Singapore Adventure

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pizza Cantik
by venitha

Jim looks down with satisfaction at our pizza cantik (pronounced chahn-tee, meaning beautiful), spinach and egg atop wholemeal crust, and takes a lip smacking sip of his Storm Ale.

"We've come a long way, baby, from a six-pack of Old Milwaukee and an Uncle Jim's pepperoni." This the standard college fare in Madison, something that neither Jim nor I would ever turn down. Truth be told, however, what I could really go for is that other Wisconsin mainstay, batter-fried cheese curds.

"Cheers!" I clink my Fanta soda water against Jim's beer bottle. "To a very long way. Though I expected no less of you. I remember thinking, the first time I saw you... Here is a man who will one day voluntarily order spinach pizza in Bali for me and his unborn child. I'd better snap him up fast. Big hair, be damned."

Jim laughs. His hair is no longer big, in spite of the best efforts of southeast Asia's humidity, and we knew each other for a very long time before we became more than friends.

"And wholemeal crust. Don't forget the wholemeal crust." Jim serves me a slice of pizza. "Which does look like whole wheat." We'd debated this, does wholemeal mean whole wheat, and concluded it was likely that or grubs, but definitely something we could view as healthy.

As we make yummy noises over our shared lunch and discuss our plans for the afternoon (V: Another massage? I'm shocked! J: Another nap? I'm shocked!), my attention wanders to our fellow diners, two bronzed Caucausian women discussing the menu animatedly with their hands. Avoiding my gaze are pale blue eyes, alive with laugh lines, set in a face rugged with outdoor fun; staring openly is a bare back, below a head wild with dirty blonde dreadlocks, bound messily in a batik-patterned scrunchy.

These two could easily be in Madison, window shopping at the head shops on State Street or sipping a beer on the union terrace. And they'd be right at home at a ski resort in the mountains of Colorado. Not Vail, of course, or even Steamboat really, but they would flirt with snowboarders on the lifts at A Basin, and they would savor the springtime sunshine at a tailgate party in Mary Jane's Utah Junction parking lot.

Every last bite of our pizza savored and several fingers noisily licked, Jim and I make our way hand-in-hand past the table of muses. I listen for their conversation, hoping to catch their language, but they are suddenly silent, blinking up at me. "Dude!" I want to say, but I have nothing more, and before I know it Jim and I are standing among scattered temple offerings on Jalan Hanoman, roosters crowing, scooters beeping, men hopefully offering "Transport?". Next to me, a statue wears a black-and-white checked skirt, hibiscus blossoms behind each ear; across the dusty road, shoots of rice stand at perky attention, attended to by farmers ankle deep in mud.

Blinking up at Bali's hot afternoon sun, I squeeze Jim's hand. We've come a long way, baby.

Jim and I spent six glorious days in Ubud, Bali, in December.