“Why, oh why, do these awful things always happen to me?”
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2008
Janet De Neefe from Australia fell in love with Bali twenty years ago and settled permanently, opening local restaurants. After the Bali bombings in 2002, she felt that the world had abandoned Bali and she was compelled to do something to put Bali back on the map. She created the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival from scratch, turning it into one of the world’s leading literary festivals. I met her in Sydney in May and gave her a copy of Unimagined. She kindly invited me to UWRF 2008.
Friday 10 October
I arrive at Heathrow at 8 pm to check-in for the overnight Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore, on my way to Bali.
When it’s my turn, I approach the distinguished middle-aged Sikh gentleman behind the counter (would have preferred one of the sexier younger women, but my technique should work, regardless), establish eye contact, smile, place passport gently on counter and engage most pleasant persona.
I tell him that I’m going to Bali, for the Writers’ Festival.
Ergo, I must be a writer.
Ergo, he must upgrade me.
(I don’t actually say those two derivative statements out loud, as they are obvious.)
He taps away for a while (it takes a few steps to upgrade someone), then tells me there is a problem with my ticket and I have to go outside to the ticket desk to get it re-issued.
This is my first time both on an Airbus A380 and on Singapore Airlines. I walk through Business Class on my way to Economy – at least I’m upstairs on this double-decker bus. The Business Class seats are so wide, it’s ridiculous. They would take two average Europeans, three average Indians, or one-and-a-half average Americans. (Before you protest, I said average, and besides, you know what I mean, and this supposed to be humour through exaggeration or irony.)
My neighbour is an Australian man who is extremely friendly, engaging and pleasant. He’s an environmental engineer with Siemens, and has just had a lovely holiday in Europe. Since he’s not a vivacious woman, my default persona has engaged automatically – the one where I just want to be left alone. But he does give me his prawn appetiser, so I can’t be too unfriendly. (I hope you enjoy my book, mate.)
The service and attitude in Singapore Airlines are amongst the best I have ever encountered and the food is excellent as well.
This is a long night in the quiet, darkened cabin, and for some reason I can’t sleep. I remember that my new agent at Curtis Brown lists ‘Californication’ as one of her favourite television programmes, so I watch three episodes of this decadent, immoral programme on the on-demand entertainment system. Now I feel a bit restless and randy. The lavatories are quite spacious and high tech. Oh, but they probably have detectors against all prohibited activities. Anyway, looking around, the only person I’ve established a ‘relationship’ with is the Australian man, and he’s sound asleep.
How can I be thinking like this? This programme ‘Californication’ is indeed corrupting and morally bankrupt. Unfortunately, only three episodes are available to view.
Saturday 11 October
Pass though Singapore airport, check e-mail on free terminals, take aisle seat on two-hour flight to Bali. Another lovely dinner. This was a very short day.
Arrive Bali 9:30 pm. It’s hot!
I am met by a facilitator from the hotel, who takes me to my car and driver. For the first night only, my hotel is the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay, which is a short drive away. After the most welcoming check-in process imaginable (sofa, wet towel, cool drink), I am taken to my private villa in a buggy and move in at around 11 pm.
There’s an envelope addressed to me, containing a handwritten card:
Dear Mr Ahmad,
Welcome to the Four Seasons!
Have a lovely stay.
Best regards, John.
John O’Sullivan – General Manager.
Looking around my villa, I find serious issues to bring to Mr O'Sullivan’s attention:
- No lifeguard on duty at the pool.
- The roof seems to be in need of urgent repair, as huge parts of it are open to the sky.
- Water and flower petals have been left in the bath – presumably by the previous resident. Why hasn’t this been cleaned up?
Huge holes in roof
Water left in bath
However, a delightful ‘snack’ meal has been left for me (including smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels), and I eat this at the table under the stars. Cool off in the pool.
Sunday 12 October
It’s the early hours when I decide to sleep outside on the private terrace, enjoying the warm breeze, the sound of the sea, the view of the moon and stars. ‘Underneath the mango tree’ keeps playing in my head. Wake up before sunrise and plunge into the pool (after visiting the bathroom).
Order a buggy to take me to the restaurant for a wonderful and colourful breakfast. Go for a walk around the resort, try snorkelling down at the beach, but the water is a bit rough and murky today, so snorkel in my own pool. The water is calm and crystal clear – much better.
