“Look I can do it, I can do it!”
A girl, no older than seven, spins a glass top on the communal table. She’s trying to outdo her dad, John a middle aged Englishman – sporting relaxed grey singlet, and relaxed grey goatee. They’re competing for the important title of being the best spinner of the glass tops. The girl, Mabel, is adorably competitive. The way John interacts with her is inspiring. They laugh and flip through magazines, talk, play at the communal coffee table. A father-daughter excursion to the best coffee in Ubud. Mabel moves back and forth in the specially designed rocking chairs that dot the cafe.
One of John’s friend, Tegan, comes into the cafe. She’s in her early 40s, by herself, Australian, friendly. They exchange greetings. It’s soon clear they are both part of the expat scene here in Ubud.
“I was speaking to Diego last night and he’s joined some transcendental club”.
I’m not sure what a transcendental club is, but it seems exclusive.
They continue talking about the things Ubud expats do: health food, friends that have gone walkabout in the Ecuadorian jungle, ayurvedic dentists. Their mutual acquaintances have names like Talian, Jemliah, Diego.
The rest of the cafe is a cross-section of Bali society – a middle class Indonesian family sits at the coffee bar. Various solo travellers, maybe expats, sit around on their Apple products, sipping coffee. Two girls behind me have just come from yoga. No one in this cafe, indeed very few in Ubud seem younger than 30, except for children.
An old Balinese woman dressed in traditional clothing, starts to make offerings around the cafe. She places small handmade pockets of flowers at the table, at the bar. She weaves in between the digital nomads, the Balifornians, the noveau-riche Indonesians. It’s a mixture of old and new Bali and somehow it works.
Mabel stops playing with the glass top and switches to her dad’s toy. After five minutes of fiddling she asks “What’s so good about the new iPhone?”
It just doesn’t compare to glass spinning tops.