Diane’s story “No Penis Gourds Here,” was just published in the anthology, Wandering in Bali, (Wanderland Writers). Available at Book Passages.
Actually I’d come to Indonesia in search of the penis gourd people on Papua New Guinea and the matrilineal Minangkabau on Western Sumatra. But through various quirks–the Balinese would call karma— I found myself on Bali.
My own connections to Indonesia go back more than forty years when I was living in Holland, married to a Dutch medical student who had spent his early years on the then-Dutch colony of Indonesia with his parents and older brother. I heard tales of their beautiful lives there. Beautiful, that is, until WW II broke out and they were interned in Japanese concentration camps–his mother with the two boys, his father in a separate camp. His older brother died in the camp and when the war was over, they all returned to the Netherlands. During my own years living in Holland, my connections to Indonesia included friendships with some Indonesians who left Indonesia after the war, my former mother-in-law’s memories, and dinners of nasi goreng and rijsttafel at local restaurants. One day, I thought, Indonesia would be a place I wanted to explore for myself.
Today, the war is mainly a distant memory. Indonesia and its 17,000 island archipelago gained its independence from The Netherlands in 1949. Bali, although one of the smallest islands, is the best known to foreigners and hosts a booming tourist trade. The Balinese have a love-hate view of the bestselling memoir, Eat Pray Love, that has even further inflated this boom. Australians chug-a-lugging their way through their holidays, Americans seeking bargains to rival Cost Plus and gurus to predict their futures, Bali “cowboys” serving single women on the beaches of Kuta’s resorts are stereotyped images I held of Bali. Since normally in my travels, I seek out the lesser trod paths, Bali was never high on my to-do travel list. So when I ended up here between visits to two other lesser-known islands, I approached my visit with skepticism….
Available at Book Passages.