After 13 hours in this extraordinary and perfect place, I have to check-out. I will be spending two days at a Writers’ Retreat in Candi Dasa, on the east coast of Bali, before the Festival begins.
At Reception at noon, by prior arrangement, I meet up with famous American writer John Berendt, who also stayed here last night. A car from the Alila Manggis hotel takes us there – about a 90 minute drive.
On the way, I impress John Berendt by asking him intelligent questions about his book, ‘Gardening After Midnight Is Evil’. (I haven’t actually read it, so I’m winging it a bit.)
After the Four Seasons, the Alila Manggis seems a somewhat ordinary resort hotel, but it’s very nice nonetheless. As we check-in, I give John Berendt a signed copy of my book.
I spend the afternoon by the pool, reading the Festival brochure and learning the bios of my fellow writers (especially the attractive ones).
Catriona Mitchell, the Festival Program Director, arrives and has tea with me by the pool. Sigh. I pull my stomach in as far as I can, but I don’t think it will be enough. I can’t breathe.
In the evening, the writers in this hotel gather and we have dinner in the open air, near the water, prepared by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Penny Williams. It’s quite a mixed bunch (all foreigners, except me): John Berendt (now living in a lovely New York townhouse, thanks to the movie of his book); Chiew-Siah Tei (whom I met at the Edinburgh Book Festival this summer); Faith Adiele (Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun); Muniam Alfaker (Iraqi poet who had to flee in 1979 after writing some less-than-complimentary stuff about Saddam Hussein’s government – I could have told him that wasn’t a good idea); Shalini Gidoomal (director of the Kwani Literature Festival in Kenya – ‘Red Alert, Red Alert, Literary Festival Director Detected, Literary Festival Director Detected, Maximise Charm, Maximise Charm’); Catriona Mitchell (how can I eat with my stomach pulled in so hard?).
Monday 13 October
Most of the other writers signed up for a half-day Balinese cooking class with Penny Williams, but that sounded too much like work to me. After breakfast, I find this elevated outdoor sitting room in the hotel grounds, overlooking the sea, and I spend most of the day here with my feet up and my head back on a cushion – listening to an audio book which Milton has sent me (transferred to my iPod): Swann in Love, by Marcel Proust. It’s the best book I’ve ever slept.
Catriona texts me that some of the writers are joining a Hindu procession later on, so that’s where I head in the afternoon. It is necessary to wear a sarong, apparently, so I choose the most dignified, masculine one that I can.
Shalini Gidoomal, Chiew-Siah Tei, Muniam Alfaker, Imran Ahmad (the easiest name of the lot)
We are driven to the nearby town by a hotel car, then set off on foot, our sarongs allowing us to blend in perfectly with the locals. The procession involves the climbing of a very steep hill, in the oppressive heat, to the temple at the top – where the many food offerings will be made. Roast suckling pig is definitely the most popular of these (with vegetables stuffed in the mouth, and rice in the rear end). There are literally thousands of people surging up the hill.
Don't give me that dirty look -- I don't even eat pork
The finish line! What's my time?
I am the only one of the writers to make it to the top, but later I promise the others that I will produce a photograph which shows that we all made it. On the way up, I step on my sarong, making a spectacle of myself as I try to shove it back into the sash-belt-thing. On the way down – hurrying to make the rendezvous – I slip on the sandy ground, momentarily suspended whilst leaning backwards, arms flailing. I grab and push against whatever I can reach to stop myself falling over backwards. This happens to be the backside of a young teenage boy. I let out a stream of ‘Sorry’s and hurry away from the scene.
Dinner this evening is at Candi Beach Cottages nearby, where we meet even more writers who have been participating in this Retreat: Jean Bennett (New Zealand children’s writer); Lijia Zhang (Chinese journalist whose writing career was delayed for ten years by her being forced to work in a factory making intercontinental ballistic missiles aimed at the West – we should detain her for questioning about the design); Zuleikha Abu-Risha (Arab poet and female rights activist – she must be kept busy); Tee O’Neill (Australian playwright extraordinaire). All foreigners – no-one else British.
Tuesday 14 October
I have signed-up for snorkelling this morning. Lijia Zhang and I are taken on a motorised canoe with a honeymooning Belgian couple (‘Nous sommes écrivains’ I tell them) to a nearby lagoon, where we swim for an hour. I have to work hard not to drown, but Lijia Zhang – being a trained Chinese agent, like the one in Tomorrow Never Dies – has no problem at all.
