This spring, two of my house staff, Made and Putu entered a body builder’s contest. Made looks like a small-sized Mr. Universe. Six months ago, he enrolled Putu, the shy one, into a serious regimen of workouts. Made, the bold, pulled up his shirt to show off his abs. He’s been at this for years and it shows. Made, Made Curly, so named by the staff for his curly hair, just got a modified Mohawk this week. No more Made Curly. We also have a Made Security, a.k.a., Made Tinggi (or Made Tall) on staff. Made Mohawk proudly points to Putu and says, “Putu has abs now too, show them!”

Putu looks uncomfortable, but pulls his shirt up halfway. Sure enough, to everyone’s surprise, there they are, real, live abs.

The competition apparently was a low budget local affair. Four local gyms were competing against each other, each presenting five of their best specimens. Somehow I couldn’t see a Speedo contest for local Balinese, so when Made showed me photos of the competition, I wasn’t surprised that the twenty guys competing were barefoot and bare-chested, wearing oil and blue jeans. They were lined up on the stage at once, striking poses from silly tough guy to smiling charmer, the effect being an overall kind of sweetness in its innocence.


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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