bali: ketut and nyoman

In traditional Balinese culture, there are only four names a person can have, and these are completely dependent on the birth order. Regardless of whether the children are male or female, the firstborn is Wayan, second is Made, third is Nyoman and fourth is Ketut. With the fifth child on, the cycle just starts over again. This must make for interesting morning roll calls in Balinese classrooms.

On the recommendation of my friend Leilani, I arranged to have a guy named Ketut Ciri be my driver and guide for the two full days (Friday and Saturday) of my long weekend. As I had contacted him on very short notice, Ketut was booked, and so he sent his brother Nyoman in his place.

Nyoman, driving Ketut, my bro

Nyoman began our relationship by apologising like crazy. He was sorry his brother couldn’t make it, sorry he was “stupid no English”, sorry he had a “very bad” car. I wanted to hug the guy, especially since I had begun our relationship 45 minutes late, after all my airport stupidity.

Nyoman led me to his car (a little Suzuki van, which was not that bad incidentally) and after I climbed in – accidentally almost slamming the door off its hinges – he asked me how I had gotten Ketut’s name. I told him about Leilani, and he about bounced through the roof. “Lelani!? Oh Leilani is very good kind, very smart!”

I knew then that I’d be well looked after.

Sure enough, Nyoman worked incredibly hard to make sure I saw as much of Bali as I could possibly see in a day, and when Ketut came to meet me the next morning for my Saturday program, he greeted me with a giant grin and a huge bear hug.

Thanks L.