Balmy October in Bali. Rice paddies, lotus ponds, brilliant flowers, smiling people. Add to this mix the company of Writers from near and far, talks by such luminaries as Robert Dessaix, and workshops including one from Josephine Wilson, the winner of this year’s Miles Franklin Award, and you have the perfect recipe for body and mind bliss.
I’ve wanted to go to this Festival for years, in fact each time I’ve been in Darwin which is just across the water from Bali. But the timing was never quite right. This year, with the collusion of my two daughters, I bit the bullet, so to speak, and booked our flights six months ahead. Which was just as well; in spite of the imminent eruption of volcano, we book nerds descended on Bali in sweaty droves. Luckily Mt Warung didn’t belch it’s lava while we were in Ubud, and as far as I know, it still hasn’t. Here’s a picture of the volcano behaving itself at sunset:
Robert Dessaix’s session on his new book ‘The Pleasures of Leisure’, was a highlight. His dry wit, a la Oscar Wilde, had the audience rapt. Some gems which have stayed with me: Idling is an art in itself, not to be confused with time-wasting. Far from feeling guilty for doing nothing, to be idle is a perfectly legitimate pastime. And never say you’re Busy as an excuse when asked to a boring event (busy-ness is a mark of failure, an inability to be free). Far better to simply say you simply don’t want to attend ( Politely, of course).
For me, the greatest pleasure of the Festival was the company of my daughters. Feisty, funny, fabulous, and unashamedly hedonistic, they were the perfect antidote to their mother’s somewhat dour outlook on life. My daughters and I managed to work towards perfection in our Idling practice. Robert Dessaix would be proud! We three had sundowners on the terrace of our beautiful cottage, surrounded by lush green rice fields and exotic statues, and each night planned our next adventure. There were shopping sprees, yoga Bali style, massages, and delicious food.
Catching up with Marieke Hardy at her ‘Women of Letters’ session was another highlight. We’d last met at the Darwin Writers’ Festival five years ago, when I was a volunteer, helping to set up an earlier version of Women of Letters. ‘Let’s do this again in another five years!’ Marieke said.