Tuesday Afternoon Reverie


When life takes your hand to enter its torture chamber, let it be. Let it crush your particles it wants to crush. Let them die as their death marks the birth of those pink water lilies just outside your window.

If you are lucky — as lucky as I — I will take you inside and watch the water lilies grow, die, and grow again, playing our love recital.

The Tat Story – Part 2

I was relaxing at home, finally, after an agonizing situation – trapped in a traffic for an hour. On BlackBerry messenger and Twitter, many of my contacts complained about traffic in Bali. Earlier today I had a lunch with a magazine editor, and we agreed that Bali has turned to be more and more like Jakarta – talking about street congestions. Crazy Bali traffic! Tourists, isn’t it time to head back home? 

I was still ranting about the pain-in-the-neck Bali traffic on social media when my phone rang. “Komang Tatto” was written on the screen. It took me about 7 seconds before I answered. I was trying to figure out what business he was calling me for. Komang made a phoenix tattoo on my back in August last year (see my older post), and we hadn’t had any other contact ever since.

“Hullo,” I said.
“Hi, mbak Agnes, this is pak Komang. Komang the tattooist.”
“Hi, pak Komang! How are you, pak? How can I help you?”

My forehead was still frowning, squeezing my brain. What in the congested world of Bali did he call me for?

“Today I had guests from Jakarta,” Komang said. “They brought a picture of your tattoo to me.”

What? How come?  But why? I still could not relate.

“You showed them to me, mbak! Thank you!” He continued with his story.

Now I understand. This couple from Jakarta looked up on Google for ‘tattoo in bali’ and were directed to a blog post of mine that tells about my phoenix tattoo, its meaning, and the talented, tattoo-less tattoo artist who carved it on my body: Komang. I also wrote a short direction to get to his tattoo studio in Kuta. And today, I’m embarassed to say this, but thanks to my blog post with some SEO content technique, the couple now got a tat each on their bodies from the down-to-earth master. They are the lucky ones! 😀

Komang called me to let me know that he was grateful. “Thank you for sending me the grace!” He sounded very happy. I was moved by his humbleness.

If you are thinking of making a tattoo in Bali, and Kuta is your whereabouts, you can find my friend Komang in his Mega Tattoo studio, just behind Matahari Dept. Store, Kuta Square. If you found yourself reading this blog post, you are the lucky one!

Now, don’t you agree that some tattoos are meant to be? Now, I believe there are reasons to stop complaining. Boy, I feel good!


3: 10 to the Dance Floor (Murder by a Pen)

The pen that’s deadly – I’ve used it to kill a handful of names

All men that once mattered, one or two with haunting ghosts

I put each name every time my heart could not contain
Names – sometimes initials – that became uncontrollably wild
The pen was not any of those men’s genital; it was always mine
A psychic lady told me not to put a man’s name in writing
For my own welfare, she said, else someone was betraying
The pen killed the names, one after another, sometimes altogether
Stay away from the tip of my pen, stop swaying and swirling!
Am I in love with you? How is it from the perspective of illusion?
You’re young, lean, soft-voiced, and that comforting dark past
Now you’re standing still, smiling. I know what’s behind your back


I accepted your offer to infuse myself with a cup of trivial joy
And with bites of of finger cookies left from last Halloween
Our souls embraced each other like a fly trapped in a spider web
I licked your youthful charm on the brim of my glass
You giggled, showing off your dimples; clothes wet but intact
And from your mouth, another proposition for another day

The Tat Story


If you believe – like I do – that nature by her signs tells you what’s right and wrong, you’ll also believe that there’s a tattoo that’s meant to be. On last Wednesday Stephen Lomax, the boss of the theatre, proudly showed me a new full color tattoo of a big cross on his left chest. “My friend, Komang, did the work,” he said. Three days later, Komang did a beautiful phoenix tattoo on my back.


In my earlier post I wrote that all Indonesian tattoo artists are these dark-skinned, morose, cigarette junkies with tattoos of various kinds adorning their skins. Komang is fair skinned, shy, (not seen smoking while I was there for 2.5 hours), and tattoo-free. “I can’t bear the pain,” he said.

Despite the ‘guy’ stink that comes from his shirt, I found Komang impressive. Not just because he made time for me (knowing that I was Stephen’s friend), turning down a request of an Australian couple who paid him a visit for a tattoo. The mid-thirty guy holds a diploma in Visual Art and is a gifted illustrator. Prior to that day, I spoke to him over the phone that I didn’t want my phoenix to be like those images generated by Google when you typed ‘phoenix tattoo’, or a phoenix that looked like a rooster. Then he made three designs for me to choose from. I instantly knew the one in the bottom was mine.

Komang’s studio “Mega Tattoo” is located behind Matahari Kuta Square, Kuta, Bali. Even if it’s somehow true that many tattoo studios in Kuta are annoyingly commercial (money first, art second), well, Komang is definitely an exception! (He even used two different needles on me to create certain effects – both were new, of course!)

Paksindra – Phoenix

It’s got to be a phoenix for me. I was ‘dead’ once or twice in this life, so to speak, and a phoenix bird is a mythological creature that symbolizes revival. I feel a strong connection with this creature, spiritually speaking.