On the way back, our guide gives us each a bottle of water to drink. It’s hot and I’m dehydrated, so I drink the lot, and so does Lijia Zhang. This is a mistake. Looking carefully up and down the canoe, I can see no signs indicating the direction of the men’s room. The closest such facility whose location I know precisely is in my hotel room. Seldom has time passed so slowly. The sea conspires against us, throwing the boat back and forth, up and down, as it struggles to make land. Men from the hotel wade out and try to pull it onto the beach. Lijia Zhang and I both seem extremely anxious to get ashore. We jump out, yell ‘thank you’ and ‘good bye’ abruptly, and run for our respective rooms. My room key, which I had completely forgotten about, is still in the Velcro-sealed pocket of my swimming trunks. Thank God.
There’s an e-mail waiting for me from the Perth Writers Festival. They would like me to participate in Feb 2009. Hmm, let me think about this … well, okay …
At noon, we all meet in the lobby to check-out and be transported to Ubud for the Festival. Catriona has arranged for John Berendt, Lijia Zhang, Faith Adiele and me to be in the same car, as we four are in the same hotel. (Apparently, dozens of hotels have been arranged for this Festival.)
The drive to Ubud is about 90 minutes and we have plenty of time to talk. John Berendt has been reading my book and says some nice things about it. He gives me a great quote:
‘This [Unimagined] could have been really successful in the US if it had been launched properly.’
The journey takes us through the beautiful Balinese countryside, past many temples and markets, and the extraordinary Balinese people who seem to be so much at peace – always smiling and looking content. I reflect how wonderful, peaceful and spiritual this place is. It helps me to dissolve my Ego-self, to release my material attachments and selfish wants and preoccupation with social status, and to feel truly content in my Oneness with my fellow Humanity, with Nature, and with God. Tri Hita Karana, as they say (‘God, Humanity, Nature’).
Check-in at the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan is like checking into Heaven/Paradise. They seat us in a row at what looks like a bar, and for each of us a dedicated member of staff welcomes his guest with a wet towel and cool drink, before taking him/her through the check-in paperwork.
I hear the voices around me.
‘Mr Berendt, I’ll show you to your villa.’
This is surreal.
‘Ms Zhang, I’ll show you to your villa.’
The anticipation is delightful.
‘Mr Ahmad, I’ll show you to your room.’
Why don’t you just shoot me right here? How come I get a room and they get a villa? Who’s even read John Berendt’s book, ‘Delight in a Garden of Wood and Weevils' ? I haven’t. Lijia Zhang’s from communist China. They don’t approve of villas. She built missiles to destroy our decadent Western villas. Did Faith Adiele get a villa? She’s supposed to be a Buddhist monk, for Chrissakes. She doesn’t need a villa – they reject material attachment to worldly things. Why didn’t I get a villa? I’m an honest materialist. Why, oh why, do these awful things always happen to me?
I am taken to my ‘room’ in a buggy. It turns out to be a two-storey townhouse, with a private patio on the ground level, and a private terrace upstairs. The patio leads to the ground floor accommodation – which is the bedroom and massive bath-and-dressing room, and an open wooden staircase leads to the tasteful and serene living area upstairs (with guest bathroom), which also has its own entrance door leading directly into the main hotel complex.
My sullenness seems a bit shameful.
But I can’t help wondering what a villa would be like.
After unpacking and showering and changing, I put on my traditional ‘Happy Man’ t-shirt and wander into the Reception area, where John Berendt is having a drink. He graciously invites me to join him, buys me a drink and patiently answers my questions about his villa (bastard). He says he’s waiting to be interviewed by a journalist, who’s running a bit late. She arrives and I introduce myself, giving her my Unimagined business card and telling her about my book. John Berendt waits patiently.
Later the journalist, Miranti Hirschmann, calls me in my room and fixes up an interview with me for the next morning. Bingo!
SPECTRE's secret underground headquarters ... or the corridor outside my room ...?
At 8 pm we have the Writers and Media Cocktail Party, which conveniently for me is in my hotel. I go up to the main complex’s top level – the wooden deck surrounded by a tranquil pool. Writers and media people begin to assemble, chat and have drinks on the deck.
