Continued from Part 1
So it is December 13th 2012 and my fiancé, Kadek, is kidnapping me at my parents home in Bali to take me to his family in Kubutambahan, Buleleng in the north of Bali. I’m dressed up in a simple sarong & kebaya. Nervous as can be and just short of biting my fingernails down to non-existence (and I never bite my nails). The two hour ride through many villages on the north coast of Bali is uneventful. I keep asking Kadek what to expect of the next few days, but Balinese are not very elaborate in their communication and Kadek is not a natural conversationalist. So the answers I get are vague and basically leave me with no idea of what I will be going through.
“Grin and bear it” as my Dad would say.
Kadek’s home is directly on the main road, but I don’t recognize it because of the canopy and fence at the front of the house take up half the road. There were two signs on each end of this “reception” area to apologize for the obstruction, my brother in law borrowed these from the PLN (power supplier in Indonesia). These signs seemed to be enough for the heavy traffic on this road. It did not seem the bother the truck drivers, the cars transporting tourists and the millions of motorcyclists (might be an exaggeration) driving in either direction on this main road. Of course there were the many motorcycles from family and friends parked on either side of the “reception area” too. The patience of the Balinese never ceases to amaze me.
Before I can set foot on the premises, I have place offerings at the entrance and pray with my fiancé. I just imitate what Kadek is doing and hope that the Gods and/or Goddesses can forgive me for being ignorant of the proper form of prayer. On entering Kadek’s home I am stunned by the number of people (apparently all family members of some kind – I just cannot keep track of who is who) that actually fit in this tiny area. Add to that the number of tables with offerings of all shapes and sizes that my new family has been preparing for weeks and still is preparing as I stand there with my mouth agape.
No time to waste! I am dragged by my future sister in law to help with the preparations. Now I am a person who is not afraid to try out a new craft and have used my hands in various skills (woodworking, drawing, crochet, baking, tiling my bathroom floor and walls and much more), but let me tell you that the art of creating offerings from palm leaves is not as simple as it looks. I was given a simple task of creating decorations after all other forms of palm weaving, cutting or folding were obviously beyond my abilities. Who needs wedding planners when you have the whole family helping out!
Those that had not met me before would stare at me (openly like children do) and I guess many did not know that Kadek was to marry a non-Indonesian. Obviously from the open stares they were wondering what this white skinned woman was doing at this domestic event. Many asked my mother-in-law if I even spoke bahasa (Bahasa Indonesia – the official language in Indonesia). I wonder what language they thought I used when addressing my family to be. I sat on a raised platform exchanging words with complete strangers, folding and “sewing” palm leaves, sipping on tuak (a local alcoholic drink) and getting acquainted with family members and old family friends. Little did I know that this would be the last time I would be allowed to drink alcohol at my own wedding in public. This being Bali the women were busy with preparations, offerings and gossip and the men were very busy with talk and drink – tuak! Rarely would you see the women and men sitting together other than for a brief exchange of words. I obviously was not fitting in – chatting and drinking with the men. What was I thinking?
Sometime in the late evening my fiancé informed I was to go to bed and rest for the next day. I had been talking to the pig (that was to be our meal for the next day), so wished Miss Pig a good night, my fiancé a happy celebration and went off to bed – alone. Preparations and tuak drinking continued into the early morning hours and I fell asleep wondering what the next day would bring. Remember my fiancé was not being very communicative about what I was to expect. To be continued………………