Saturday, August 20, 2011

ducks laughing hee hee!

ducks laughing hee hee!
roosters crying aha! ha!
blend with the silence

Ketut comes by on his motorbike around 6 am to pick me up for a field trip, a rice field trip. We drive along the south end of Monkey Forest, then turn down a path through rice fields to a small modern house he's building as a rental. It has two rooms, one up, one down, each with a large marble bathroom. There is a little kitchen area outside the main building. The floors upstairs are wood and there are two balconies with views of rice paddies, a small stream and Mt. Gunung Agung to the east. The holiest mountain on Bali looks like Fuji-san. Ketut comes here every morning to do yoga asanas for an hour and a half. This is not usual for Balinese, whose spiritual practice is primarily praying and making offerings. Ketut has observed Robin and me do asanas in the morning and she always introduces me as a Hindu mantra meditator, so he must feel that I will appreciate his yoga practice, and perhaps I might know someone who would like to rent his house when it's finished. He strips to shorts and does a set of serious asanas, beginning and ending with a short, full-chested chant. I do my usual quarter of an hour of asanas and then meditate. The silence inside blends with the sound of roosters crying, aha! ha!, a gaggle of ducks sloshing through the rice paddy, laughing hee hee hee!, a bamboo clacker clack-clacking, and a man yelling to scare away crows as he makes the rounds of the ripening rice heads, bowing low. After we finish our respective morning rituals, we talk for awhile. He asks me if I do japa. I tell him that's what I was just doing, practicing Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which involves effortlessly thinking a mantra with eyes closed. He says he repeats the Mahamrityunjaya mantra, the "great death-defying" mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva. We talk about my poetry book, which I am having published here, on handmade Balinese paper. Perhaps because I am a poet, Ketut asks me to name this house. I gaze out from the balcony, searching for a name that will reflect the feeling of this little house and its setting. There is the little stream, the majestic mountain. Then I notice a large tree with dark shiny leaves and ask him its name. He says it's a special kind of mango, manga genga, with small, sweet fruit. I smile. Mangoes are my favorite fruit and I also like the musical sound of the name. "That's a good name," I say, "because this house is small and sweet, with a sweet view." He smiles. "Maybe you can stay here, write a book."

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