Saturday, July 18

all or nothing

that seems to be how food gardens grow here. Either you're subsistence farming or you buy from the market. In our travels i have seen nothing that looks like a home patch of any kind, but that could be due to lack of recognition of edible foodstuffs than the truth... It makes sense i suppose. A province with a small middle class, labour and food are are both cheap and many are subsistence farming. Where we are staying was once covered in rice paddies, now the villas are crowding out the paddys and only a few remain. Its a strange dichotomy; just a few streets back from the high end of Balinese fashion and the latest in architectural finishes, adult rice plants sit in handkerchief sized fields ready to be threshed, leathered old men walk around in sarongs with sickles in hand and woven conical hats. Papaya, banana and mangoes grow everywhere, so street grazing is very very doable. Its all juxtaposed with trendy glass and stone buildings...rice farming in Seminyak will probably be a thing of the past in five years time.

Like everywhere with tourists and the temptations of modern living, there is plastic rubbish everywhere. There are garbage trucks (guys sitting in the back of a big pick up collecting rubbish from big woven baskets on the side of the road) but not enough and Im not sure if they dump it in a designated out of town landfill or just down a back street somewhere! Our back laneway looks like a tip! But it does support a pack of local dogs, a whole scurry of squirrels and a herd of cattle who graze the laneway and whats left of a unused rice paddy every morning. The bean loves to watch them from his his vantage point of the upstairs balcony and listen to their cow bells going 'donk donk' and mooing, His imitation 'mooooo' has definitely improved in two weeks!

OK. I just asked about the rubbish. It costs to have it picked up, user pays no compulsory rates/taxes to pay for garbage collection. Only main street business get rubbish taken away by 'council'. Suburban dwellers have to pay. So if you want your rubbish taken you pay 100,00 rupiah (average monthly income is 700,000) sooo, if you don't have the money you take your rubbish and chuck it! Hence the piles in the back lanes which are full of non recyclables. I have come across many guys carrying wicker baskets on either end of a bamboo pole which is carried across one shoulder sorting through these piles- there are the plastic bottle guys, the cardboard guys and the cans and glass guys, so some of it does make it to second use. One use for all the plastic bags that i have seen in use everywhere is to tie them every metre or so on the lines which crisscross over the rice paddies, acting as flags blowing in the breeze to deter the birds. But there is a long way to go.


emmani said...

Sounds just like India Kel...looks like it too!

It used to infuriate me how everything was so dirty. In fact it's very much the same really, the baskets, the men in the truck, the rag pickers.

Then I began to realise it was just my western conditioning of where rubbish was supposed to be clean and not seen. It kind of reminds me of how we deal with funerals, like you said. We don't want to see the dirty work, not on our doorstep.

So I began to "see" what really happened. The cows come along to the back streets at lunch and feed on the scraps, then the rag pickers in their grimy, pretty dresses and huge white grins, scavenge for the plastic and cardboard. Quite eco really, like compost and recycle bins! I realise these peoples lives depend on it too. (You must have seen Slumdog?)

So as much as it's not very nice to look at, it's just the way it's done, all over the world. Just not in our world. People look down on rubbish collectors even here in the UK, it's a last resort job. But we should be proud that other people are doing it for us really.

And a similar story with the vegetables too. In the west we buy from big supermarkets, GM etc. In India I buy from the same stall, he always gives a juicy fig or a handful of grapes to Angel and we take away 2 bags of goodies for less than the price of 2 punnets of tesco strawberries. I can't grow the variety he gives me and I'm supporting his local business. Even if he doesn't grow it himself, I know it's been grown in India at least and not mass produced in Spain.

Hope you're settled back into home and you've got the fire lit, I've enjoyed your holiday blogging x

Kel said...

Em - what great musings.thanks. Thats what i love about underdeveloped nations - great access to the fundamentals of living. Fire on and just getting warm again. Glad you enjoyed the few posts i managed wile away. we had a fantastic time.