48 Hours Later
What really do a pair of 36 year olds and a 25 year old have in common? Aside from being supposed to conform to some misguided vision of fatherhood and corporate rat, plenty, it seems. The chasm of age and culture narrows after asinine high school jokes that contain one or several words for genitalia and their uses are traded. Well, it seems that boys will be boys. We were, on our best behaviour, most of the time, and I bit down on my tongue many times in an attempt to maintain a semblance of maturity, being the oldest in the group.
Regardless, of our differences, I am glad to have met and the opportunity to work with these guys. For one, we all have the same approach to life, the same measure of curiosity and tolerance for travels off well worn trails, wherever that path might lead. Having the most experience writing, I have become the de-facto literary “face” of the group. Andrew, having the most experience on screen, commercially, is best on video and Bryan, with the least wrinkles probably looks the best bounding around shirtless.
The next two days were, a little more relaxed compared to the first. Most of the activities were found in the vicinity of the tri-city mini metropolis of Ampenan, Mataram and Cakranegara. On the outskirts, we tried our hand at throwing and firing pots, at Banyumulek. The local earthenware comes in all forms from flowerpots to water jugs which, are very good at keeping water cool. This is an exceptionally valuable property in the sweltering island heat. The clay is locally sourced and spun on a pottery wheel, placed in front of the potter sitting crossed-legged. Firing is done on a fire, as opposed to inside a kiln. It was curious to note that we saw only women engaged in this activity, to which the explanation that men tended to the fields was offered.
On Lombok, three Hindu temples stand out from the rest in terms of significance. Within the city itself, is Pura Tama Mayura. It was the seat of the Hindu rulers since 1744 and also the scene of their demise when they committed ritual suicide (Puputan), as the Dutch overran the compound in 1894. The site is today a park where many come to seek respite from the buzz of the city. There is a large lake in front of a functioning temple compound where you can find the faithful going about their prayers and offerings.
The temples of Namada and Lingsar are further from the city and require wheeled transport. Namada has, within its grounds, a spring. Its waters are channeled to feed an Olympic-sized swimming pool that serves training policemen and on other days, local kids looking to while away a long sunny afternoon. Other pools at Namada are home to eels that will pop their heads out from crevices to feast on boiled eggs that one can purchase for that purpose. The eels don’t always make an appearance but when they do, it is said to be an omen of good fortune.
Pura Lingsar, is perhaps the most special temple on Lombok for accommodating Muslim and Hindu devotees alike. The island itself has strong roots in both religions and Pura Lingsar is one place where it is evident that the residents of Lombok coexist harmoniously with their neighbours of different religions and creed. Aside from mainstream Hinduism and Islam, some communities on the island practice religions that incorporate various measures of Hinduism, Animism and Islam. What I liked about these temples was that it was more than just for devotion. Many locals also come to spend leisure time. Most notable the many anglers huddled at the edge of the many pools with a rod and net. At particularly crowded spots, hawkers call out for passerbys to entice them with all manner of snacks. The variety of activity lend the place a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
Along the way, I also tried my hand at basket weaving – another activity reserved for women. Long coils of a stiff, bark-like material is twisted around a frame to make baskets, mats and other types of containers. 10 minutes, and I lost my patience. It wasn’t difficult work, just incredibly tedious. The products, however, were exquisite considering the time and effort needed to produce each piece. The “factories” were all basically run by each household within a village. All idle hands were roped into the production. In this particular household that I visited, Grandma, Mom and at least 5 kids were busy weaving all kinds of basketry.
There is a decidedly different flavour to journeys that aren’t a rush to take in as much as possible in the time available. Today was a slow day, where we got to speak with random people.
We took some time to watch a local soccer game. There were some amongst us who needed a soccer fix. I, for one could never see the point of 22 men kicking a ball around. And apparently, I have been given warning not to refer to the beautiful game as “soccer”. It has to be properly addressed as FOOTBALL. You use a foot, you kick a ball – ok, I can call it football if it pleases everyone.
But to me, the best thing about taking it slow on Lombok, is to soak in the scenery, and hike up your pants to traipse through it.