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Mind-reading, teleporting pembantus

October 11, 2009

Having a pembantu to help with the household chores is wonderful. Not only does the villa stay spotless, but clothes are miraculously washed and folded, dirty dishes never accumulate and the plants are watered without my lifting a finger. This greatly appeals to my inner sloth, which is gradually losing all capacity (and desire) to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of running a household. I am drifting inexorably into a state of unreconstructed male laziness whose responsibilities lie solely in ensuring that the household never runs short of the four major food groups –  alcohol, chocolate, nicotine and carbonated mixers.

But I am starting to get uneasy. I have noticed that good villa staff have a number of attributes that go way beyond standard housekeeping skills. Some of these border on the paranormal – a twilight zone which my skeptical mind has always dismissed as New Age gobbledegook. They know things, and they can do things, and I don’t know how they know and do things – and that is scary.

Some time back, there I was, staying at a friend’s villa in Canggu. Lovely place – airy, spacious, beautiful garden, beachfront pool – and staff straight from heaven. It’s mid-morning and unlike the previous two mornings when I had indulged in a coffee at that time, I felt a sudden urge for a bowl of cut fruit. Now, those who know me know that I never eat fruit at that time of morning. Nevertheless, despite not even turning my head, much less uttering a request, within five seconds of my thought a previously invisible staff member materialised at my side  – with a bowl of fruit. Wow!

Later in the afternoon – normally my Bintang time – I felt an uncharacteristic desire for an icy-cold mixed fruit juice. No sooner had I visualised the creamy pink goodness in its tall glass, with drops of condensation beading the surface, (yum!) than it instantly appeared in front of me. Wow again! How do they do that?

Even if they read minds – an impressive enough feat in itself – they still wouldn’t have enough time to receive my mental signals and act on them. I think they actually see into the future. I’m going to start asking them for help with my choice of investment stocks. I’m convinced that they will do better than me …

But these paranormal feats pale into insignificance with what my pembantu here at the villa can do. She doesn’t read minds, but I think she can dematerialise. She can pass through walls with ease, and at times she can make herself vanish completely, usually when I’m looking for her. I have sat at my computer and watched her enter the kitchen door to my right. The kitchen only has one door. My peripheral vision is reasonably good. She does not come out of the kitchen. I am alert and sober. So I go into the kitchen to ask about the state of the gas bottles – and she is not there! It’s a hot day, so I even look in the fridge … but no, nobody there. I wander outside and there she is, watering the garden, with a Gioconda smile that says: “You have no idea how I did that, do you?” No, I don’t.

Or I come home on the motorbike to see her up on the upper floor terrace, hanging up clothes. I wave, she waves back, I walk across to the downstairs open lounge, keeping her in plain sight upstairs, and sit down. This takes all of three seconds. Defying all established rules of physics, she comes out of the kitchen next to the lounge!  The kitchen has no access to the upper floor where she is (was?) and is so far away from the only stairs that she would have had to have reached Mach 2 to get there. There was no supersonic boom, not even a glimpse of her passage from one place to another. I’m telling you, the woman teleports. I’m going to find out how she does that and get NASA, or at least the Letterman show, to hire us both. I mean, she’ll need a good agent…

I really need to find out how this stuff works. It’s all around us in Bali – you walk into the first market stall in a street somewhere, looking for purple monogrammed beer coasters with the initials VK, and by the time you get 50 metres down the street they’re all leaping out at you waving exactly that item. Telepathy, I reckon. Or maybe its tri hita karana – that Balinese belief in the connectedness of God, nature and humans that gives people here abilities that we can only dream of with our Western sensibilities.

Add that to the ever-growing list of things I don’t know. But I’d still like to find out how they do it.

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