Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Healing again

Dear sisters,

Back from our summer traveling, I have been catching up on healing, as if my life depended on it, and, if I am to believe one or two of the healers I have seen, maybe it does.

The massage from God.

I have so far, had two efficient 30-minute massages by
Ketut Arsana, who is the man of the Bodyworks emporium. You always have to book ahead. The massage involves waiting, until the short, long-bearded man with sparkly eyes, arrives, to lead you past the chained upside-down bat, past the fish, past the herb boxes, under the beaded curtains, up the stairs and more stairs, to the roof where you are led into his little room of dark timber, with bookcases full of books, and a single massage table. He gestures, without talking, for you to undress, completely, and so you step, in glorious nakedness, with hardly a modesty sheet, onto the table, and then he begins. No faffing around with introductory strokes. It is different for everyone, but with me it involved Ketut walking over my back a lot. Now, this is a good massage.

Aryuvedic consult with Uma.

I am a mixed body type: Vahta, Pitta, and Kahpa, ratio 1:2:3, but mostly at this time I need to balance Vahta. This means breathing exercises at dawn, lots of swimming in cool water and no strenuous yoga in the afternoons. Resting between 2 and 6 and a daily massage if possible. No dairy or spicy foods, no tomatoes or bananas. I am to avoid too much travel, any kind of stimulation or sensory overload. That will have to be after Burning man, then.

Also some energy work is suggested, as I have suspected blockages behind the heart.

Pak Man

Pak Man lives in my street. It is the second house up the path, past the laundry. Behind the walls a garden lies, with twinkling wind chimes and bird-filled cages in the trees. You sit cross-legged on the patio and make small talk with Pak Man’s english speaking female partner, who translates, as Pak man closes his eyes, chain-smoking, now and then flicking his long grey ponytail with the back of his hand, muttering a question or advice when it comes up.

We speak of the body being a car, driven by the mind. If the car crashes, it is not the car’s fault.

Pak Man at some point stands up and walks around his garden, hacks off a coconut with a big knife, walks inside, closes the glass doors, and then, brusquely, the curtains. After a long while, small talk is really done by now, I am invited inside.

Pak Man gives me the most painful massage I have ever had, cracks and clicks every bone in my body including the bones on the top of my hands and my feet, and then finally makes me eat two flowers followed by a glass of young coconut juice and then another glass of what seems like water with glycerin floating on top. “Pak Man medicine” his partner explains, with no intention of revealing the ingredients.

She continues to translate, after she lights another cigarette of her own, blowing fresh smoke into the air: "Right, so, ..Pak Man says you are not doing well"

My pancreas is blocked, there is salt in my kidneys and the root of the cancer has not gone. But! Do not despair, she says; "Pak Man can work on it."

He could not open everything in my body during this session, as it was still too painful for me, but I could return. In the meantime I should drink young coconut juice every day and have a good time.

When all else fails: eye-lash extension

I drove down to Seminyak and lay on a reclining chair, listening to French chansons for ninety minutes, while a sweet girl took great care to stick hair extensions onto each one of my measly eyelashes.

So far, but I am still processing all the information, I have recognized the need for many massages and am considering the daily coconut juice. I have also gracefully accepted the compliments for my eyes, although showering with goggles is a nuisance.

I leave for San Francisco and Burning Man tonight. When we return, I intend to go to one or two of the energy healers in and around Ubud and the recommended Chinese acupuncturist in the South. Just to get them all in before we go.

S3, I see you on this sweet island, when I return.
If you travel safe, so will I.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

A story about an offer puppy

Dear sisters,

Someone from school, let's call him Jim, was taking his three children to school by car, their driver behind the wheel, when they drove through a village and had to slow down for a group of puppies frolicking (nice word) in the road.

Balinese dogs excel at moving out of the way at the very, very last moment, and Balinese puppies learn early, so when the driver accelerated, the puppies scattered and jumped to safety just in time, as they had been taught. All except one. One of the puppies stumbled over his own feet and was hit by the car.

Understandably, the three children in the back seat were upset and Jim only managed to calm them down by promising to come back for the puppy after they had been taken to school, and make sure it received proper treatment.

Jim, true to his word, returned to the village with his driver, where they found the puppy lying injured in a yard. Jim watched as the driver negotiated with the villagers, who were apparently protesting, but he came back with the wounded puppy. They drove the puppy to a vet, who determined the dog had a broken leg, which could be treated. Jim would have to pay 200.000 Rhupia ($20)for the treatment, which he said was not a problem.

