Monday, Jan. 24
“You know Eat, Pray, Love?”
Matt and I nodded frantically, trying to break through the language barrier.
We were sitting cross-legged on a woven mat, facing an elderly Balinese man. He was petite, soft spoken and had a head of wispy grey hair. If he wasn’t laughing, he was smiling.
“… Few years ago, Elizabeth Gilbert give this to me.”
He was holding a worn-out beige book with a burgundy spine.
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was inscribed in gold on the front, while ‘Elizabeth Gilbert’ was printed down the side.
“… I not read because not very good English … but my name in here many times.”
He fanned to a random page and pointed to a passage with one of his long fingernails.
We nodded again.
He flipped to the front of the book and showed us a hand written message.
To Ketut Liyer,
My teacher and friend.
Yes – that’s right.
Matt and I visited the actual Balinese medicine man made famous by Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, Eat, Pray, Love.
Ketut’s compound was full of palm trees, colourful flowers and exotic birds.
When we arrived, he was sitting on the balcony of his red and brown house, speaking with two middle-aged women.
According to our driver, we chose a good day to visit. Usually there’s a huge crowd of people, but today it was silent.
The only other person in the compound was a lady selling pop and bananas, stationed beside a couple of movie posters for Eat, Pray, Love.
Finally, it was our turn.
Ketut welcomed us with a smile and a nod before taking one of Matt’s hands into his own.
While we could see Ketut’s smile from the other side of the compound, up close we saw how the wrinkles on his face deepened, the pea-sized mole on his nose moved and his two teeth stuck out with every grin.
He was wearing a brown and red flowered sarong, a white soccer jersey and a checkered head wrap.
“I look at your ears. Left and right, and you’re very handsommm,” he said to Matt, hanging on to the last syllable.
“Your lips – sweet like sugaaar.”
“Your cheek – right and left – you very handsommm”
“Right eye, left eye – very good. Warm eyes. Happy.
“Blue eyes – very smaaaart.”
He gently put his hand on Matt’s leg. He told him not to grow his beard too long because it wasn’t his “cup of tea,” and advised him to trim his mustache. (Of course, he said this with a smile and a laugh.)
“You very handsomm. You like king.”
“…Because, my English – my English not so good.”
Matt discovered that he’s going to live to be 101, he’ll be successful in many jobs (publicity, clothing, computing, beauty salon), and that he will be rich.
(“But don’t forget me – OK?” he said, laughing again.)
Ketut highlighted Matt’s impatience, but added than when there is a good way and a bad way, Matt will always follow the good way.
He predicted that Matt will get married at 24 or 25 years old – “but 24 is better” – and that he will only marry once, never divorcing.
He said Matt will be a good partner and that we will have three babies.
Ketut looked over at me and back to Matt.
“You two are good match. You don’t lose girlfriend. You get married until end of life. Don’t lose feeling.
“If you lose the girl, you lose yourself – you lose the boy.”
Ketut changed gears, assessing Matt’s kidney, gallbladder and blood, all of which are strong.
He took a quick break to see his granddaughter off to school and to grab a sippy-cup of water.
After letting out a little burp, he continued reading Matt’s palm.
I think he forgot where he left off because he kept talking about our relationship, saying things like “good match,” “married until the end,” and “If you lose girlfriend, than you will be broken in life.”
With his hand, Ketut drew a line down Matt’s left arm, following a vein to his wrist.
“You can wake up at night and make sex two time. Not three time, too tired.
He was panting and laughing as he explained.
Then Matt turned around so Ketut could read his back. There, Ketut saw Lotus flowers, which he said are very lucky.
As Ketut examined Matt’s legs, he warned him not to drive too fast and mentioned something about a car accident.
And then it was my turn.
Ketut told me many of the same things: I have happy eyes, my lips are “sweet like sugaaar,” I am pretty like a queen, I will live to be 100 and I will be successful and rich.
I will have “success and harmony,” and much luck according to the Moon flowers on my back.
Ketut emphasized that Matt and I are a good match, we will marry soon and never divorce.
“Without each other, you will be broken,” he repeated.
He added that we will have two babies. (He turned to Matt and apologized for predicting three.)
Like Matt, I have no arthritis in my knees and I have good blood. And I always choose the good way when faced with a tough decision.
And that was it.
The old man was still smiling and holding my hand in his when he asked us about Canada.
We explained what snow is – something most Indonesians will never see – and talked about igloos.
He continued to laugh as we turned around to leave.
We quickly noticed how full the garden was.
A handful of middle-aged women had made the same journey as us to hear their destiny.
And then we realized why Ketut was constantly smiling and laughing: Elizabeth Gilbert has turned this Balinese healer one incredibly rich man.