Saturday, October 20, 2018

The so-called Talk

I gave that talk at SMKn3 yesterday which was not a talk but meeting here and there with students and faculty and chatting for a couple of hours. Met at the hotel the hospitality high school runs - hospitality is an enormous amount of Bali's cash flow. I prepared for it like I was going to give a two hour talk to an entire auditorium full of students - spent three days cramming, talking  for hours with drivers I know to get the right words down, writing out pages of sentences and vocabulary.
In the teacher's lounge, the one who invited me,  Gede Denny, got out a guitar and played San Francisco (If you come to SF be sure to wear flowers in your hair, Though it's not a favorite song of mine, I thought he did an awfully good job. We talked about a bunch of stuff including Hinduism and Buddhism some and, as usual here, it was easy to get beyond the irritating literal level and leave unexamined beliefs behind.

I talked for a long time with five kids in their last year of school - two guys and two gals who seemed pretty alert, and another guy who seemed dull and lacking in confidence. I said everything in English then Indonesian and Gede Denny quickly filled in the latter for any word I didn't know. A girl wanted to have a large clothing store. The next one wanted to make traditional clothes for dances and ceremonies. One guy wanted a restaurant with Balinese dishes and the other a hotel. With each one I rapped off what came into my head. One thing I said was that people here are naturally polite, patient, and relaxed so that's an excellent head start in dealing with the public. Where locals frequently fall short is in paying attention so we talked about that.

The fifth guy I had a hard time getting to say what he planned to go into. Undecided" That's fine but not that either. Finally he muttered, maybe ashamed, that he wanted to be a mechanic. I thought about how competitive the fields the others wanted to get into were and how there's too much of everything here so that the place is full of stores, hotels, restaurants with employees standing around waiting for customers, constant closings and openings, empty buildings with for lease signs or no sign. I recalled all the times I've seen being a mechanic make someone welcome when otherwise there was no time or room for anyone else. I thought about the glut of vehicles here. Suddenly the dull one seemed - maybe not the smartest but the wisest. 

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