I spot Camilla Gibb in the crowd. She’s the author of Sweetness in the Belly, which I read a few weeks ago (it's an absolutely brilliant piece of literature), I’ve exchanged e-mail with her, and I think she’s one of the most talented (and attractive) writers in the programme. I start to edge towards Camilla. I’m not sure if she’s seen me. She seems to take a step backwards and inexplicably vanishes.
Dinner tonight is at the nearby Mansion hotel. We are taken there in cars and I am delighted to meet Elizabeth Henzell – Janet De Neefe’s PA. She tells me the story behind my invitation.
‘Janet came back from Sydney and handed me your book, saying, “Tell me what you think of this – I don’t have time to read it.” I started to read it and was laughing out loud. She asked “What’s that like?” and I replied “It’s wonderful” and she took it from me and I never saw it again.’
I stay quite late at the Mansion and decide to walk back to the Four Seasons – a distance of perhaps three hundred metres. Some of the famous Bali street dogs get wind of my presence (perhaps they’ve read my book) and line up along my route, barking ferociously in greeting. ‘Remember Tri Hita Karana,’ I keep saying to them.
Wednesday 15 October
I receive an e-mail in the morning:
Bridging the West and Muslim World through Literature
Ambassador of Canada H.E. John T. Holmes, Mizan Publishing, and Ms. Camilla Gibb, the author of Sweetness in the Belly request the honor of your presence at the launch of the Indonesian version of the work, Lilly, published by Mizan.
Thursday, 16th October, 5.00 – 6.30 pm
Mizan sounds like the right Indonesian publisher for Unimagined. I’ll go along to Camilla’s launch and give them a copy.
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
9 am interview with Miranti Hirschmann of Deutsche Welle – the tape recording takes place in the living room of my townhouse.
Relax in my townhouse, entertain a couple of fellow writers, and go for walk in the hot sun of the afternoon.
The hotel has an excellent gymnasium. It's very reassuring to know that it's here, in case I need it ....
Take car with John Berendt and two others to Ubud Palace, for the 4:30 pm Gala Opening.
The Governor of Bali strikes the gong, whilst Janet De Neefe and local dignatories applaud.
Photo: The Bali Times.
Watch amazing Balinese dance story. Sit with Sadanand Dhume (who introduced me to Janet De Neefe in Sydney – thanks mate!) and Chris Wood, Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Literary Review.
Chris says to me: ‘You know, the Director of the Byron Bay Writers Festival is here. I’m sure she’ll seek you out to invite you to her Festival. You should go – it’s really good.’
I get a chance to meet Janet De Neefe and thank her for inviting me. (Until now, she’s been at press conferences in Jakarta, promoting the Festival.)
An incredibly vivacious blonde North American woman starts chatting with me. She turns out to be Carol Bujeau – the wife of the Canadian ambassador to Indonesia. She introduces me to her husband, His Excellency Ambassador John T Holmes, and I thank him for the invitation to Camilla’s book launch.
After the grand ceremonies are over, a short, somewhat timid Indian man comes up to Chris and me as we step out of the Palace, and asks us what the next event is.
I reply: ‘Well, if you’re with the Festival, there’s dinner at Casa Luna.’
‘Are you with the Festival?’ he asks.
‘Yes, I’m Imran Ahmad, a [famous implied] writer, and Chris Wood here is the Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Literary Review. And what’s your name?’
‘Oh, I’m Vikram,’ he replies and wanders off.
Dinner is at Casa Luna, one of Janet’s delightful restaurants and the unofficial home base of the Festival guests and staff.
Casa Luna - I love this place
Carly Nugent (front), Catriona Mitchell, Tee O'Neill. (If only I was three-to-five years younger.)
Thursday 16 October
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
The Festival opens this morning, with Janet giving the opening address in the Indus lounge.
Photos: Olin Monteiro
It’s followed by a panel discussion in which I am a participant – ‘Globalisation and the Collision of Cultures: When Britney Meets Bin Laden.’
Beautiful and vivacious journalist Katie Hamann is the moderator; she introduces us (and gives Unimagined a wonderful plug), and then she lets me speak first, as I have some opening remarks to make.
‘I’d like to begin my thanking some of our sponsors … KPMG … I used to work for them, they paid me a decent wage, so thank you for that … Casa Luna … thank you for a lovely dinner last night … Four Seasons Resorts … thank you for the room … I wouldn’t mind an upgrade … HSBC … the world’s local bank … please let me keep my house …'
'I have to confess, I had no idea what this session was about … I didn’t read the information properly … I thought I was on a panel with Britney and Bin Laden … ‘
After this, the audience is suitably warmed up and the session goes very well. No need to thank me, fellow panellists …
At lunchtime, I’m wandering between the venues, when Tee O’Neill grabs me and says, ‘You have to meet these people in the food court! They’re an Indonesian publisher called Mizan and they will love your book.’
