A week or two ago I interviewed a woman who runs a small warung just a short 30 second walk down the road from where I live. Her name is Made Sriasih and she is one of the kindest Indonesian women I have met during my time here in Nyuh Kuning.
I wanted to interview her because I am interested in how villages work in regards to ceremonies and leaders. When I asked my partner Kadek about interviewing her he said that it would be a good idea because I could learn a lot from her since she is the wife of the leader here in Nyuh Kuning.
I was so excited! Here I had been talking to this woman for over a month – getting juice from her everyday, waving and speaking random bits of Indonesian to make her laugh and I had absolutely no idea she helps run this village.
So five minutes later Kadek and I walked down the road and asked if I could interview her. She said yes but that my partner Kadek would have to translate because her english is not that great.
I went back the next day for two hours sitting on the porch of her warung as women from the village came and went grabbing items for offerings or various fruit/veg. In between her servicing the people of her village we were able to speak about everything from the responsibilities she has to the hospital that offers FREE healthcare to all people in Nyuh Kuning Village!
Made moved to Nyuh Kuning in 1993 when she married her husband. She has two children and married to the leader of Nyuh Kuning. I asked how long her husband has been leader of the village and she said three years. The leader is voted in by the people of the village every five years, which is how long leaders typically serve. Her husband was voted into this position because he was previously an accountant for over ten years and the people believed that he would be a good fit because of his history in accounting.
You cannot become leader of any village if you are not originally from the village. The leader position is important because they decide on everything from paving roads to ceremony agendas. When asked if she helps decide on any of these things her response was “Yes. My husband comes to me with anything that is brought up amongst the people in this village and we decide together on what the best thing to do would be.”
Kadek describes the leader and his wife as a “Power couple” and they certainly seem to be the more I watch the daily interactions of the people here.
I asked Made if the leader position could be passed down to her children and she said no. The leader can only get voted in, it never gets passed on. She laughed and said neither of her children had interest in being leader anyways.
Her children are fourteen and twenty three. She told me that things are much different now a days than they were when she was a child. Apparently it’s common for the younger generations to want all the newest smart phone and tech. However, when she was a child many children felt bad for their parents because making money was much harder. Kids were mostly outside or helping their parents with various work back then but according to Made now children know that tourism has brought new opportunity for people to make money and they are more likely to always want “more, more and more”.
Made said that Bali used to be all rice fields. Now most of the rice fields are actually gone, only a few remain. The rice fields have been replaced by villas and restaurants for tourists. There is less traditional architecture and more modern westernized structures, even in traditional balinese family houses you will see two story buildings which is not normal. Most family houses are an open concept with single rooms spread throughout the family lot.
When asked how she felt about the tourism here she said that she is happy about it. Her village is now famous and she likes meeting new people from around the world. She has two guest rooms in her family house that are usually full and it helps her improve her english. It has also increased financial security for her family and provided new business opportunities for them. Because of this she was able to open her warung right outside her family house which is now very successful after only being open for a few months.
It is here at this warung where I first met Made. Her warung is a huge deal here I believe for a few reasons, one of which is that is helps her maintain a strong presence amongst the villagers and has offered a new space for community. I see women hanging out at her warung everyday, stopping by to chat while picking up food for their family. There are a few tourists that stop by her warung for juice and fruit but mostly she services locals. When asked what inspired her to open up the warung she responded that it is her hobby. She likes to sell things and interact with her community in a different way!
She is very involved here and it makes me happy to see how much people look to her for everything from food to advice on family/village matters.
Community is very important here in Nyuh Kuning and everyone knows everyone which is one of the reasons I like living here!
I asked her if there was anything else she liked about the tourism and she said she was happy that it brought the woman from California here who founded the local hospital right down the road. This hospital opened up many jobs for the villagers and also provides free healthcare to every local who lives in Nyuh Kuning.
I was blown away when I heard this. Free healthcare is so important in any society and especially here because locals do not make very much money.
Interviewing Made was such a lovely and insightful experience. I was glad to have the opportunity to sit down with her, talk about Nyuh Kuning and get to know her a little bit more!
I asked her why she let me interview her and she said because I was nice and she likes when I come buy juice. She even told Kadek that she gives me the local price on juice because she thinks I am “good people”. This warmed my heart so much and when I left we exchanged hugs and I told her I would probably see her later that day!
(Yummy avocado juice)
I have had such an awesome time getting to know the people here.
I will be doing another interview on a woman who has built her own restaurant down the road that serves the most delicious food at the best prices!
Stay tuned for more local interviews to come!