Delicious Life!

The nickname game and my postcards from Bali

COFFEE is a Balinese thing, especially the ones that are from the civet cat, locally known as Kape Luwak (Alamid coffee in the Philippines). At the Merta Harum Luwak  Coffee in Ubud, one is ushered up a treehouse and given  a free tasting menu of 14 different kinds: (from left,  top row) mangosteen, rosella, ginseng, cinnamon,  saffron, ginger and lemon teas; (bottom row, from left) lemongrass tea, and coffee in chocolate, vanilla, ginseng, coconut, white chocolate and ginger flavors (CDN PHOTO/JUDE BACALSO).

COFFEE is a Balinese thing, especially the ones that are from the civet cat, locally known as Kape Luwak (Alamid coffee in the Philippines). At the Merta Harum Luwak
Coffee in Ubud, one is ushered up a treehouse and given
a free tasting menu of 14 different kinds: (from left,
top row) mangosteen, rosella, ginseng, cinnamon,
saffron, ginger and lemon teas; (bottom row, from left) lemongrass tea, and coffee in chocolate, vanilla, ginseng, coconut, white chocolate and ginger flavors (CDN PHOTO/JUDE BACALSO).

This is the story of an island where there are only eight first names, and everyone in the same family has a different last name.

Nyoman, our driver, is the third Nyoman we’ve met thus far, all of them behind the wheel of a car service in Bali. It seems a little confusing at first, prompting: “Are all drivers named
Nyoman?” No. “Is Nyoman a popular nickname, then?” Still a no.

You see, the Balinese name their children according to order of birth: the eldest may only be known as Wayan, Putu or Gede, regardless of gender; the second-born, Made or Kadek; Nyoman or Komang for the third-born; and Ketut for the fourth. And if there is a fifth or more children, the cycle goes back to the name of the firstborn down to the fourth.

Their last names, though, are infinite. Which also means every single one in the same family has a different one. “Mine is Japa, because I look Japanese,” Nyoman says. We assumed he was cracking a joke, it is difficult to decipher when a Balinese Hindu is leaning into humor, because they can be so stoic. Apparently he wasn’t. The Balinese wait at least three months before giving their children a last name, which may be reflective of the circumstances of their birth, what they look like (Made Apple, our barmaid, because she was born rotund and red), or a quality the parents wish their children would grow up to have (our cute roomboy, who came in once a day to sand-covered sheets and wet swimsuits strewn everywhere, was Ketut Dharma, a “good” name to have in his line of work).

To say the least, it is a fascinating culture that seems both familiar (I was born into a family of Ondos, Dodongs and
Indays…Basakanon nicknames according to order of birth my father adheres to tenaciously [guess what I am called?], where my two other siblings after Inday Faith are nicknamed Gogo (Keith’s first gurgled baby words) and Toto (because Seth was conceived in Sipalay, Negros Occidental, Hiligaynon country where toto is the equivalent of the Visayan dodong)…and
refreshingly different (they Hindu respect for the interconnectivity of all things, both inanimate and animate, and the laws of karma, make for a more polite and respectful society that honors nature, translating into a low crime rate).

Armed with my trusty travel-perfect camera, I snapped away
four days worth of this long weekend in the Island of the Gods.

Allow my postcards from Bali to tell the rest of her riveting stories.

(I flew to Bali on a Cebu Pacific Air connection from Manila that arrived at Bali’s Denpasar Airport at 8 a.m., and by 9:30 a.m., I was already swimming in the waters of Jimbaran’s beaches. All photos taken with a Fujifilm XT-10 with a 16mm prime lens. Most of the information I gathered are from an ingenious travel guidebook called My Life in Bali, which I picked up at the airport giftshop before flying home, written for children.)

TAGS: Bali, Balinese, Dodongs, Gede, Hiligaynon, Inday, Ketut, Komang, Nyoman, Nyoman in the Island, Ondos, Putu, Toto, Wayan
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