Mizan? Mizan ... Mizan ...
The three Mizan people are extremely nice and don’t mind a bit that I give them a sales pitch over their lunch. I tell them that I was planning to give them a copy of my book at Camilla Gibbs’ launch party tonight. (I don’t have a copy right now – I have to go to an ATM and then buy one from the Festival bookshop.)
'It's a great book, I tell you.'
Photo: Andityas Praba
In the afternoon, I walk down to the exclusive Como Shambhala estate – the venue for Camilla’s book launch. It’s an extremely dignified affair, with excellent canapés and drinks.
Camilla Gibb's book launch
Photo: Andityas Praba
A lively woman comes up to me, asks me if I am Imran Ahmad, and introduces herself as Jeni Caffin. ‘I’m the Director of the Byron Bay Writers Festival.’
‘Yes, yes, YES! I’d be delighted.’ I must be her easiest acceptance ever.
The Canadian Ambassador, His Excellency John T Holmes, tells me he’s been reading Unimagined and absolutely loving it. Later, just when I’m wondering what to do for the rest of the evening, Johnny invites me back to his villa for dinner and gives me a ride there with his family and Camilla.
Friday 17 October
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
I spend the day at various sessions. This is the magic ‘in between’ time of literary festivals, when you just relax and enjoy the sessions – after the joyful opening ceremonies and before the tearful farewells. There’s a sofa at the back of Indus lounge which is my favourite place to sit. The discussions are busy, engaging and stimulating, with excellent audience participation.
HSBC lounge - between sessions
'Hey, that's my sofa!'
Food for mind and body
This evening there are a number of separate dinners, hosted by notable residents of the Ubud area. I am amongst a small group invited to the home of Ronald Stones OBE. The architecture of his villa is so stunning and original, I’m not even going to try to describe it. Ronald Stones began his career as a primary school teacher in the North of England in the early seventies, but then took a series of educational positions around the world – culminating in being Principal of various international schools. He is currently building a school in Singapore from ground-up. If only he had stuck with his job in England, he could have had a nice terraced house in Lancaster now and be receiving the government heating allowance. Any regrets, Ron?
After dinner, it’s too early to retire, so I text Catriona to find out where the action is and receive the reply that it’s the Mexican Festival at Casa Luna. I tell the driver my destination.
'I heard her say that book is rubbish.'
Saturday 18 October
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
Today is my really important day. It’s my dedicated Unimagined session at the Three Monkeys restaurant. My book club hosts collect me by car from the Four Seasons. They are extremely kind and gracious about Unimagined. My facilitator is Kerry Pendergrast, whom I can only describe as a grown-up, responsible hippie.
The Three Monkeys is a delightful restaurant and the owner (and book club member), Denise Abe, is utterly charming. This is a ticketed event and it’s sold-out. Unfortunately, people are being turned away at the door (which I feel terrible about).
The event goes well, no-one asks me where the other two monkeys are, and we drift towards noon in conversation. There’s a chap from Mizan in the audience, shrewdly watching the proceedings.
Free cake always makes me smile
Photo: Nick Bale
An English woman comes up to me and says, ‘I think everyone in the UK should be required to read Unimagined.’
I reply, ‘I think it would allow us to have an informed discussion, instead of the hysterical ones we keep having – always defined by the extremes.’ (And everyone should buy their own copies, instead of sharing them.)
With Carol Bujeau - an amazingly charming person
In the evening it’s the Street Party and I have some entertaining to do. I meet my team in Casa Luna, then we head for the designated street.
Up-and-coming Australian playwright Carly Nugent excites my audience with an introduction, telling them three interesting facts about me:
- ‘He’s a qualified accountant.’
- ‘He’s in upper-middle-management.’
- ‘He drives a Honda.’
Carly Nugent warms up the crowd
Suitably impressed, the audience gives me a warm reception.
After the Street Party, the night is still young, so back at Casa Luna I apply the dancing instruction which is narrated in Unimagined. ‘Apparently, in the music there is a rhythm, and you just have to tune your body into this rhythm, and shake your arms and legs accordingly.’ I'm sure that all the ladies are suitably impressed. (I write books too.)
