Bali fields

Bali fields

January 2014, Singapore

As I was sipping my coffee in an air-conditioned hotel in Singapore, my thoughts wondered back to the sweltry roads of Bali, where I’d discovered (and come to appreciate) a more natural way of living, despite its mismatch with any of my usual expectations regarding social norms, personal hygiene, road traffic, or health and safety. A way of living that was less comfortable, possibly more risky (for my standards), but definitely more fulfilling. One’s rapports with the land, the sea, the Gods and the departed were all key aspects of that way of living, all intertwined in a genuinely organic way.

Over there, religion and the economy, for instance, are two facets of the same set of beliefs, which is directly translated into norms and action at every level of life. A family would bring offerings to the temple both for their own health and happiness and for their source of income (be that a shop, a rice field, or any other job). They would have a dedicated space in their home temple for the soul of their parents, as well as a special ceremony for any new endeavour. They have special gods for every aspect of life, and distinct ways of talking to each of them – because they are as moody and alive as humans. Mother land is one such god, and the Balinese wouldn’t dream of upsetting her in any way.

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Stakeholder engagement in Lovina

Stakeholder engagement in Lovina

Turn of the year 2013/2014, Bali

New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration at our villa in North Bali for more reasons than one. It is when the winners of staff annual awards are announced. They are selected through a rigorous evaluation process, based – as the manager explains – on a range of factors, from skills and attendance to less obvious ones such as attitude and reliability. For example – he tells us – P, who has just won the best employee award, never called himself sick last year; “if he was unwell, he would still come to work, deal with any urgent matters, and then be excused. Very reliable – that’s what we need.” That was true, we knew it from our own experience, as P was the one who’d helped us through our booking process, with great friendliness and efficiency.

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