...the wizdom of the elders
I just heard that Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem are in Ubud, Bali, making a screen adaptation of the best-selling, quasi self-help book Eat, Pray, Love. It reminded me a trip I made to Ubud a few years ago as a side to a friend's wedding on the south coast at Uluwatu. One of the party (who will be known as Silly) at the time had Eat, Pray, Love a the top of her list of such books, which she consumes with disconcerting zeal.
So of course she had to track down the real-life medicine man, 95 year old Ketut Liyer, the oracle of wisdom that features in the book. After paying a small Indonesian fortune for 30 minutes of wisdom, Silly (and some friendly witnesses) began her session. After a while of speaking in riddles, Ketut's eyes widened as he said "P!". "P?" Silly responded and Ketut replied "P!". "P, P, P" Silly pondered out loud. "P. Could it mean my boyfriend, Paul? P, P, P? Maybe it's a reference to my job at Pearsons? P! Wow. It sounds so profound and important, what could it mean?" "Pee!" Ketut replied. "Excuse me, I must go and pee".
After more mind-blowing inanity (from all witness accounts) the group departed, and were handed a business card by Ketut. It read...
Spirtual Healer. Fortune Teller. Taxi Service
So after ripping off gullible western women, for an extra US$20 he will drive you back to your hotel too. What service!
It makes me think about the myth of elderly wisdom in general. Just because someone has been around a long time doesn't mean they are oozing with profound, almost magical knowledge and infinite wisdom. My bro-in-law and I once were about to embark on a 3-day trek in the highlands of Papua. On the second morning of the trip we asked the elderly 'chief' of the village what things we may need to bring on the rest of our trip, considering the mountainous terrain we would encounter and the people we would meet. After a long pause and plenty of chin scratching, he slowly turned and said, "I think..... it would be best for you....... if you should bring...... an umbrella." We didn't have the heart to tell him hat trekkers holding umbrellas look like complete douchebags, even if you do have porters to carry your load. The following morning at another village we asked the chief the same question. "I think..... it would be best for you.... if you should bring....... lots of cigarettes. You can trade them for anything you know". We did know that, and it's true. Forget carrying food and water. A carton of Lucky Strikes can see you through anything in some parts of the world.