, my pembantu’s shriek would have told me what it was. A mouse! It was marching purposefully from the garden towards the pantry, on a trajectory that was about to intersect my right foot. Being a man of decisive action, I stamped my foot directly in front of the beast to scare it away. Petulant, I know, but for most mice of my acquaintance, this alpha male type of aggression causes immediate, squeaking flight in the opposite direction.

Not so with the mouse of steel. It stopped, glared at me and kept coming. My pembantu, always one to recognise a fearless predator, immediately fled up the stairs. Without my wingman, it was left to me to confront this animal, one which was obviously unaware of its place in the grand scheme of things. With a dexterous sweep of my foot, I tumbled it back towards the garden. It still didn’t run. In fact, it stood up, glared at me, bared its tiny teeth and growled.

Now, mice don’t growl. They use ultrasonic communication, audible squeaks and occasionally emit rapid clicks. But I swear this thing actually growled at me. Yes, it was faint and somewhat pathetic, but it was clearly a growl. It took quite a few deft soccer passes to get the thing back to the garden (it was growling all the way) until it reluctantly went off, looking over its shoulder at me all the way. I didn’t even know mice had shoulders.

Well, what with the massage, the coffee, the shopping and the mouse that thought it was a Bali tiger, it just about filled out my daylight hours. But I did need to go shopping again. This time, I did make a list containing all the items I had forgotten the first time, including – well, of course – mousetraps. That mouse was obviously sent by a higher force.

You see, that’s how Bali works – apparently unrelated events can conspire to bring one’s life back into balance, correct mistakes and iron out the effects of temporary amnesia. That’s one of the reasons I like it here.

Except that on the way to the supermarket, I saw this really nice-looking massage salon…

Vyt Karazija writes a blog at http://borborigmus.wordpress.com and can be emailed at vyt@elearning911.com.

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