Friday, April 30, 2010

Ubud fashion (1): the Thai fishermen pants

As a woman of healthy proportions, just turned forty, with a plodding gait, I should maybe not be considering the Thai fishermen’s pants, that can be bought in every second store on Jalan Hanoman in Ubud. You will know the ones if you have ever set foot in town. They are hard to miss; square and wide with a baggy crotch, fold-over pants with ties at the back, which somehow have to be brought forward and fastened at the front. One size fits all.

The pants come in many colors and lengths and usually have a contrasting striped lining on the inside, which shows when folded over. Some are bright pink, green, turquoise or white, but the preferred colors are terra cotta, blacks, greys and browns; backpackers’ colors, which do not show the dirt. For enthusiasts there are various batik motifs. They are cheap and cheerful and many people succumb to buying them, as witnessed on the streets of Ubud.

I have been able to differentiate roughly five different dressing groups on the streets(not counting the local Balinese):
a) The old fashioned tourist; with money-belt, cargo shorts, t-shirts with tight, round collars, the sun-shocked flesh underneath, pushing against the fabric, which is just a little too transparent. On the women; new cheap sundresses that only look good on the young and nonchalant, hanging awkwardly on most others. You can see their sandals were bought just for the trip and still need to soften to the feet.

b) The backpackers in grey/khaki tones, hiking boots, walking with the backpacks on the front of the body, arms wrapped around for extra protection. Their faces are a little red and transpiring from the effort (“yes, we had a great time, really...”), making their way to their homestay on the uneven road. They smile politely and shake their head, saying: “no thanks” to the shouts for ‘transport’ or ‘taxi’, coming from the midst of men chatting on the street, hardly making an effort to win a client.

C) The yogis and yoginis – with their 'om' shirts, flip flops (black havianas)and a collection of leather bracelets around the wrists, sipping their spirulina drinks at Kafe and Bali Buddah. The men may wear their beaded necklaces with tassles. The ladies brought their Lululemons with them, or got new pants just down the road at the Yoga shop.

d) The expats, meeting together in Bar Luna with their laptops, drinking excellent Italian coffee, looking busy and earnest, discussing the latest visa problems.

e) The spiritualists, with their singlets and sarongs, the men that is. The ladies wear tattoos and silver anklets with bells and wrap long scarfs around their head.

The above groups are not mutually exclusive and cross pollination regularly occurs. Most have incorporated the fishermen pants into their style of dressing, to a varying degree of success. It is only a question of time, it seems, before you do.

We joked when we arrived that we would know when we were starting to lose our grip on reality, the moment we would start to dress like this.

But you know, acceptance slowly seeps in, the steps are gradual. Not noticeable if you are close by, like a child growing. So it may yet happen.

I wasn’t intending on buying a pair of fishermen pants, convinced I did not need this item in my life. But the other day I found myself bargaining, as I was waiting for my ride. Ten minutes and the equivalent of ten dollars later, and voila!: a pair of medium length grey Thai fishermen pants with a contrasting grey striped lining were mine. Allard has a few too. They are really handy for yoga, you know.

Once I got home I tried them on, but found there is a skill to the wearing. All I achieved was something resembling a garbage sack pulled in at the top, and I know what you’re saying: it isn’t far off.

But then Allard explained to me you have to fold the top on either side before you tie and fold, like so.

I have practiced and although still a little wary, I dare wear them out. It is like they say on the internet, when you google 'Thai fishermen pants';

Thai Fisherman pants are perfect for those Practitioners that want an authentic look and feel. Do you seek that comfortable loose fitting clothes? They can be worn anytime day or night. Wear them for your Thai massage sessions, yoga, or whenever you are looking for that comfortable feeling. They make perfect pajamas. Also good to provide for clients that are receiving a Thai massage.”

Although undoubtedly they look best on people who would look good in a garbage sack too, and those people most probably would be male and muscled, I will admit they provide me with a certain pleasant breeziness in the heat. I might just buy one more.

Next up in the series on Ubud fashion: the shapeless Batik bag dress.

Love S1

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Month 3 in Paradise

The Japanese are flowing into town, it is their holiday, walking in single file along the side of the busy main Jalan Raya Ubud: sunhats, fanny packs and baggy shorts in place, camera on the belly, alternated by groovy printed hot panted ladies and colorful umbrellas, held up against the sun. The coaches, that just dropped them at the market, back up with difficulty, requiring many people to wave and gesture to get the job done.

“Tourists”, we tut tut under our breath, as we wait in the car to pass.

We have landed in Ubud, cultural and spiritual heart of Bali. With the Japanese, the Ee-Pels (EatPrayLove seekers) are here in abundance, Western woman by themself, of a certain age, who with other spiritual seekers talk about oneness and higher consciousness, words that sound as familiar here as spaghetti bolognese, which on the other hand is not said that often. A vegan diet is the natural choice for most, but a Raw Food diet is the definite superlative, and is generously provided for on the menus.

You can choose between the Tibetan Chiming Bells Therapy or do the "Stand and shake your body for fifteen hours a day" meditation at the Osho ashram: I just heard about that one. It is supposed to release many bad things in your body, including green sweat. Really.

