Compared to some people, my day starts extremely early, at 5am or even before. Iâ€™ll wake and ask myself why I canâ€™t sleep any longer than this, even though I often go to bed late at night, sometimes around midnight. But thereâ€™s nothing I can do about it; I suppose Iâ€™m just programmed this way, and Iâ€™ve gotten used to it.
So with both eyes fully open, I start my day with gentle exercises. At my age you have to keep nimble or you have trouble with your back â€“ even walking of stretching is good. After that Iâ€™ll go to a warung (foodstall) and have coffee and godoh (fried banana) and chat with the people there
When I get back home, my staff are waking up â€“ they live at my house, and I also provide their meals â€“ and making coffee to get themselves started. There are some students who also help make the penjor, when theyâ€™ve finished school, and they get some money for it.
Iâ€™m grateful that my parents taught me how to make penjor. When I was young they used to ask me to make things like canang (offerings), which is a girlâ€™s job really, not a boyâ€™s; but nonetheless, they said I had to learn how to do it, and I did. My mother said, â€œIt will come in useful some day,â€ and it has. My parents were right.
When I finished high school, I got a job as a teller at a local bank in Denpasar; but in 1992 it went bankrupt and I had to find another job, and I worked at casually various villas and hotels for a while, doing maintenance, and making penjor. And then in 1998, the Asian financial crisis struck and the price of the maintenance materials rose and I stopped the villa and hotel work and focused solely on penjor. A friend asked me to make some for a trade exhibition in Denpasar, and after that the business started to take off as more people got to know me.
My wife and I have two children: Wayan, whoâ€™s 24 and working as a waiter at a hotel in Kuta, and our daughter Kadek Meliani – sheâ€™s 19 and has just graduated in one of college in Denpasar and is helping out with the business. I feel lucky that I have children that respect their parents. In Bali, if you have a son and daughter, your life is perfect; you donâ€™t need anything else. You just have to make sure they have the right education.
Penjor is a long, tapered bamboo pole thatâ€™s placed in front of houses and complete with coconut leaves as decoration. They measure three until 10 meters, sometimes more. In Balinese Hinduism, itâ€™s a symbol of the dominance of the good spirit (Dharma) over the bad spirit (A Dharma) and also thanks God for providing rice and fruit so we can survive. During Baliâ€™s biggest ceremony, Galungan, youâ€™ll see lots of penjor on the streets and all the areas look beautiful. These days, penjor is not just used for our religion, though â€“ theyâ€™re also used for weddings, hotels and artistic performances. The price varies, from Rp300,000 (US$32.69) to Rp2.5 million, depending on how big and complete they are. We can make up to six a day; if one is really big, it can take three days to finish.
Thereâ€™s no fixed time for lunch, sometimes midday, other times 3pm, if thereâ€™s lots to do. I eat anything, including pork, and I have to have rice. Iâ€™ve had Western food, but my palate is not used to it so I donâ€™t like it that much. Right now there are so many orders for penjor thatâ€™s thereâ€™s barely any time to stop and eat.
In the afternoons I take a rented van and make deliveries, but only in the Kuta area. Outside of there, customers have to pick up themselves. I buy the bamboo in northern Bali, as the quality is better and it doesnâ€™t break so easily and lasts longer. I donâ€™t want to disappoint my customers. I used to use coconut leaves but Iâ€™ve changed to palm leaves; coconut leaves only last five days, while palm lasts three months without fading.
At evening time I tell my staff to rest and we have dinner together. Itâ€™s nice that we all get on well and are close, and thereâ€™s no bad feelings. We like to sit around and chat and joke around. Later, I like to relax by watching television, but lately thereâ€™s been so much to do that thereâ€™s been no time. Iâ€™ve had to stop taking orders two weeks up to Galungan â€“ otherwise we wouldnâ€™t be able to finish on time. Itâ€™s not unusual now to see me working until midnight.
My life is good â€“ thereâ€™s no pressure â€“ and each night before I fall asleep, I thank God for giving me a way to live.