Today I introduced a Western evil to the civilised land of Bali. I feel like a Spaniard bringing smallpox to the New World.
Except I brought Road Rage and not a disease that will decimate the population. Unless of course everyone starts driving each other off the roads and into the drainage ditches – which because no one wears helmets would probably result in a higher mortality rate than even smallpox.
Now there are now two new evils in town. Starbucks and road rage. And I’m rightfully ashamed of myself for introducing the latter.
You see the Balinese don’t honk their horns in aggression. They don’t swear or gesticulate or yell at other cars or bikes. They honk only as a warning.
Arguably, by honking my horn repeatedly I was warning the moron in front that I was prepared to rear end him if he didn’t put his car in gear, stop curb crawling along the main road and step on it.
What would one more dent in our bodywork matter after all? Our car already looks like it was shaped by satan’s hammer in the forges of hell.
When the idiot driving the car in front figured that I meant business he pulled over and I glared at him as I passed. ‘Yeah, dude, learn to drive,’ I yelled in his open window.
And only then did I remember I was no longer driving the streets of south London. I contemplated my karma as I looked in my rearview mirror. And then I noticed the sign on his car – Sang Spa.
Exactly the place I was headed to. How’s that for Karma working quickly? (by the way don’t tell John I went there. I figure if I want to spend the entire amount of my latest advance on massages and chocolate then I should be allowed to but he might disagree and put Lula’s school fees and food on the table ahead of my addictions.)
It’s ok, I thought, I’ll just head there the back way and maybe the man in the car won’t be there.
But guess what? He’s there outside the spa. Parked up outside. He sees me driving towards him and I know he’s clocked me. I’m wearing very distinctive sunglasses. Also there aren’t that many Western women driving jeeps in Ubud. He stands in the road and it’s like that scene in Dirty Harry. He just glowers at me.
I put my foot down and drive on past pretending not to notice.
I do a 2km loop and come back, figuring he’ll have moved on by then. You have to understand although there are approximately 342,873 spas in Ubud alone, each offering massage, this spa is the only spa I want to go to. I am not prepared to compromise. Luckily the man in the car has disappeared. I pull into a parking space.
A man appears in my rear mirror.
He’s wearing a sarong and a headscarf, but give a man a uniform, even if the uniform is a skirt, and something happens to him. He becomes a slave to his ego. In this case the man is a parking attendant.
‘Oh for fuck’s sake,’ I murmur.
He blows his whistle. They always blow their whistles. Then he starts circling his arms turning an imaginary steering wheel.
‘Yeah, thanks, I know which way to bloody turn the wheel,’ I say, ‘unlike every Balinese driver, I actually learnt to drive and took a test.’
He circles back the other way to show me how to straighten up.
Is he joking?
‘Are you joking?’ I shout. (He can’t hear me over the 747 engine noises that our car emits). ‘I know how to park!’
I hear John laughing in my head. Then I hear my dad and my brother join in.
I get hold of myself. A few deep breaths. I open my door and he is there – the man in the sarong – holding out his hand for the parking fee and it takes every bit of calm and control in my body to stop from pulling his head off his body and using it to play bowls with the scooters coming at me on the wrong side of the road going the wrong way down a one way street.
Not even a one hour massage could abate the rage.