A Bizarre Bazaar

By Hannah Black
Galungan holidays are lovely, but when you’re married into a Balinese family there is a lot of making offerings, going to temple and generally being in the compound that goes on.

So after a slow week of going to temple, eating offerings and generally lazing around the house I thought it was time for a night out.

Luckily there was excitement brewing in the form of the village bazaar, or fundraising night thrown by the pemuda (young peoples’ association) and I invited a few of my girlfriends to live it up in Silakarang.

Now, if you’ve never been to a bazaar it could take some explaining to really know how bizarre they really are. I’ve been to a few in my time here in Bali, and never one that wasn’t just a bit odd.

At the start of the evening there are usually families eating as well as teenagers and young people hanging about waiting to start the drinking. It’s all quite innocent at first.

The strange and extremely awkward thing about the whole situation is that a waitress dressed in full kabaya and sarong sits at the tables with you as you eat. They take orders and pass them on to young men who deliver the orders to the kitchen and bring food to the table. The waitress doesn’t actually do anything but write the order and sit looking uncomfortable.

At the first bazaar I went to, I sat at a table with my ex-boyfriend, about 10 of his friends and one teeny little Balinese girl looking like she wanted to run away and cry.

By the end of the night, sitting at table crammed with Bintang bottles, the boys were drunkenly singing, teetering on the edge of starting fights and trying to kiss the innocent young waitresses.

Most of the boys in Silakarang are much better behaved, but there is usually extreme drunkenness and some scuffling by the end of the night anyway.

So in we strolled last Friday night, my husband looking slightly embarrassed with his harem of Western girls (me and three of my most gorgeous girlfriends).

Heads turned and the boys looked happy, for the new eye candy dropped straight into their laps. Of course they are all too shy to actually speak to any of my friends, but it’s funny watching them working up the nerve.

Although we weren’t treated to the break-dancing, singing, advice-giving drinker from Denpasar like Thursday night’s crowd was, there was a local underground punk band, which may have deafened everyone within a kilometre radius of the village.

There was also a gang of marauding 10-year-old boys who seemed to be matching us beer for beer, which as funny as it was for about a minute had to be stopped.

Once the families drifted off home, the pemuda took over and the action really started.

The stage opened up to anyone who cared to sing, dance and generally become the butt of all jokes, and the bartenders, who had recently returned from a cruise-ship stint, suddenly became Tom Cruise.

I’m sure there wasn’t a fire extinguisher in close proximity to the very flammable tarpaulins covering the bar, but the flaming drinks were a huge hit.

My friends and I ducked out after a few beers and the best nasi goreng ever to head to the big city (Ubud) before the boys got loose enough to start launching themselves at them; at least they got a taste of a night out in the village.

There were a lot of extremely fuzzy-headed people wandering around the next day and it turned out that most of the boys had stumbled home long after the sun has risen.

Filed under: My Compound Life

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