• The breeze of the ceiling fan at rooster crow awakening. Skin the thinnest of permeable layers melding into the morning air and a thickness to the moment that sings “Home.” This my life in India, Indonesia 33 years ago, renewed at various times in Costa Rica or Hawaii or Ghana or Bali, my tropical paradise not the air-conditioned room and fancy buffet with sculpted swimming pools at a resort, but awakening in a village alive with bird song and sounds of people working and some ancient deep participation in life as it is— raw and uncooked, but delicious. All the protective layers removed, all the mediated screens, electronic and otherwise gone, the medieval fortresses of the heavy protective ego vanquished by a single rooster crow and this body and mind a loose collection of sensation that is indistinguishable from the surrounding life.
• The rice fields of Bali, punctuated by bamboo wind chimes. Gamelan rehearsal at the banjar. Dogs barking as I pass by. 90 degree heat, skin soaked in sweat and the welcome cold shower awaiting.
• Effortlessly found the Post Office in Ubud and from there, a short hundred yards to Matahari where I stayed for 7 weeks in 1987. Thrilled that it was still there and felt a tingle of anticipation going down the familiar sloped driveway, turn to the right and… oops!! two big cranes, mounds of dirt and destruction (before construction) of what used to be there. Found someone who told me that it’s still open, but new rooms off to the left until something gets re-built. So a case of “You can go home again! Well, sort of.” Yes, disappointed not to see the little lawn where Kerala did cartwheels with the Balinese kids, our little room with the geckos on the ceiling and on the one-time scorpion in the bathroom, the room next door with the sink that our school head Terry broke when he put his foot in it, the open gazebo where we ate our meals.
But going home is not really a physical act, more of a state of mind. Sometimes triggered by an actual physical place, often brought to life by a smell or a song or a memory and often more realistically so.
As for Ubud, my first impression is that its gentrification and congestion isn’t quite as bad as I imagined. At least at first glance. I’ll keep you posted.