Atta and Rani, Bali
Atta is a long-time Bali resident with very creative blood in her veins. Besides presently producing accessories and sourcing special handicrafts for a brand new business venue she is planning (Atta’s Gift Shop), now and then she also plays in local theatre productions.
Last week, as part of the now well-known Ubud Writers and Readers Festival I had the opportunity to see the matinee performance of ‘Conference of the Birds’, a play based on a 12th century Sufi poem by Farid ud Din Attar, one of the greatest Persian poets and precursor to Jalal ad-Din Rumi, famous and loved by so many. Each one of the seven actors represented a certain bird, with Atta playing The Partridge. The story tells of a journey of initially one thousand birds led by another bird, The Hoopoe, as an allegory of a wise Sufi teacher leading her pupils to enlightenment. The journey is treacherous yet wondrous, leading the birds through seven valleys (yearning, love, gnosis, detachment, divine unity, bewilderment, selflessness) until they reach the great Simorgh bird, a symbol of the divine, the place of subsistence in god.
The journey is a spiritual tale of transformation; each of the birds must die to their attachments, to pride, vanity and desires, so they may be reborn to find their true selves.
It was a remarkable performance and the mainly young audience of expat teenagers was to my surprise spellbound and I sensed they understood the message. Atta told me after the final performance that they never experienced such an alert audience like the one they had during the matinée!
For many years now, Rani has been living in Bali and also Byron Bay, Australia where she resided in the Samasati community. A while ago she decided to come back to live in Bali again to pursue her favorite activity – diving and taking underwater video’s and photographs. She lives on the Northwest coast of Bali in a small rural village and is an active member of the unique coral restoration project Karang Lestari. A new technology called Biorock® (www.globalcoral.org) has been applied to the damage that had befallen the corals in the area mainly through careless fishing methods; the project has been extremely successful and has won several environmental awards. Huge metal structures are lowered into the ocean and fed a constant weak electricity current which builds up limestone on the bars; then coral fragments are transplanted onto the bars and they grow up to 3 – 5 times faster than usual. Also, it has been found that those corals are more resistant to stress, such as pollution and warming water. Besides the fact that tropical fish are now found again very close to the shore, edible fish stock has also increased to the delight of the local fishermen who have now learned about the importance of conservation and support the restoration projects.
If you would like to nudge the coral growth along, you have a unique opportunity to sponsor a baby coral! biorockbali.webs.com
Rani shares some of her favorite photographs in the slideshow ‘Rani’s Underwater World’ in this issue. All images were taken at the coral restoration project and show some of the vast diversity of fish and critters of this project. Enjoy!