On the Old Bali trail
There are many places on this small Island where life is simple, meaning that less really is more. Where not much dictates making use of everything. Where being creative and inventive in the face of scarcity simply means survival.
These are villages where birth life and death follow an accepted cycle, where daily rhythms remain unchanged and where seasonal adaptation is approached and faced as an opportunity for planting sowing and reaping.
They are locations that still attempt to follow generational family and cultural traditions while dealing with encroaching modernity and an avalanche of convenience wrapped in tons of plastic.
Banjar’s where each family cohabits with on average 3-5 dogs, mostly the islands first original dog, but with a growing number of foreign breed dogs. Where most dogs still roam free, free from confinement and wanton intimidation. Where the condition of humans and dogs mirror each other. Where nature sorts weak from strong, letting the outcome be what is, dictated by balance and natural selection.
These are areas not that far in distance from the climatic and consumerism hot zones of down South, but they are light years away from the bloated lifestyles associated with wealth and want. These areas located North, West and East probably number in the thousands with probably tens of thousands of mainly lokal dogs.
‘Old Bali’ still exists. Locations where life is certainly not perfect not affluent or generally healthy. Where for now they possess an uncomplicated simplicity representing how it was.
Pressure on these places will of course continue to grow, progress dictated by human desire. But for now, away from a future inevitability, dogs’ people and community continue to need and tolerate each other’s shortcomings.
For now, as old traditions battle new temptations and where human desire greed and want are breaking through, the only thing keeping it all at bay, checked and tenuously balanced is a greater need to maintain a cultural philosophy. By actioning what has been handed down through endless generations these faraway communities are holding on to what old Bali once was. What still resonates in the memory of so many.
Indigenous societies are evaporating rapidly worldwide, Balinese culture is nowhere near immune, no matter how strong it appears.
Balinese dogs are a simple part in the complexity of Balinese existence. They fit in the puzzle of daily life and their place physically and emotionally in the picture is best observed in places where ‘old Bali’ still is.
In places where simplicity just is.
Where just is, is everything.
Put more than one species in a space close enough for contact and the propensity for war is most certainly more likely than not. Put in species of different origin and the likelihood for animosity escalates exponentially.
Humans are from species same but when you examine us closely our sameness from a cultural viewpoint difference places us at a high level of conflict. It puts harmony at risk and our inability to see through other eyes continues to endanger us and everything else.
Setting up ‘home’ with Bali dogs and with Bali people in a traditional village is complete and utter insanity, of course. The propensity for conflict as species and cultural difference(s) meet and converge, intersect and inevitably diverge, is at a premium explosive level, of course.
A lot of deep breathing and a load of compromise can get things started. Having Bali dogs in common can help yet can also be an immovable barrier and a powder keg emotional argument starter. Foreigner culture is stereotypically regarded as being loud and emotional, prone to losing face. Balinese behaviour regarded as reserved and reluctant to show extremes of emotion, all about face.
So, it all begins with the walk. Walking with Bali dogs is a unique experience, semi feral free roaming dogs don’t generally take to collar and leash attachment and being led, anywhere. Add humans from vastly different cultures and you have a recipe for disaster, humour and/or success, dependent on physical and emotional handling.
Dogs are very talented at bringing humans together and as crazy as it sounds Bali dogs can be the cultural bridge that invites different cultures to meet in the middle and embrace each other’s weird ways.
After a few years, which of course in dog time is dog only knows how long, things just lead on from where they originally began. Dogs have a gift to offer us about the simplicity of isness, about just being. About just here and now.
Allowing one thing to simply lead to another in the weird Bali dog world enables the human actors to learn something invaluable about getting on and along with each and all else.
It’s the human world that’s weird. Its a world where we tend to make everything more difficult than it needs to be or is.
In the Bali dog world when you allow one thing to lead to another and another, present time and simple now is really all there is.
Getting on and along, is simply all that matters.
It just is.