Sew happy to be in Bali
A few days in Bali before Christmas felt like a fortnight — but in the best way. There is a tensile quality to time spent away from daily routine. Days seem longer, everything stretches out, seemingly to infinity, until, whoosh, it’s time to pack and go home. Oh, yes, packing.
You’d think by now I would have stopped shopping. After decades of travel, what else could I possibly need in the way of international oddments. Well, not unlike my husband, who haunts hardware stores for ever newer and more complicated devices and doovers, I have become addicted to shops selling sewing bits and bobs.
So there I was at the extraordinary emporium known as Toko Central on Jalan Raya Kuta, faced with aisle upon aisle of buttons, ribbons, trims, loose beads, fancy fringes and sequeens (sic), and big, bouncy displays of what I thought were tiny cushion inserts but turned out to be brassiere enhancements.
Faced with such choice I was quite overcome and a sales assistant, who popped from behind a stack of pompoms, handed me a plastic bag. “Lunch,” she said, in such a matter-of-fact tone that I realised all shoppers here must get the vapours and require sustenance. The package contained an orange, three tiny bananas, a mini-muffin and a Balinese green sticky cake.
The act of feeding customers did make me wonder about the business model devised by the proprietors of Toko Central. Theoretically, you could pop by for a snack any old time and barely buy a 20c zipper. “It is good karma,” shrugged my friend Linawaty who had escorted me to the shop and was guiding me about while simultaneously getting lost herself. We decided to split up for 30 minutes and regroup by the pompoms.
Who knew you could buy big plastic bags of pompoms, each surely containing enough to dress a troupe of cheerleaders or deck out a Bollywood dance set or mardi gras float? I went wild, stocking up on strings of red, blue and white fluffiness. Back home, I wound the pompoms all around my family’s Christmas presents and had about a trillion left over to trim cushions and bed-throws and possibly to wrap the house, Christo style.
Meantime, Linawaty was testing zippers, appraising the gliding motion, the strength of the catch, the general touch and feel. She had lost track of time so, feeling off the hook, I walked across to the ribbons section.
You might imagine a few shelves piled with spools but Toko Central does nothing by halves. Every colour, texture, degree of sparkle and spangle was arrayed, almost to the ceiling. I revived myself with a banana. A smiling assistant materialised from behind the grosgrains and took the skin from me as I made a note to take a collapsible stepladder next visit.
Of course when it came time to leave Bali, I had to employ the secondary zipped compartment of my suitcase, the one that turns it into a kind of pop-top caravan. It may or may not have been festooned with a festive sprinkling of stray sequeens on its way home for Christmas.