Remember that book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia? You know, it’s the one that every woman-of-a-certain-age on the train/ferry/plane/beach was reading until Fifty Shades of Grey came out and every woman-of-a-certain-age on the train/ferry/plane/beach started reading that instead. I never read it myself, but I am lead to believe (by Oprah) that it is the true memoirs of Elizabeth Gilbert, an American divorcee who went to a bunch of countries beginning with ‘I’ to find herself because apparently she was lost. The book was also adapted into a film starring Julia Roberts, but I haven’t seen that either. I know, I’ve let myself down, I’ve let Elizabeth Gilbert down, I’ve let countries beginning with ‘I’ down. Sorry everyone.
Anyway, the reason I am writing about this book I have never read that was made into a film I have never seen is because I have recently returned from a trip to Bali, a province of Indonesia, one of the countries Elizabeth Gilbert visited during her international game of one woman hide and seek.
During my time in Bali I noticed several things – most of them involving Bintang singlets and braided hair – but one of the standouts was how many times a day I heard the words “eat”, “pray” and “love” uttered in quick succession, usually in reference to the utterer’s reason for visiting the beautiful island province. It seems just as Fifty Shades of Grey has inspired thousands – perhaps millions –to throw on some leather and release their inner dominatrix, Eat, Pray, Love has inspired thousands of women to throw on some sandals and release their inner hippie. Everywhere I went I heard “I came here because of Eat, Pray, Love”; or, “Reading Eat, Pray, Love changed my life”; or, “You absolutely must go and see the healer from Eat, Pray, Love”. It was like visiting the alternate dimension from Being John Malkovich except that, instead of Malkovich’s head, all I could see were copies of the international bestseller.
From what I understand about Eat, Pray, Love – geez, I really should have read it before writing this, huh? – it is divided into three sections, each one recounting her time in a different country, and defined by one of the three titular words. In “Eat” she describes her gluttonous (or should that be glutinous?) time in Italy; In “Pray” she tells of her travels through spiritual candyland India; and in “Love” she reveals how she finally found herself, and also how she nabbed Javier Bardem. Well, that’s who played him in the movie anyway. The book has been lauded and slammed, praised and panned, called both “poetry” and “priv-lit”, but I am not here to weigh in on its merits or lack thereof (I’d have to read it to do that).
What I am here to write about is what I learned about myself while on my own trip to Bali, which to be honest was very little. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED Bali and will return to the island paradise as soon as I can to sup on its delicious foods and swim in its delightful waters. I just didn’t get in touch with my self – or anyone else unfortunately - while I was there. What I did learn verges on trivial at best, and is explained in the ten points below. And so I present to you Eat, Golf, Condescend: One Woman’s Search for Nothing in Particular Across Bali and Only Bali.
#1 If I drag myself out of bed before 6am to do a one hour Sunrise Yoga class, I expect to do a one hour Sunrise Yoga class. I also expect to be applauded for dragging myself out of bed before 6am. What I don’t expect is to do two salutes to the sun and a couple of warrior poses and then spend 45 minutes listening to a jaded hippy talk about how Bali “isn’t what it used to be, man”. Apparently I expect too much.
#2 I really like Indonesian food.
#3 No matter how pretty an international male model may be, if he has his own name tattooed on his arm and says things like “Waves are like windows into the soul of the sea”, my loins will immediately close for business and I will hide from him until I am shown proof he has left the island.
#4 In the face of imminent danger (i.e. a large, drunk stranger stumbling into my bungalow at 3am, presumably to rob and/or hurt me) my gut survival instinct is evidently to loudly say "EXCUSE ME?" in a manner that is as condescending as it is accusatory.
FYI said large, drunk stranger was actually just lost and no robbing or hurting occurred after all.
#5 My hair and Bali do not get along.
#6 I love pigs. I really love pigs. I didn’t know I loved pigs but then I met some pigs on a bike ride through the outskirts of Ubud and I fell in love with them and I haven’t been able to eat pork since. My Rabbi will be so pleased.
#7 I am entirely unable to grasp the concept of “too many omelettes”.
#8 I apparently have very strong opinions about the Dutch occupation of Indonesia. Who knew?
#9 Group tours are my own personal hell.
#10 I am awesome at golf. Sure, I only had one lesson and the instructor is probably paid to tell every foreigner who takes a golf lesson that s/he is the next Tiger Woods (in a golf way), but I’m pretty sure with me he meant it.