Made (pronounced Mad-a | a as in apricot) was our designated driver-cum-guide on my trip to Bali with friends for my birthday last month. As per Balinese culture, the firstborn is colloquially called Wayan or Gede or Putu, second Made or Kadek, third Nyoman or Komang , and fourth Ketut.
On our way back from the beaches of Amed one day, exhausted, sleepy and looking for something peppy to revive us, we started to explore the CD collection in Made’s car (Read about Amed here). Ignorantly thinking everything would be in Bahasa we aborted our expedition midway and tuned into music from our individual iPhones for the 2 hour journey back to our villa in Ubud (Read Rustic Green. Winging it with Airbnb in Ubud. 50/50)
It was only after dinner later that day did we hear him driving around Monkey Forest looking to pick us up, jamming to what seemed like very fast country music. We were then introduced to Rockabilly through a band called The Stray Cats.
We knew country music and rock and roll but not rockabilly. Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll, dating to the early 1950s in the United States, particularly the South. It blends the sound of American folk and Western musical styles, such as country and bluegrass, with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered classic rock and roll. The term rockabilly itself is a portmanteau of rock (from rock ‘n’ roll) and hillbilly, the latter referring to country music (often called hillbilly music in the 1940s and 1950s) that contributed strongly to the style’s development.
Made was indeed a personification of rockabilly, right down to the beret and Daddy O’s shoes. We told him he probably was the ultimate hipster in Ubud or better yet, extremely bourgeois bohemian but he always shook his head in disagreement. His holier-than-thou (by the end of the trip he had rightfully earned the nickname of HTT) phase kicked in and there began the lecture about how he does what he does because he enjoys it and not to be sectionalised or titled. He wasn’t a follower. He was a leader, but did not care if no one followed.
For someone born and raised on a tiny island, Made had interests and ideas so diverse you could tell he wasn’t someone who was happy with the ordinary. He grew coffee, he drove tourists around in the hope of showing them a better Bali, he played the guitar and promoted Rockabilly music.
He also had an opinion, on everything. Often rather than not, his HTT-ness would kick in. Mostly, it was refreshing and welcoming, a few times, painfully overbearing. You would see him stop at an intersection to give young, rash bikers a telling off. You would hear him justify why he choses to grow coffee while predominately Balinese are rice growers (commendable though). He would scoff when we wanted to visit a Starbucks, saying it was not real coffee. He did not understand why young Indonesian girls married foreign white men. He did not believe in divorce. Tourists who smoked pot or weed were not welcome in his car and he did not want to be associated with the likes of them. He wanted to be different. He wanted to change the world.
On our way back to the airport we learnt that Made had finally married his girlfriend of 5 years and we all wished him the very best for the future. Our short trip to Bali was filled with breathtaking landscapes, still gorgeous blue waters, moments of pure joy and wonder and yet it was unanimous that Made and his interesting take on life possibly stole the show.
The world is flawed, nothing is perfect. Superman is dead.