Sunday, December 4, 2011

gesturing with her hands

gesturing with her hands
with a man in black and white --
the heart and the head

Up at 3:30, Robin awake too. We do some asanas together. The priest sees us and tells Robin he is "shy" because he can't talk to me. I say, "Tell him we speak to each other from our hearts."
          Robin is sitting on the bale talking with Patminya, the head of Bumi Sehat, Happy Child Foundation. She says, "He is the head, I am the heart. After I left Bali, the foundation fell apart." She is using a lot of hand gestures while she speaks in Bahasa Indonesia, which means "language of Indonesia," the official national language. She translates for me from time to time, but I feel like I am holding them back and I wish I could speak the language. I do occasionally recognize words that sound like Sanskrit or Dutch or Portuguese, not surprising, since their language, like English, has borrowed from many other languages. Robin tells me that the majority of words, even those referring to people, don't distinguish between the genders. On the other hand, an important distinction is made between older and younger. Everyone must know his/her place in the age hierarchy.
          Patminya is dressed all in black and white, representing the balance of good and evil. He is the leading expert on Hinduism on the island, has written many books and can read English. He and his wife live in Gianyar, where he is getting his Ph.d. He has come to ask her permission to campaign for her to come back, but only if she wants to. He wants to move back to the village, but his wife will come only if Robin and Wil are here, for intellectual and spiritual support. He has really big plans but feels he can't achieve them by himself. He is trying to change "bad" cultural habits and promote "good" ones. At 47, he's feeling frustrated in the pursuit of his goals. For example, the local hotel, a New Age spa, only hires outside people and won't let Balinese children swim in the pool, even two of Robin's children, half Chinese, who look Balinese. When Robin lived here, she tried to buy a year's pass so they could swim there but the hotel wouldn't back down. Unfortunately, discrimination seems to be a world-wide phenomenon.

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