"Ah but this is a perfect offer dog."

Jim looked at the vet.

Not knowing that puppies were offered, he asked

" What makes this puppy the perfect offer dog? "

"The coloring; brown with black markings make it ideal for the offering."

So, basically, if Jim intended on returning the dog to where he found it, the vet would not treat the dog, as it would more than likely be offered soon anyway.

Jim suggested keeping the dog himself, then.

It was the driver's turn to become upset. He had solemnly promised to return the dog to the villagers.

The vet added that, by the way, if he kept the puppy, there was a good chance it would soon be stolen, as a good offer puppy can fetch as much as 1.3 million Rhupia ($130) on the market.

It was a happy ending for this puppy. They went back to the village and paid a price- the story does not say how much - puppy's leg was fixed and puppy was adopted by a loving expat family in Sanur, who live behind walls and have security to prevent abduction.

We asked Nyoman about the puppy offering business, Yes, he said, puppies are offered to appease the demons. They are used in cleansing ceremonies. He was skeptical about the price quoted above for such a puppy, however.

We asked how many puppies his village offered each year, just to get a feel for this practice. Not each year, he said, only one every three years.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Dear sisters,

You may have got the idea we are not doing much on this island except traveling and relaxing, but we are also working. My husband and I, at this midlife stage of our life, are both working at becoming nicer people for the second half, and hope to show you the results at Christmas.

We are not flaying our arms around blindly in this attempt, hoping it will just happen by saying it out loud. We are also looking to others who have done and thought about it longer than we have. What does it take?

The Balinese for example – I do not know how they keep it up – but they show no signs of road rage in traffic that begs for it. They toot modestly when they wish to pass a motorcyclist, carrying the full content of house and family, and wait patiently when cars and coaches are backing up in the middle of the street. I did not believe it was really true, so I have been watching Nyoman closely, our patient driver, as these daily events occur, hoping to catch him at an outward sign of annoyance. I have caught him once at a cluck under the tongue, when two big hairy Australians refused to back up on a dirt road, and a nervous chuckle when a woman on motorcycle swerved in front of the car, because she was talking on her mobile phone. He laughed and waved at her, after she turned to smile at him apologetically and they went on their way, none the worse for the incident.

Allard has been impressed by this Swami guy, Swami Vagishananda, affectionately known as Swamiji, who for some reason has a large following of tall Swedish men. He lived in seclusion for a long time and has had time to ponder. Now making up for lost time he has been described as "an ever-flowing, sparkling waterfall of Mother Sruti's sacred words."

Central and essential to his teaching are mantras you have to repeat many times, until they are engrained in your person. I think it takes years of chanting. That is a lot, for which you certainly need a prayer bead necklace with a tassle to count your mantras as you say them, by itself a wonderful accessory in Ubud.

All this is retold from a second hand telling, of course, so I am not taking responsibility for accuracy. I haven’t seen Swamiji in person (apparently women are not as keen on him as men) and have yet to be seduced by mantras, but for the time being, the three guidelines for happiness that Allard brought home with him, are being repeated in our household.

The solution for happiness, as I understand from Allard’s recap is this:

1) do not try and change anyone (which means do not give unsolicited advice):
2) do not communicate in an emotional state
3) give all the rest away to Shiva, “let it go” – “namaha”.

So, the message to you sisters is; if you want to my advice from now on, you will have to ask for it. That is a good start, don’t you think?

The second one is a very good one for my marriage, assuming emotional state includes the state one is in after two bottles of wine. I now have credible back-up from Ji.

The third one is the most difficult. I am trying, with my chemically induced hormonal imbalance, to not let my nerves fray and my voice rise inverse proportionally – yes, even in Paradise - as my son lets me call his name five times as I stand beside him, before acknowledging my presence, or my daughter for running off to her room, throwing herself dramatically onto the bed and weeping for the smallest thing that does not suit her, or the internet for throwing me out at a crucial moment in the reservation process, or indeed my sloppy chakaranga’s in my yoga class this morning.

“Namaha”, we keep saying to each other, -“give it away to Shiva's thick blue neck. She can take it."

I am not sure it is engrained yet. We may need some more guidance. I think a meditation course is coming up. We have only four more months to look around before we return to the real world. Time just floats away here.

If you find me boring when I return, please give it to Shiva.