In Bali, Indonesia…

There she stood. Waiting… Wondering… Perhaps slightly bored and lost in a day dream… There they came. Sweaty. Stereotypical. Huge cameras and eyes glazed over in amazement at what she found the norm. They appear to reject every offer as they meandered through the maze of vendors…. until they noticed her place. Their sights were set on coconuts. One in particular wanted ‘ripe’ ones. “The fruit is firmer” he argued.

The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (9)

She had the best ones on offer. They arrived at hers. She welcomed them. And so began the dance. That old timeless dance of haggling. Up and Down. High and Low. They met in middle. And then her skill truly began. Plucking, pulling, manoeuvring around the thick fleshy fibre of the coconut. They watched in wonder. Even their cameras clicked open and closed in amazement.

The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (8)The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (7)

One of them, in awe of the sight exclaimed that he had done the same “in Africa” and was adept at it, knowing full well that he could perhaps not do the same thing as this as skilled and effortlessly as this woman. He liked to think so regardless. And suddenly, almost out of the blue, there she was – liquid refreshments abundant.

The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (4)The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (6)The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (5)

They drank… and drank… and drank… and drank even more till they were sated. He, who knew he wasn’t as good as her gave a little token to say ‘thank you’. She smiled. Pleased and perhaps a little surprised at the gesture. After drinking, she proceeded to get them beyond the point of liquid refreshment, onto more solid satiation. Food! Fibrous, smilky coconut fruit. “Mmmmm!” They though in excited anticipation. This was after all the point of the “ripe coconut”.

She doled out the fibrous fruit. Each piece carefully extracted. Almost with precise yet effortless care. Again, they stared in wonder. All the while pretending they were used to this. All the while in awe.

The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (3)The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (2)

She washed and carefully packed everything. They said thank you and he gave her back all the “spoils” from their intricate dance earlier on. She smiled. A huge unguarded and appreciative smile. She was genuinely surprised again. They smiled even larger. Inside and outside.

For her, this was an everyday process, perhaps with the slightest element of surprise. For them, this was everything. Every memory. Every step. Every sight. Every sound… in this place, could be surmised in this moment. Forget the amazing memories of volcanoes seen. The reverent images of temples burnished in their minds. The excrement coffee they drank with exhilarated delight. This moment, with this woman and this coconut was perhaps defining moment of their time spent with the people in the place.

The Woman and The Coconut in Goa Gajah Temple, Bali, Indonesia (1)


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