Take Me To Paradise
Published by Saritaksu Editions 2006.
Launched at Ubud Writers Festival 2006.
Marilyn wakes up one morning and instead of catching the bus to work, catches the ‘I don’t like Mondays’ flight to Bali. But is she too late to indulge her paradise dream? How many western women have arrived before her and fallen headlong for the lush green island, its exotic culture, and their attractive driver?
Through the airport doors, out into the warm air bath, where palm fronds dance in the hot jet fuel breeze, they wait for me:
Nyoman, Made, Ketut, Wayan, Kadek, Dewa, Ida Bagus, Kadek, Nyoman, Agung, Putu, Wayan, Gusti, Ketut, Made, Wayan, Ketut, Nengah, Gede, Agus, Komang, Ketut…
Leaning over barricades, signs dangling from long slim fingers, smiles wide and full of waiting, only I am not the one they are waiting for.
I am not Jane Griggson, not Bill Friend and family, nor The Olaff Group, not Kyoko Ryoshi, not Gunther Rolandson, not the St Marks College group or the South Coast Retirees Football Team. I have no booking, no safe transfer to a comfortable hotel with blue pools that go on forever with bikini girls on white banana lounges and pink cocktail umbrellas that never see rain. No hotel boy is picking me up, no driver in ceremonial sarong and headdress to make me feel like Anna in ‘The King and I’.
Their smiles are so welcoming and I read the names on their signs as if it could be me, as if I want it to be me, just to see their smile, just to catch a moment of, “Is it you? Could it be you? Are you the one I am waiting for?”
But I can’t prolong the pretending and as soon as I shake my head and pass, they return their eager smiles to their waiting pose.
I think it must be obvious that this is my first time, so I try to adopt a confident air and pretend to be looking for someone. A special friend perhaps, with his driver - they must be late. I make some business with my watch and mobile phone, texting my imaginary friend to come and rescue me as soon as possible; looking out into the distance as if doing so will conjure them up.
Past the inner rim of waiting drivers, other handsome brown skinned men lean or squat, backs against pillars, lazy with the heat, smoking kretek cigarettes, laughing, joking, waiting as if it is their art.
‘Taxi, transport, transport, taxi‘, they call as I push my way through the pack.
I find a spot away from the crush, to gather my thoughts and make my plan, then I sit down on my suitcase and wait, like everyone else.
(C) Jan Cornall 2006
(C) Jan Cornall 2006