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On the thankfulness of not understanding

30 Jul

On Gili Air one of these bright clear days, I came upon a woman in her mid-fifties, wearing a green summer dress and a frown, who I could not be happier to not understand.

“So are you going to put the cushions back?” She had stopped in front of me.

“You are not allowed to move the cushions. There is a sign saying, you cannot move the cushions.”

I stared at her. It was true. We had taken more of our share of cushions though there were plenty more available on empty seats.

It was something in her tone that made me slow to respond. Or maybe the strong German accent that came with it.

“So?” she said. “Can we reclaim those cushions?”

“Can't you just take those?” I said. I looked at her to make her follow my stare to the empty beach hut in front with four large cushions.

“I don't want those. The servants sleep on them all day long.”

“But there is no one there now and we have been here for hours. Can't you just take those and if someone else comes, we'll give them the ones we have?”

“I don't want those” she replied, uttering each word slowly and separate from the next.

She proceeded to sigh.

“I don't want those“, she repeated, with one eyebrow raised, talking to me now in an even slower manner, as it would help me understand.

I didn't.

I did when she lowered her voice.

“I don't want those”, she hissed in a whisper. “The servants sleep on them all day long”.

I turned around and looked at my fiancé. But his dark sunglasses revealed nothing.

A moment passed. I gave her the cushion I had under my feet.

She smiled at me. “Thank you”, she said, as to a stubborn child who had finally come around.

I got up and got myself some servant cushions.


That same evening, we returned to the hotel late at night. There were no cushions in the small beach huts.

“Uhm”, I said, thinking not too much of it. “They must take them in every night.”

“So they all get mixed up then?”

I understood him. We laughed.


Gili palmtree and coral reef

21 Jul

We are on Gili Air in Indonesia and I don't have a care in the world. Time passes unnoticed, one day, five days, ten days and have we really been here already for more than two weeks?

There is an ocean that stretches out of sight. A cloudless sky. And twice daily the ice cream seller nips through the palm trees, accompanied by waves crushing on the sand and a small radio fastened to the top of his ice box. This is picture-book tropics.

There are no cars nor dogs on the island. A few horse-drawn charts make their daily rounds on the sandy tracks. Tourists pleased with life lean out to photograph the chickens who scramble across the road and the sunburned children who drift around like cheerful drunks in the waves.

After the morning swim, I read and read and read and it is time for snorkeling. I see no turtles, but I have already seen four and there is enough underwater wonders to keep me floating for a long time.

When the time comes, the sunset is bright pink and I watch it while I jog on the hard sand by the edge of the water. It is a starry night. After dinner we walk through the small village back to our bamboo hut and snuggle down with each our novel and all I can hear from outside are the waves and I have another attack of happiness and this is all to saccharin to share which is why I have not blogged from this island before, but there you go, I just did.