Bali Twenty-Five Years Later

1998 > Indonesia

Twenty-five years ago I was born on Bali

Ahh.. how cute!
Me! See I was cute from birth.
In Bali the men do all the work. Here Suweko
is chopping chicken for dinner in 1973.
My first home
This is the house I first lived in. Now Rassman has it
leased to an Aulstrailan couple for 10 years. They were not home,
so I did not go inside. I don’t think it looks anything like where
we once lived.\
The Rassman Empire
These are the other houses Rassman rents out. The
house on the left is occupied by a German artist, while the one on the
right was empty.
Twenty five years ago I was born on Bali, at the hospital
in the city of Denpasar. My parents were living in Australia at
the time and my Mom had a dream about me. She dreamed she would
give birth to me on Bali, so off they went. My Mom is the wild one
in our family.

parents were living on Bali for a while before the fateful day. One February
day in 1973, my parents went surfing. My Dad was body surfing huge
Indian Ocean waves on Kuta beach, with my Mom, nine months pregnant,
surfing on an inflatable raft in the shorebreak. Dad remembers
bodysurfing a huge rouge wave, and on his way to shore realizing his son
would be born that day.

They were at dinner when my Mom was surprised by her water breaking.
An alarmed couple, the woman obviously in labour, made an
interesting, and profitable proposition to the taxi drivers waiting
outside the restaurant. After a bargaining session, where the
price went up every time a labour pain hit my Mom, they were off to the

Mom demanded an English speaking doctor when she was presented
with Balinese midwife birthing team. The only English speaking
doctor was a man, unallowable in the birthing room in 1973 Bali. After
a few choice words were exchanged he was allowed, but had to be behind a
screen. I was born at 5 am, and life was good.

ears are not able too equalize right after birth, so my parents had to
stay in Bali for a few months, oh darn! They moved from the beach
in the artist community of Ubud in the hills of Bali. There they
rented a house in the rice fields from two enterprising Indonesians,
Rassman and his brother-in-law Swueko.

We lived in Swueko’s house,
but paid Rassman for the accommodations and the new cement block kitchen
he built. Prior to the kitchen, he would cook meals in the
bathroom, which wold be questionable even in a home with running water.

lived there for three months, then the government of Indonesia politely
asked us to leave. They are smart. If it wasn’t for the
iron-clad 60 day visa limit, quite a few people would go to visit, and
never leave. Rassman figured his out early on, and so he started
renting out his home to tourists who wanted to stay the full 60 days in
Ubud. He started with one place, Swuekos, and now he has four
homes and Swueko has three. He came quite a way from the poor rice
farmer my parents knew.



Part of my trip to Bali was to see Rassman again. I
figured he wouldn’t recognize me now, I’ve changed a bit in 25
years, but I wanted to know more about this man my parents spoke
of so much. When I finally found Rassman, I was quite
excited. I hoped for an evening of memories about my
family’s time with him and his life since then. Unfortunately,
Rassman didn’t remember anything about us. Nothing, nada,
zip. It was quite a blow to me.

dare anyone forget me?!

I guess my unique personality wasn’t
obvious at that young of an age. Twenty-five years of foreigners
living in his home, and my lack of photos of him and my parents
together, probably didn’t do much to help. His English and my Indonesian
were not good enough to get past the basics of life. I’m not even sure
if he understood who I was, or even cared. Life is still hard for an Indonesian.

One Comment on “Bali Twenty-Five Years Later

  1. How could he not remember??????

    I have a memory like a diary, I went to India 25 years ago, I still believe people recognize me from that long ago because I haven’t changed that much. But maybe you don’t always what to remember everything.

    How old was he when your parents knew him?