It’s so late when I emerge, there are no cars in the street, offering transport. The Casa Luna security guard offers me a lift to the Four Seasons on his motorbike, for a fee. One of those Bali street dogs must be a real athlete – I hear him barking on my heels for ages.
Sunday 19 October
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
Bittersweet mood, it’s the last day of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2008.
I attend sessions, sitting mostly on my favourite sofa at the back of Indus lounge.
'I'm not budging from my sofa.'
Katie Harran interviews me in the media centre, making a tape for editing and regional broadcast.
'I said "off the record" '
With Sadanand Dhume
Photo: Jen Richardson
Back at the Four Seasons, I run into John Berendt in the gift shop.
- He lets me see his villa.
- He lets me take his photograph (just once).
- He gives me a signed copy of his book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
I think there’s an implication that I am never to trouble him again. It’s a deal – like when am I ever going to see him again?
Patient and dignified John Berendt (smiling about his villa)
I tour his villa, and suddenly I realise the truth – I prefer my townhouse, with its indoor sitting area and its direct access to the main complex. The townhouse was much better for my personal needs and disposition. Why couldn’t I have known this sooner? Then I would have been so happy. Why, oh why …?
In the evening, I catch the end of a poetry session at Casa Luna, by a softly spoken Irishman called John O’Sullivan. That name seems familiar somehow (Irish names are not unusual, but I feel I heard this one very recently). He’s a charming man, and gives me a signed copy of his book, ‘Odd Poems and Slogans’.
I have dinner with some of the crowd, and then we head to the closing night party, in the grounds of the Antonio Blanco Renaissance Museum.
Who's driving the car?
Kerry Pendergrast’s husband and I hug each other as the band plays Imagine. I’ve become a hippie too.
Monday 20 October
I awake very early – time is precious.
Breakfast in the Four Seasons restaurant.
I always sat here for breakfast
Hotel car to Casa Luna.
Jean Bennett, Martin Jankowski ('Yan, not Jan'), Edwina Blush
Hilary Bonney, Sharon Bakar, Shelley Kenigsberg, Caroline Brothers
With Shelley Kenigsberg
Photo: Sharon Bakar
'Where are we off to now?'
Meet other writers and get transported to John Hardy’s Design Studio for final writers’ lunch. Standing outside at the long tables, I drink coconut milk and eat the delicious spring rolls and cassava chips dipped in exquisite sauces, until I’m quite full. Then someone says ‘Lunch is now served’ and we are directed inside an enormous bamboo structure in which the most sumptuous feast I have yet seen in Bali is laid out for us. I barely touch it.
The final lunch
Janet De Neefe is chatting about the planning process. “You know, I invited [famous writer] and I didn’t get a reply.”
Didn't get a reply? I don't believe it!
(NB: If you are a writer – it doesn’t matter how famous – and you get an invitation to Ubud, and you don’t even bother to reply, then you are an idiot. This has been the most wonderful experience of my writing career. This is a very special literary festival and it is a privilege to be invited.)
"I recommended 'The White Tiger' to [famous publisher] and he said he didn't really care for it - can you believe it?"
Say goodbye to wonderful writers and friends. Catch a ride back to Four Seasons.
I don’t want to leave Bali. I want to live here forever. Magic and synchronicity are in the air here – they’ve become a normal part of my daily life. If I never check out of the Four Seasons, then they would never ask me for payment, right? If I drop into Casa Luna every evening, then I would still be given food and drink for free, right? Sigh.
I'm going to wear this forever
Finish packing. Check out. The Four Seasons staff are so genuinely wonderful and friendly – they are not faking it.
Hotel car to airport. Four Seasons facilitator helps me through the entire airport process. Take two hour flight to Singapore and hurry aboard Airbus A380 to London.
Tuesday 21 October
In morning, read John O’Sullivan’s magic book, ‘Odd Poems and Slogans’.
Arrive 6:30 am at Heathrow. Take a bus home around 7:30 am, so it begins to fill with commuters. I don’t remember England being this cold. Why does everyone look so unhappy? Not smiling, like the Balinese.
At home, I check e-mail. There’s one from Mizan – the Indonesian publisher. They want to publish Unimagined in Indonesian. Well, at least something good came out of this arduous trip.
Back to work.