Saya lupa? I forget …

September 27, 2009

There’s something in the Bali water that makes you forget things. Or perhaps it’s in the air. Or it might be the tropical climate, or maybe the soporific sounds of the ever-present water fountains. Some have unkindly suggested that it is caused by too many Bintangs, or scotch and Cokes. For someone like me, who believes that denial is a river in Egypt, that last one doesn’t even bear consideration.

Here’s a typical event in my new life in Bali. Before arriving here, I had used Superglue  many hundreds of  times without a single accident. I was here for only three months before completely forgetting about the powerful skin-bonding properties of the stuff. If anyone has an urgent need to bond their fingers permanently to a pair of pliers, I can show them how to do it …

I forget that I already have things – usually cunningly secreted in various cupboards around the villa – and go out shopping in the heat for those same items. It’s not really a problem – every villa needs at least forty bottles of that liquid goop you put in those mosquito-killing vaporisers, right? Now I just have to remember not to forget to buy some actual vaporiser thingies to put them in.

It’s not just small items either. For two weeks I had been looking for a new couch, coffee table and footstool for my open lounge area. I knew exactly what I wanted (and could even see in my mind’s eye) the sizes, colours and styles of each item. Naturally, it being a holiday period, many furniture shops were closed. My obsessive searching came to naught. And then, when my frustration levels had reached their zenith, I had a revelation. Maybe it was something else; I can’t remember. The reason I could so clearly visualise the desired items was because they were already in my villa, unused, cluttering up various rooms. One would think that one would remember what furniture one actually has in the villa. One would be wrong.

I am beginning to believe that an island-wide amnesia affects the sense of time  here as well. I miss appointments because I forget what day it is. I suspect it’s exactly the same for the locals. The advantages of not having to suffer the “Thank God It’s Friday” syndrome in Bali is negated by the fact that every day here feels as if it’s Saturday. Couple this with the well-known jam karet – rubber time – philosophy here, and nothing gets done at the time you think it’s going to be done. When the pool man says that he’ll be here tomorrow at 2 o’clock, you can be sure he will arrive, smiling, sometime within the next fortnight. And at any time within 23 hours of the one agreed. Luckily, by the time he actually does appear, I am inordinately happy to see him because I have forgotten when he was supposed to come.

Sometimes a strange confluence of events, once described by @Ozdj as “Murphy’s Law meets Bali time”, occurs. At best, it’s irritating; at it’s worst, it makes you believe that a sort of bizarre karmic punishment is being exacted for some unknown transgression. For two weeks I have been waiting to get connected to the TV cable network here. All the promises of  ‘man will be there tomorrow’ never eventuated – I was left semi-patiently dangling with vague assurances of satisfaction, but zero action.

Then, on a recent Saturday in September (the one  that afficionados of Australian Rules football hold sacred) the much-awaited call came. “Your cable service will be installed today”. Great! Finally! I happily negotiated a suitable time for the job, making sure it would be after the AFL Grand Final that I was eagerly anticipating watching at a friend’s place. Of course, as soon as I was actually on my way, an excited call from my pembantu informed me that ‘the man’ was here already. What! Three hours early! I had to return home – bumbling and fizzing at the sheer unfairness of life, to supervise the installation. The man, of course, didn’t need supervision – he just wanted to make sure that I would actually be around to pay him. So I missed seeing the final, my team lost … and naturally it cost more than I was quoted. At least, I think it did. I forget what the original quote was after all this time.

So what causes all this? Is it the water, the air, the booze, or the climate in Bali that destroys memory? What is it that makes one forget appointments, bill payments, friends’ names and the the date and time of day? I was speaking to someone the other day (I forget who) and they said that in my case, it could be something else. I have a vague recollection that they said something about Al’s and Hymie’s something or other (whoever the hell Al and Hymie are) … but I really can’t remember.



  1. I always thought it was Old Timers disease!!
    Glad Im not old yet… ok… gotta go do …ummmm… what was it I had to do…???

  2. … !! It’s the air and the water and the climate I tell you! It’s not … umm … whatever you said

  3. haha, i doubt that indo water/air/climate causes jam karet, because a lot of indonesians still practice the ‘art’ of jam karet here in melbourne!!

  4. grand finals match was very intense! hope you get to see the reruns!

  5. I’m jealous. You’re where all of us who are still in the rat race want to be. Ahhhh… to be on the beach forgetting everything! I wouldn’t even mind gluing my fingers together. Hopefully, I’ll get to that state of mind in the near future.

    In the southern U.S. we call that SST (southern standard time). Never expect anyone to be on time. I enjoy reading about your adventures/mishaps/dilemmas.

  6. I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  7. I remember one of my first experiences of Bali and Indonesia was the hordes of young Indonesian lads strumming inexpertly on guitars, singing the first verse and chorus of a popular western song then trailing off as it became clear that the lyrics had been only partially learned.

    But they were trying, at least.

  8. hahaha….can’t stop giggle reading this post..Seems like you’re embracing well enough the art of living in Bali : everyday is Saturday, tomorrow he’ll be there, and the ‘jam karet’. I can tell you for sure, it’s the Bali sun that sucks up your energy, and memory…we all are suffering from that incurable disease 🙂

    • But it’s great – you can’t remember what you were supposed to remember to forget, so life just drifts on in a wonderful dream …

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