Anyone who has been to Bali knows that crowing roosters are unavoidable. It is what Bali is about. People go there to infuse themselves with the sound of crowing roosters. They want to find their spiritual selves again and have great hopes of continuing on their ‘journey’. Indeed, the spring solstice of their birthright is embedded in a visit to Bali. Anyone who has seen roosters know they don’t crow for nothing. Roosters are serial monogamists. But, as always there are downsides. Chicken eating is also big in Bali.
No street stall would be without ayam goreng. It is common to see motor bikes parked along the road that have their owners barbequing chilli marinated chicken pieces on small charcoal fires. It is somewhat pitiful to see live chickens, feet tied together, hanging upside down from the handle bars of those motorbikes, waiting their turn while comrades being slaughtered and cooked along the road. However, Bali is poor and the tourist chicken eating does provide a few dollars for families that are still living a very marginal life.
Some years ago we stayed in Ubud’s Bali in one of those delightful ‘home stays’. Most of them are run by families. Balinese families are not like our nuclear compact model of mum and dad with 1.6 kids in private isolation behind the blinds and fence. No, they are huge with hundreds of aunties, uncles, even Royals. Funerals are big events. Not surprising with so many siblings.
One day a couple walked through our sun drenched tropical home stay. Palms waving in the wind and the day was full of beginnings and activity was on the rise. I remember it well, as I was outside reading Patrick White’s ‘Vivisector,’ We had enjoyed a generous breakfast of golden crispy pancakes with black coffee, for which Bali, apart from roosters, is also world-wide known. The couple stopped in front of our small veranda, encouraged perhaps by seeing an English language novel and asked; are there any roosters here as well? Sure, said my wife. Why do you ask, how many do you want ?
Oh no, she said, (with a strong US/Canada accent.) We haven’t been able to sleep well because of the roosters waking us up. My wife raised an eyebrow and said; Oh, we sleep well because of the reassuring sounds of those roosters. When have you last slept with the call of rooster’s heralding a new day, she asked somewhat haughtily or even testily? Yes, but we expected peace and quiet, the husband said. I had to inhale in order not to suggest to them to sleep at the airport’s hotel with the sound proved double glazed windows. Each to their own, especially roosters that enjoy a nice crow. I wondered how their journey was going?
Well, sorry, but there are roosters everywhere, Helvi said. The couple walked off. Odd, that people go to an oasis and paradise of an unequalled cultural paradise of serenity and calmness when the one thing that Bali has; ‘roosters that crow’ is seen as a blight on a holiday.
Some years before we drove with a few friends to the country, just to go and look at a gallery that we had heard about. There are so often baffling things that you find out when travelling with companions. Nothing brings out the strength of a relationship than travelling together.
One of our travellers, a man in his late fifties asked if we could stop at the next KFC fast food outlet. Why, are you hungry? Yes, a little bit, but I really like their ‘Batman Box’, he stated. This friend was totally normal, an accountant and well travelled. Not to be seen as totally dominating our dietary habits, we thought of complying and when the KFC Colonel hairy countenance appeared on the horizon’s highway, we stopped. The man could not stop enthusing about this bloody Batman Box, the perfect advertisement for KFC.
I especially love the gravy, he added. The ‘Batman box’came with little toys which are now collected by avid Batman fans…
And, so it goes!