Behind the scenes

​We returned to the ‘bazzar‘ last night. It was definitely dress-up night for the children, especially the little girls in their pretty party frocks. Quite the crowd in attendance and at one stage a party of at least 40 people turned up, mostly men, all wearing identical outfits. Tables were pushed together to accommodate them all. We learned that they were members of an amateur radio group from all over the regency of Gianyar. Regencies are a political unit in Indonesia and Bali has eight. The Gianyar Regency incorporates Ubud. It was a big night out for the radio hams.

Food and beverage service was so efficient that we ventured beyond the eating and entertainment area to see how it all worked. A small city was humming behind the scenes. Everyone had a job to do and just getting on with it. Older men were chopping up goat meat. The next group were threading this onto skewers that went to the grilling group. We had eaten some of this sate kambing earlier and it was delicious. We heard later that there was an emergency dash to Klungkung, about 20km away to get more goat meat, demand had been so high.

Women were preparing plates of rice, while others were serving the goat curry or green vegetables to accompany them. There was a veritable lake of iced water chilling the high-demand Bintang.

Meanwhile at the pass, tickets were lined up and orders processed swiftly to be handed to the younger boys acting as waiters. Everybody worked harmoniously and happily, even though tiredness must surely have set in on this third night.

The strength of Bali is its community life. After the extended family, the banjar is the fundamental social unit and every village will have several banjars of perhaps up to 100 of these families. We don’t usually get to see the ticking of the banjar mechanics, only its effects for a wedding, cremation or temple ceremony when everybody contributes. But last night we were able to see the process of pulling off a big event like this, when the common interest pulls the community together. We have lost something of this in industrialised, individualistic societies and it seems a pity.

In the early early hours, just at the edge of my sleepiness, came the sound of singing. Male harmonies, undoubtedly fuelled by bir Bintang, as the men unwound after a busy night. Village life at its best.

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