Local Family. Bali Indonesia 9

Meeting Kevien and his family. 

On my first morning in Ubud, I noticed a man sludging in the water and mud-covered rice field. He, being nearly knee-deep in the mud, I immediately thought, he does not need to use a stair climber in the gym. 

Kevien is a slim man with shoulder-length long hair, very typical of the local Indonesian population. But the work he puts in would rival a man three times his size. I ventured out to the rice field and eventually after he noticed me we began to chat. After the usual questions of where I am from and all, we talked a bit more about where he is from and the work he is doing.  

Kevien works in farming. He goes from one rice field to another and uses a machine to turn the mud and prep the rice paddies so the rice can be planted. Kevien has worked in farming for most of his life, it is a hard job but this is what he knows… 

I wanted to hear his story. 

I have a curiosity about people. Where they came from, where they are headed and how life is. I wanted to know his story and so I asked him if I could interview him. He gave me his number and I messaged him. Immediately I got a call from a rather confused woman. She was wondering why I am messaging her. Turns out, that Kevien does not own a phone, only his wife does. (feel free to send me a phone so I may give it to Kevien) After an initial confusion and language barrier, we set a time and date. 

Off I went to meet Kevien and his family.  

Being a foreigner in Bali is no big deal. There are many long-term and short-term foreigners here. But visiting a local in their little rental unit, referred to as a Kost is not normal.  

I searched for his location; it was 8 minutes from mine. Easy scooter ride to the village. It was not a place of villas and large houses. When I arrived an old man asked me what I was doing here. I was kind of lost and he assumed I was looking for the yoga retreat down the road. I assured him I was not and I was looking for a local named Kevien. He had no clue what I was talking about because Kevien sounds much like Kevin, a North American name with a slight variation in the spelling.  

In the Kost. 

I finally found Kevien after he called me and told me about the cell tower I was to look for. I looked up and drove a little further and there he was. The regular rental units in Indonesia usually consist of a single-story set of buildings all joined together like townhouses.  

Usually, one single room with an area for a kitchen and a washroom. It is a small unit usually occupied by migrant workers who travel from one area of Indonesia to another for work.  

As I approached, his wife was in the process of cleaning up the kost. I immediately saw the two little boys. Amazing how kids are kids, no matter where you go. Surprisingly neither of them was shy, their eyes were filled with curiosity and one was playing with a Styrofoam airplane. I am sure they were wondering what I was doing at their modest little home. 

Typical family. 

The dad goes out and works hard all day to put food on the table. The wife stays home and works equally hard, cooking, cleaning and tending to the children. That’s is the basis of how life is and how life was for most people in the world. In Kevien’s case, he tills the fields in the hot Bali sun while burning tons of calories doing knee raises all day. This is very hard work, he works from about 7-8 am to about 4-5 pm each day. 

Let’s face it, we messed up the system and confused the world ages ago. However, here the man takes care of the family by earning a wage so he can put food on the table. Kevien’s wife Samiatus Samsiye also comes from Java. She originates from Jember and stays at home and tends to the children, cooks and cleans. This couple has been married for 9 years and their boys are 2 and 7. They are the typical family one would find in Indonesia. Not mean to be insulting, but the education level in most places is low. Yet here I am speaking to a worker who understands quite a bit of English, a person who is eager to learn and work hard to support his family.  

Kevien wants change for the kids. 

Once more, the locals of Indonesia are much the same as us. They want a better life for their kids. Kevien and his wife want the kids to get into tourism and not have to work in the farming industry. They would like a better life for the kids as all parents do.  

This is how Kevien’s story began. He came to Bali at an early age from, Banyuwangi, which is located in Java. He came looking for work and settled in Bali. He did what he knows how to do. Though he would like to work in construction and find a different type of work if possible.  

The visit. 

At first, I felt out of place but I wanted to do this. I assume I had to overcome a bit of anxiety about venturing into a local home. But I am so glad that I was able to meet the whole family and interview them, see how they live and get their story.  

As I mentioned, Kevien’s family was not from Bali. They are Muslim and thus practice a different religion than the Balinese. We didn’t talk about this too much, religion was not part of my initial interview idea. But Kevien is so happy that Bali and the Balinese accept him and his family. There is no pressure or problems and he feels freedom here in Bali. I am unsure of his life and circumstances back in his hometown but he had never felt like an outsider.  

This comes full circle to me.  

The bald white man visiting Kevien and his family. Living in Indonesia for many years now, I have never felt discriminated against. Not for religious or racial reasons. This acceptance from Indonesians, in general, has been great. The word Indo means mixed and this sure is a mixed country. This is why I feel that the locals deserve a chance to have their say and being interviewed by a foreigner seems like fun. There are many different types of Indonesians, this is a large country. From Timor to Borneo, Java and all the bits in between. The capital city, Jakarta is overrun by foreigners, especially in the business areas. The population of Indonesia is also infused with Chinese, Caucasian and Japanese to name a few. 

My visit was short, I didn’t mean to intrude and I feel I am lucky to have been able to have this experience. At the end of my visit, I handed Kevien a small token of appreciation for his time and for allowing me into his home. 

But before I left, I asked Kevien if he has any questions for me. 

Kevien: 

What is your purpose for coming to Bali 

Me:

The first time I came to Bali was in December 1998/1999. It was at the tail end of the Indonesian crisis. I fell in love with Bali and the rest is history.  

Kevien: 

Do you want to stay in Bali? 

Me: 

Yes, absolutely. I love it here. 

Kevien: 

Why don’t you build your own house? Maybe I can help. 

Me: 

Maybe later, right now I am happy to move around Bali and meet many interesting people.   

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Published by Zsolt Zsemba

Zsolt Zsemba has worn many different hats. He has been an entrepreneur, businessman for over 30 years. Living abroad has given him many amazing experiences in life and also sparked his imagination for writing. After moving to Canada from Hungary at the age of 10 and working in a family business for a large part of his life. The switch from manufacturing to writing came surprisingly easily for him. His passion for writing began at age 12, mostly writing poetry and short stories. In 1999, the chance came to write scripts. Zsolt took some time off from his family business to write in Jakarta Indonesia for MD Entertainment. Having written dozens of soap operas and made for TV movies, in 2003 Zsolt returned to the family business once more. In 2018, he had the chance to head back to Asia once again. He took on the challenge to be the COO for MD Pictures and get back into the entertainment business. The entertainment business opened up the desire to write once more and the words began to flow onto the pages again. He decided to rewrite a book he began years ago. Organ House was reborn and is a fiction suspense novel while Scars is a young adult drama focused on life’s challenges. After the first two books, his desire to write not only became more challenging but enjoyable as well. After having several books completed he was convinced to publish them for your enjoyment. Zsolt does not tend to stay in one specific genre but tends to lean towards strong female leads and horror. Though he also has a few human interest books, he tends to write about whatever brews in his brain for a while.

4 thoughts on “Local Family. Bali Indonesia 9

  1. Thank you for giving the ordinary people of Bali a voice.
    This is definitely not the side that most tourists see. It highlights just how privileged we are.
    I love that you have voiced what I have found in all of my travels; that regardless of our race or religion. most people in the world want the same things. How wonderful to find a place in the world where differences are tolerated.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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