Out of the many friends we made in our 3 week summer theatre module in Bali, one of them was Sutarma or Sut, an amazing and well-known puppeteer. He invited us to take a dance class in his village temple and then to his home for dinner. This was our first real taste of Balinese hospitality and what a wonderful example to begin with.
(At this point it feels a bit unfair not to mention Made, our professor’s friend who rented his car out to us. When we went to pick up the car from his house, he could have just handed the keys to us, but instead he and his really welcoming family served us tea and warm peanut filled buns; and then helped us get the car out on to the main street so we could get out safely. He was so nice to us, that even a commercial exchange like renting a car became a wonderful experience. That’s Bali for you).
It couldn’t get any better…
Coming back to Sut, our friend of less than a week, but yet here he was welcoming the whole lot of us into his amazing familial house (a big home owned by Sut’s father where 13 members of the family live). A traditional home cooked meal in a traditional Balinese home! It couldn’t get any better.
Sut and his family took great care of us, answering our several questions about Balinese traditions and customs very patiently. He told us how all homes in Bali were made according to their auspicious directions, kind of like Balinese Feng Shui. The head, which is considered the supreme in Bali, always faces the north or the east. The family shrine is always in the north. We also got to see Sut’s studio where he practices his puppetry. My favourite was the “Honeymoon Room”, a room with just one door and no windows. In the olden days when arranged marriages were still prevalent in Bali, the newly weds would be locked in the room for a week and not allowed to get out (whatever they wanted would be sent in). Nowadays the room’s used only as a tradition on the wedding night and for a new mother, the first night after she has given birth.
…we were ready for dinner!
Anyway after the host of information we were ready for dinner! Sambal (fresh chili paste- the BEST thing in Balinese cuisine), various types of pork, Bakso (Soup with meatballs), shredded chicken, fresh vegetables and black rice pudding and fruits for dessert all equalled to perfection!
The weather was great: cool winds and a slight drizzle along with wonderful company made the dinner at Sut’s home one of my favourite and most memorable nights in Bali.