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Yoga Who Doesn’t Do Yoga

“We can, but lot of step” — Yoga (yes, that’s a legitimate Indonesian name) warned, as I excitedly pointed at the waterfall sign. The stairs lay hidden under a thick layer of tropical plants, adorned with roots of old trees, sort of serving as stoppers to prevent slipping into the green abyss. “Don’t let me down”, I whispered to my gummy sandals, purchased in a local market for a solid 8 euros.

If the extremely loud ‘forest alarm birds’ allowed, one could hear my knees pouring profanities left and right as we began to descend. Every step felt like a parkour training. Whoever was in charge of building these steps either didn’t want anyone to see the waterfall or expected only giants to visit it. Also, who needs handrails when there are plenty of mysterious plants around to cling onto? It imposes the manoeuvring you need to counter mosquito attacks on the way.

Yoga paused every five steps or so to quiz me on the surrounding fauna, but when we ran out of plants I realised he was simply taking advantage of quick breaks to catch his breath. “Don’t like climbing”, the 22-year-old confessed. I immediately called him out on not doing yoga and insisted on joining me for the Mt Agung climb (the highest mountain in Bali) next month. It’s safe to say that the proposal wasn’t taken seriously.

What Yoga did take seriously was his sleep. We had agreed to go for a short rice field hike early next morning, though we failed to define “early”. The time was approaching 10 am and I began to wonder whether my half-innocent joke about “starting the day with a few surya namaskars before setting off” had anything to do with Yoga’s absence. At 10:55 am I received a message saying “I just woken”. It’s amusing how in Indonesia Bahasa as well as in Balinese verbal tenses don’t exist. This explains why you often hear things like “let us began starting in a seated position” — I am quoting one of the instructors in a yoga class.

“It’s almost lunch!”, I replied, lacing up my hiking shoes in preparation for the adventure. “But I didn’t take my lunch yet”, was an unexpected, but a fair answer that arrived 20 minutes later. So, I apologised to my hiking shoes for the false excitement and put them away with a hunch that I suddenly had a surplus of free time.

Yoga showed up around 12:30 explaining that he stayed up until 3 am the previous night to work on his “ogoh-ogoh”. Exactly, that was my facial expression too. Was he mocking me? The explanation “for Ngrupuk” didn’t help, nor the addition of “for Nyepi”. The inner European clock kicked in with the usual “we are behind schedule here”, so I asked Yoga to elaborate on the above as we head off to the rice fields.