By I Made Avilla
Jan 30, 2007, 07:01
The photo left is of the new Indonesian film “Long Road To Heaven” which tells the story of the Bali 2002 bombing from both the victims and the bombers perspectives. We think the picture at least is representational of many foreigners in Bali, but at the same time insulting to the majority of real Balinese and westerners. We also believe it is a worrying reflection as to how Indonesians generally perceive the expatriate Balinese community; too often a bunch of ego, narcotics and alcohol assisted spiritual frauds who are searching for something that does not exist and therefore they can never have. What do you think? Is that being harsh or vindictive or looking at facts in the cold light of day? We believe 100% it is the later.
We speak of those amongst the expatriate community in Bali, great in number, who are there partly or fully for spiritual enlightenment, they say (OK, yah). Do not forget many expatriates may well distance themselves from the hard core spiritualists, but take a look around and see how many on the fringes you can find; just look for published photos of them wearing traditional Balinese dress and ask yourselves why?! Some might say that this shows integration and respect, but when you look closely at the number of expatriates with less than comfortable poises, supercilious grins, fashionable interpretations of Balinese dress and the apparent too often need to appear central to and above the Balinese people around them, we’d say not.
Hands up all Bali expats who think the film image is bang on one of the omnipresent Seminyak OK yah spiritualist community. OK, now hands up everyone who agrees the middle class Balinese in and around Seminyak and Canggu can not stand this expatriate community with many refusing to so much as speak to them? So what have they found spiritually? It seems the Desperately Seeking Shiva brigade has simply wholesale rasterized and then stolen Bali’s culture, or at least the parts tolerable to them. No typical Balinese family compounds or tiny worker apartments for them, oh no! Lovely western standard villas, western salaries and / or bank balances, shopping in Singapore (searching out those wonderful fashion accessories to augment their Balinese garb) and dinner, dinner, dinner at Ku De Ta (Balinese for “Thanks for the revolution” perhaps?). So why do these "nanas" seek something they do not want?
Further, when it comes to Balinese spirituality we counted 27 Hindu Gods; sorry if we missed any. We wonder how it is westerners have a feasibility problem with one God but then come to Bali and somehow start believing in 27! Forgive us, but isn’t that regression fueled by a need for the next fix of smiling, subservient Balinese, somehow mystical Gamelan music perpetrating every nook and cranny of their comfortable fake abodes at night, swaying palm trees and other aesthetic diversions? Aren’t these people in fact unhappy with their past lives and faced with such pseudo colonial anesthetics, fixating on their somehow superior version of westerner only club Balinese spirituality and culture? Did someone in Ville de Seminyak says “No”?! OK, so name the 27 Hindu Gods off the top of your head and remind us which one exactly it is you pray to at night!
Isn’t it a fact the Balinese maintain their culture a) because that is all they have left after years of rape by the Javanese plus greedy, often dopey foreigners, and b) their religion and everyday talk is about a better next life, because their existing life here on earth, in Bali, this falsely alleged tropical and spiritual paradise is so damn retched? No? Why? Because they go around smiling at you all the time? Have you never heard of the expression "Grin and bear it"? Do you bother to look at their faces as they turn away? Do you think having the region’s highest suicide and crime rate indicates contentment, inner spiritual harmony? How about the George Institute for International Health in Sydney research that showed Indonesia has the highest levels of elevated blood pressure in the world? How about research and statements by UNICEF that Bali has one of the largest pedophile problems in the world and is the center for Australian pedophile rings; do these charming pillars of expatriate society wear traditional dress too, perhaps when they are befriending their next victim? How about all the sad Seminyak singles slightly past their sell by date who date Balinese, or rather a certain kind of Indonesian who are untypical sexually active with westerners but who do not charge as such, then having regularly to take trips to Singapore to rid themselves of “tropical diseases”. That’s not fair? Have you sat in one of the fashion statement restaurants of the area and had to listen to it? We have!
Then of course there are all of their rental properties from which they derive a living and claim to social position and benevolence to the every day Balinese; swanky designer “Balinese” style mansions. How Balinese is that? Oh, right, “designer Balinese” with plenty of emphasis on the “western designer” part. It is ironic these villas are somehow “Balinese” according to the plethora of self-congratulatory web sites and luxury travel rags, yet we have never seen a Balinese living in such a home. Ah, there it is, western Balinese villas and westerners' Balinese spirituality are parallel antonyms to the real Bali. These wannabes in Seminyak and elsewhere crave something other than what they elude to, plus seek what does not exist except in their fleeting and wholly selfish observations and interpretations of the real Balinese community around them. Selfish? Sure, how many of these villas are licensed and pay taxes? How many of these villas provide decent working conditions and renumerations for their staff? How many pocket some or all of the service charges? How many run twin book systems collecting money overseas that only ever sees the light of day in Bali via the ATM / bank cash machine on the way to some fashionable chow hall?
Yes, yes, there are bound to be some wholesome, ethical, genuinely integrated into Balinese society members of Seminyak’s expat community, but we don’t know any. Of course the Ku De Ta fashion frock fraternity is not the only expatriate “community” that we could easily berate, but the publicity photo of a “Long Road To Heaven” reminded us of these social frauds who do nothing for Bali or themselves. We do not say these things out of spite; we say them in the hope of mutually beneficial and long overdue change. For 27 God's sake, get a life and give the Balinese a chance of a decent one too.
Thinking about staying in a villa in Seminyak or Canggu? We say best check them out for Balinese friendliness first, ignore the designer Balinese yarn and go for something from the true fabric of Bali.