Jamie at On the Mat recently posted a nice review of the book/movie event, Eat Pray Love.
I have to say that the book fell a bit flat for me, although I did read it until the end. I enjoyed the bits about Bali because I go there often and recognized many of the places, but I couldn't really relate to Gilbert's character, and I didn't find myself warming to her. Maybe that's because I've never been through a divorce. Maybe I'm just a different kind of person in the way I deal with hardship in my life. I did like the wise words of the Texan yoga dude though. I wish HE would write a book!
Anyway, as a spin off to Jamie's post, I have definitely been affected by the side affect of this book that she mentions - the people who are now going on copy-cat vacations and yes, you guessed it, ending up in Ubud, Bali, one of my favourite and often frequented (it's only 1.5 hours away by plane) vacation spots! Not that there's anything wrong with that - Ubud is a tourist mecca and not exactly private anyway! - but really, there are only so many western women looking to find themselves (and a hot Brazilian second husband wouldn't hurt...) who can hang around in any one small Balinese town! ;)
I guess the thing that bothers me is that some of these visitors are traveling to far-flung places but are not really as interested in discovering those places as in finding themselves. Now there's nothing wrong with soul-searching, but if you are going to come to someone else's home, why not learn a bit about it? Get to know some of the locals? Learn about the history and politics of the place, the struggles and joys of its people? I know Gilbert did this to some extent in her book, and that's great, but I have met people in Bali who don't even know that Bali is part of the Republic of Indonesia! Really.
Last time I was in Ubud I met a woman on one such soul quest. When I told her that I lived in East Timor (blank look), an island south-east of Bali, she looked at me and breathily oozed: "oooooooh, is it just PARADISE?". I hardly even knew how to respond. The words sort of stumbled out and I mumbled, "oh, it's not as nice as here", and moved off. It wasn't her fault that she wasn't aware of the poverty, hardship and suffering (or existence at all), of the people in East Timor. But what I wanted to say was "no... and neither is Bali".
Because Bali, while it may seem like paradise (and I'll be interested to see how it comes across in the film), is just a place like anywhere else. Behind the glossy tourist facades, there is a harder life, too. Corruption, harsh political realities and the constant struggle against poverty are just as much a reality here as many other places in the Indonesian archipelago.
Just sayin... Satya, they yogic principle of truthfulness, is also about seeing the world as it is, in all its multi-layered complexity. Not seeing only what you want to be true.