Making Ubud the base in Bali means the quiet downtime you daydream about during your daily commute is finally yours. If you resist the temptation to hire a motorbike and gallivant around the island, you will find yourself lazing around for the better part of the day trying to mimic bird sounds while trying to spot them in the lush tropical foliage. Afternoons are perfect to step out. The sun, not so warm. The breeze, just on the right side of cool. Amiable conditions for a long, rambling walk. Or to chat with a diffident artist working quietly at his roadside workshop.
Wayan Raman had a weather-beaten face creased with wrinkles. As I approached him, a shy yet warm smile spread across his face. His tiny shed cum workshop was decorated with hundreds of paintings on a variety of surfaces ranging from canvas to the typical Balinese ‘eggs’ – hollow wooden structures in the shape of eggs. He was painting one of these eggs. We exchanged ‘hellos’. My pan-Asian features aroused his curiosity. ‘Malay?’ He asked. ‘Indian’ I replied. He chuckled. ‘I have never seen Indians like you. You look so much like us’. This is the point where I launch into a practiced and brief introduction of the part of India I hail from, the ethnographic reasons behind why we look ‘different’, etc.
Wayan remarked that he had travelled once to Jaipur for a painting workshop. He made some good friends there and is still in touch with them. I asked for his permission to take pictures of his work, and while he worked. He happily obliged. It was quite fascinating to see him hold the egg with one hand as he painted it with deft touches. There’s hardly any room for error. The egg is light, but sitting in a hunched position, while holding it with one hand and painting it with the other definitely doesn’t look easy.
Wayan who has been painting since his childhood, however, made it look effortless. His images are inspired from nature and the great Hindu epic - the Ramayana. The painted eggs are a typical example of exquisite Balinese craftsmanship. As I watched this little masterpiece being created painstakingly by the side of a sleepy village road, I really hoped in this increasingly modern world of ours, artists like Wayan always find a quiet little corner to call their own.