Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ubud - Balinese dancing and a midwives' clinic

The past 2 nights we spent in Ubud, "the cultural center" of Bali. It used to be a strong arts and market town, with local painting and traditional Balinese dance ceremonies. That attracted a strong expat community, and now the place is very commercialized and full of boutiques and stalls of people selling beautiful traditional batik-woven sarongs and cloths, wooden sculptures, and trinkets and chic Indonesian fashion.

We went to a Legong Dance at a temple last night that was incredible. The dances were shortened because they are so repetitive and long in real ceremonies for the Hindu gods or for traditional Balinese life. The girls were made up in ornate gold, dark green, and dark red costumes. They danced more with their eyes than their bodies, opening their eyes really wide and ominously moving them back and forth, and then relaxing their eyes. The women were bound up tight in their costumes so they couldn't move too much. They shook their hands really fast. I thought the dance seemed like a combination of indulgence and being morally alert.

This morning we walked through rice paddies and fields to a midwifery clinic called Yayasan Bumi Sehat (www.bumisehatbali.org). This place was started in 1994 by an American woman and has virtually ended infant and maternal deaths due to births on the island. While we were there there were 2 day old babies and their mothers doing reiki with some other people from he neighborhood. The place was very impressive - clean, orderly, humble and sweet. Another branch of the clinic moved to Aceh shortly after the tsunami and provided lots of relief there.

We've started playing rummy 500.

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