A Flower and Two Smiles

UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA – Life in Ubud was easy. I would wake in the late morning and take my notebook out to the table on my balcony, where I would write as I waited for Ketut to come up and inquire about what I wanted for breakfast. A hot thermos of tea was always kept filled on the table, with a sugar dish next to it that seemed to be constantly crawling with bugs. I skipped the sugar, but made my way through the tea. Most mornings, I would request their banana pancakes and a fruit plate, consisting of the most delicious tropical fruit I had ever tasted.

On this day, I had spent a few hours after breakfast wandering off of the main streets in the town, seeking some sort of Balinese rural experience. As mine fell apart, I stopped in a small shop on the side of the road to buy new sandals. I took very few pictures, too busy observing, and wandered into places I probably shouldn’t have. I didn’t find any of the terraced rice paddies I had hoped might appear in front of me. When it started to rain, I turned back.

Once back in Ubud, I headed straight for my favorite hangout in the city: Kafe. I had a late lunch, partaking in things such as nachos and pie – types of food that were completely foreign (and entirely a treat) to me after years living in China. I wrote through a downpour, waiting for the rain to stop before I would head home. The café played American classics; it was full of people of every age, from all around the world; it gained a stray dog that wouldn’t leave and napped on the floor.

I walked back in the late afternoon, the skies still overcast, everything damp. When I reached Jalan Bisma, I noticed a Balinese man strolling along ahead of me. He did not seem to be in a hurry. He was playing with something in his hands – which, when he turned, I saw was a single pink flower. He had stopped in front of something, and I watched him as he smiled and placed the flower on it before turning again to continue his slow stroll down the road. When I reached the thing that had caught his attention, I had to smile as well – and snap this picture.

A Flower and Two Smiles


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