It is the town where if you are sitting in the new vegetarian restaurant, and complain about the (jazz) music because it has been on repeat for an hour, they ask; ”would you like something more spiritual?”

All this is very well, but it sometimes has to be compensated by a visit to the famous warung Ibu Oka, opposite the Palace, for a plate of the most succulent suckling pig on the island, with a Bintang on the side.

Allard is now half way into his month long yoga teacher training. He starts at 6.30 and returns at 6.30 in the evening. He has started coming home grumpier and grumpier, so I am not sure the path to enlightenment is easy, or perhaps too easy. Apparently he is not sweating as much as he would like. Don’t ask him about Yin Yoga! It is not his favorite. As I understand it, it involves staying in a pose for a long time and not using the muscles. But on the other hand yoga is pretty much all he talks about. Those who know my husband might understand. He buys meditations from the internet. We discuss the relative merits of the Dahla Lama meditation and he demonstrates his new breathing techniques when he gets home at night.

(jungle temples)

Jip has a new world atlas and has made a list of places he would like to visit. Great Britain and Ireland are topping the list. Do you think he has had enough of the tropics already?

A year or so ago Rosie often went to school in her brothers t-shirts trailing down to her knees, demanding to be addressed as 'John'. Nowadays she will only wear outfits that match (usually lots of colors with lots of colors) and look 'pretty'. 'Cool' is not a description she wants to hear. In fact a little stamp of the foot might follow such a compliment.

Rosie sings out loud when she plays around the house, self made lyrics which may involve a princess being kissed on the lips by a prince or just a little ditty about coming and going.

“Rosie, be quiet, I can’t concentrate!” Jip will shout, but this does not bother her one bit.

She will continue and Jip will be forced to find a quieter place to read his book.

The new house in Ubud is great with long corridors and glass doors that are opened every morning, looking out onto green palm and papaya trees. We are warming the Japanese minimalist look in the house up a bit with Balinese cushions and strategic lighting.

Now if the rainy season would just stop.

The parents are taking Bali in their stride. Enduring the heat and the rain.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

czech road signs

This is a sign that there is more to come from the Prague department....
very soon !


Greetings dear sisters.
The floating silver angels finally draw back the red velvet curtains to reveal what has been happening here these last few months.
It was a long winter and my keyboard was frozen. But the Bali vibes have melted the frost and spring is here , and so am I with a lot of catching up to do . To tell you the truth i was so amazed with the indonesian colours that i secretly thought that it would be hard to compete , hence the quietness.
But i realise in my wise youth that it is not a competition , it is a feast so i share with you in joy the latest news.

Here you see the latest winter spring fashion 2010 continental style , warm jumpers and patterns are all the rage.
Especially if you are an art student and you don't have that casual teddy bear look , then you can wipe that grin off your face.

Here is another art student who obviously doesn't have the teddy bear jumper ( hence the serious look ) but instead stylishly carries the beaded clock look .This is where i recently ate delicious pancakes where a classmate works.

Enough fashion for now , here is a beautiful fountain that i captured one beautiful sunny sunday when it was still cold , i think it was in march.

And here is a photo of all the footprints in the snow, and someone loves Irene. The last time there was so much snow in Prague was twenty years ago.

This is my very good tree blossom friend i met under a cherry tree in Japan , she is a primary school teacher in Hokkaido but was working for a year in Switzerland milking cows. She says that cows are very good listeners. She came to Prague for a week and we laughed so much we had muscle ache in our jaws and tummies. She says that in India exists a tribe that meet once a month and do nothing but laugh together. I like this religion, sounds healthy. This is a photo of my friends in our first 3D experience, we went to see the new Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and after that we had an Alice in Wonderland week in Prague.

And this is another good friend, my accordeon player for the puppet shows, this was his own concert and it was very nice indeed!

And this was my first solo exhibition in Prague ! I was a little nervous but lots of friends came and it was a really gezellige evening. I said to everyone that i wouldn't do a speech unless there was a microphone , thinking that there would never in the world be a microphone and ofcourse there was one ! Luckily I had cunningly planned a little speech before , imagining i would thank madonna and michael as my main sources of inspiration and that i would like to sing a song for everyone , total eclipse of the heart as a finale of the amazing speech.
It turned out though that i was speaking in czech and after i had said" Good evening" very slowly all my class mates cheered me on , clapping and yelping with joy. I said the name of the exhibtion was " Bubbles " because i believe everyone lives in their own bubble. Again everyone applauded and cheered. Just as i was getting into it and relaxed ( i think i started raising my voice a bit in the excitement and with the red wine ) , the organiser came along and casually whipped the microphone out of my hands ( thank goodness) So my speech was short but sweet, to the point i would say.

This is the banjo player that played experimental underground banjo songs at the vernisage. It was more for listening but in my excitement i did a little dance ( silly me ). I think im going a little bit folksy with all these banjo's and accordeon's . Dear family , will you ever forgive me ?

Here are some strange creatures from the prague jungle, they can fly and swim and like to eat bread.

And this is a detail of a wonderful czech artist that lived in a forest and made thousands of coloured woodprints, i went to see his exhibiton and it was amazing, very juicy colours , still fresh from 80 years ago ! His name is Vachal .

And here is my favourite song of the moment as an ode to the spring , hurray !

Lots of Love
Sister numero 3