The other reason is very dear to me. My daughter has a middle name ‘Paksindra’ and there’s a spiritual story behind it. A few weeks before I found out that I was pregnant, a bird came to our place and stayed in our room for about ten days. The bird’s tail was featherless. I fed her (or him) with rice every day, and on the tenth day when she flew out and never came back, she got her tail feathers back. Months after that, when I was obviously baby bumped, a spiritual friend told us to give our daughter ‘Paksindra’ – bird from heaven – as her middle name. Paksindra. That phoenix is also a symbol of my love to my daughter.

Some tattoo advice

My 13-year old was ecstatic when I told her about my new tat. “I want to make one when I’m older,” she said. “Does it hurt?” Oh, yes! I said. But if you’ve given birth before, this is nothing.

What else should I tell you if you want to make a tattoo?

  • Pick a design wisely. Don’t make a tat of a boyfriend’s name. Not even a husband’s. You’ll never know. A son or daughter’s name is different. But it’s your body and your life, so the choice is yours. One thing, whatever it is, the tattoo speaks something about you.
  • You can ask Google to direct you to lists of tattoo artists or designs for inspiration, and they can be really good, too. But the sense that something’s done right is quite a different story. I met Komang via Stephen. And the design was especially made for me. I am happy with the result.
  • Think about where to put your tattoo on your body. If you don’t work in a company that requires a certain degree of uniformity, throw this advice into the bin.
  • If you think your religion/mom/in-laws will fight against the idea…. Well, you certainly know what to do.


The Monkey King and I were not meant to be… ~ A Walk in Ubud

Lionk the Tattoo Master: Vicky Burki also has an appointment with me.
Three Dumb Girls (Us): Hehehe… (and who’s Vicky Burki, again?)

Sunday. Five business cards in hand today mean five new contacts. More or less. My neighbor Sherly introduced me to her new colleague, Dwi – a hip and pretty girl, a manager in a five star resort in Ungasan Bali.We exchanged business cards in a business-like manner. But after five seconds, we threw that attitude out of the window. Three of us headed to Ubud. Dwi drove. Sherly navigated. I trusted my life in them.

The second business card was from Lada Warung on Jalan Hanoman. Sherly and I had a brunch in the small restaurant with the tagline “Indonesian Home Cooking.” A pretty cool place with a couple of wall ornaments you can use as picture backgrounds. Dwi was fasting, so she took a walk along the strip of small shops nearby. But before that, we asked the waiter to take pictures of us. Typical.

The third, fourth, and fifth business cards came from three different tattoo artists. Sherly and I were determined to make our first tats. So, before we came to Ubud we browsed on the Internet with keywords ‘ubud tattoo’ or ‘tattoo in ubud’. First, why Ubud? Why not Kuta? Because Ubud is ‘Apple’ and Kuta is ‘Microsoft’, in taste and ambiance. Only that making tattoo in Ubud is generally less expensive than in the highly commercial Kuta. Second, continuing the google search, when you enter the keywords, you will find out that this guy named Lionk (originally I Putu Nuarsa) ranked top of the search engine. Some blogs from some happy costumers even backlink his website.

We met the dark-skinned tattoo master (a useless description indeed, because ALL Indonesian tattoo artists are dark skinned. Somewhat sulky. Heavy smokers), but we didn’t manage to win his time. When we got there Lionk was only minutes from finishing his artwork on the arm of an American girl. We saw how refined his work was. His sophisticated design was patched on the happy costumer’s skin beautifully. I realized instantly that my simplistic taoist design looked amateurish and a master like him should have no business with it. I saved my pride with the fact that Lionk’s schedule was tight that day. At least that was what he said. Maybe he was just reluctant. Ok, Lionk, I promise I will come back to you with an ultra sophisticated design that is worth your mastery and mood!

Because one door was closed today, we went to other doors. On Jalan Monkey Forest, turning left from Jalan Hanoman, we and the thing we wanted finally matched. Not quite ‘The Monkey King’, but still ‘monkeys with experience’. There’s time and place for every thing. And Japanese kanji that says ‘creativity’ now lies on the side of my left lower arm.


The Flattering Word

Lembaga Indonesia – Perancis tonight. It wasn’t too flattering, but it was not unexpected. It was weak here and there. I met Mr. Alip there, and he said, “I wish I were home.” It might not be anything worth reviewing after all, but I was envious! The faculty of letters had made it! How about us? Maybe I took us too seriously. No kidding.

Play it again, Jack!

When I was born, I was almost fourteen years old. That’s why I was able to understand more easily than most what it was all about.

EUGENE IONESCO, Jack, or The Submission

I have always wanted to direct an Ionesco’s piece. It won’t happen in the near future, I got tons of other things to do, thanks to Sanata Dharma! But good news is one of the groups in my Play Performance class is on their way to producing Jack, or The Submission, which brought joy to my otherwise tiring world. I am exaggerating, of course. My students haven’t really decided on it actually, but I crossed my fingers, the other plays they presented to me this morning were not a bit close to being as amusing and wild as Jack. A perfect reason to cross them out once and for all if I were them.