Author Archives: ldsouza

Finding happiness and being grateful


We moved to Bali for many reason in July of 2013 with no plans of how long we would live on this island for. One of the main reasons for our move, was to expose our children to different cultures and a different way of life – first hand. Having lived in tropical “paradise” for a year and a half, our older son has been very keen to move back “home” and get back on the “ice”! He misses snow and all that the land of snow has to offer – skiing, skating, and most of all playing “ice” hockey, as it is referred to here in Bali:). He has also been talking a lot about how much “happier” he’ll be when he moves back to Canada.

As a mother to two very active, head strong, independent, young boys, I have learnt that talking and having long discussion on happiness and gratitude just does not cut it. They role their eyes and take it as a lecture. The only way they(I) learn is by the action of “doing”.

Living in Bali has thought me so many things, the most important – it has though me is to share life lessons with my children through the action of doing. What we have know all along but experienced on a grand scale as a family, living in Bali, is that happiness is predicated not so much on a single event as it is on the continuous accrual of small pleasures. As Priestley puts it “gather enough kindling and you can get a cozy fire going, enough flowers and you’ll have a bouquet, enough friends together and you’ll have a memorable day”. And so it is with happiness – I have learnt to find the extraordinary in living my ordinary day to day island life, those fleeting moments of happiness I have experienced for example when being present in my breath when doing a yoga class, or a very challenging cross-fit class or sitting in the evenings at my local beach and watching my children and dog play in the water while the sun goes down, or sweating away and being uncomfortable when I’m cooking the evening meal in our hot kitchen…but knowing in my mind that everyone who is sharing in our meal that night will enjoy the love and hard work I have put into preparing the meal…. these are the small pleasures that sustain me in my life of of routine, responsibilities, achievements and setbacks. And these are the lessons I am hoping that my children will see and learn from, on being happy and grateful.

I believe and have learnt that happiness is something to work on daily. It is a cultivated habit and a mindset that we hold the key to. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to experience these fleeting moments of happiness on a daily basis. Wether we move back to Canada or continue to stay in Bali for another year, I am certain that true happiness for me is to be grateful for small fleeting pleasures and to enjoy the present moment without anxiously depending on the future.

Our puppies in Bali

Any person who has take a trip to Bali even for a short visit has undoubtedly seen lots of stray dogs on the streets, the beaches, near temples and just about anywhere on this Island. I’ve read that over half a million stray dogs live on this tiny island of Bali. They hang out at these locations – hungry, sick and often injured from mistreatment and accidents.

Some pictures of stray dogs below:(



Balinese (like Indians) have a different cultural attitude and viewpoint on keeping pets and how much to nurture them. The Balinese people have a very special and cultural relationship with their dogs, even though this is sometimes seen by outsiders as not humane. Balinese society is highly spiritual and can be superstitious. Many people believe the Bali dog will alert people to the unseen presence of “spirits” – both good and bad. Some Hindus believe humans who lead a less than perfect life are destined for canine reincarnation, and generally the Bali street dogs are not desired as pets by the locals. I guess like most people around the world, most Balinese prefer purebred dogs. Furthermore, there was a rabies epidemic a few years ago and many street dogs needlessly were culled before a rabies vaccination campaign was launched by the government, which has further contributed towards negative attitudes to Bali street dogs.

My children have always wanted a dog. When we lived in Canada, I found it hard enough taking care of kids, leave alone taking care of a dog as well. More so, I wanted my kids to be a bit older and take responsibility for looking after their dog.

Before we moved to Bali, I promised the kids that we would look into getting “a” dog once we were moved and settled into Bali. We moved in July of 2013 from Canada to Bali and I was pleasantly surprised how well my kids adjusted to life in Bali. My younger son was turning 8 in September of that year, so we though it would be a good idea to get a puppy for the family on his birthday. With this in mind we did some research and decided that a golden retriever was a good choice as a pet for young kids – they love the water, love to fetch, love kids, love cuddles, look extremely cute…the list goes on.

After some research and deliberation, we felt as a family, we could not pay for a puppy when there were so many stray dogs on this Island. We decided to wait a bit and learn more about Bali street dogs and how we could help other than donations. After a year of living in Bali, we felt that if we were going to have a dog, it had to be Bali dog!!! So we adopted this cute little girl from BARC, ( a Bali dog adaptation and rehabilitation center).


To learn more about BARC and the fantastic work they do on this Island visit this site Please donate if you have the means, to this organization.

Our little adopted pup was rescued on Kuta beach, we named her Coco because of the color of her eyes and fur.

Coco liked the kids from the very first day we brought here home and the kids were in their element.


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….and then there were two. In less than a month we had two puppies. A friend had rescued a few dogs on a beach near her house and she was looking for a home for them. We adopted our second Bali pup. She was already named Cleo so we kept that name

Meet Cleo our second Bali dog, a month younger to Coco



Coco and Cleo are great playmates for each other. Is it a lot of work having two puppies? – YES!! Without a doubt. Is it worth it? YES!!! for sure. We have learnt a lot from interacting with these puppies and my children have learnt about responsibility and a fair bit about Bali dogs.

We have learnt that genetic studies of the Bali street dogs indicate that a diverse population of dogs existed on the island of Bali prior to its geographic isolation approximately 12,000 years ago and has been little influenced by domesticated European dogs since that time.

The Balinese Dog had the important job of keeping the balance of garbage, organic waste and consequently the rat populations on the Island in check until the introduction of plastics in the 1960’s, thus making them a valuable part of the health and ecosystem in Bali. Unfortunately, this does not hold true today!

Despite our Bali dogs still being puppies they make excellent guard dogs due to their loyalty to us and the fact that typically the Bali Dog will never obey someone who has not first earned their trust.

The misinformed belief that they cannot be trained may stem from their uneasiness with humans. If a person has not gained their trust, the Bali Dog will not obey them. We have learnt that our Bali puppies our extremely intelligent and once their trust is gained they can be trained to do anything that they are asked to do.

We love our Bali dogs – Coco and Cleo. Here our some more pictures of our Bali dogs.

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Reasons for relocating…if there has to be any when justifying Bali

Have you ever lived in a dynamic, multicultural region where you never know what to expect from one day to the next? That’s Bali. And that’s one of the reasons my family and I moved to this tropical paradise. We wanted our kids to experience living in a culture and environment that is amazingly different from North America (specifically, Canada).  Oh ya, we also moved because my partner is a surfer and Bali has some of the best waves in the world!!!


Being originally from India, I also wanted my children to experience Asian culture(s), as well as travel to India as often as we can.  It’s much easier & cheaper getting to India from Bali than Canada. We did our first India trip from Bali this past December and they LOVED it. They’ve been to India before, but this trip they seemed to enjoy much more, probably because they were a couple of years older.

Some pics from our recent India trip:

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Being half Indian, the kids get “special” treatment by Balinese almost everywhere we go. Bali is more than 90% Hindu and the Balinese love meeting us and knowing that I was born and brought up in India. Even though the Hinduism practiced in Bali is VERY different to what is practiced in India. I take full advantage of flaunting that I am originally from India.  Actually, most Balinese know that I am Indian because of the Bollywood influence on Bali.

Living In Bali now, I can say there are HUGE difference between Balinese and Indians, in every way – food, culture, attitude towards life, religion, the list goes on.  For now I am happy and fortunate to be living in Bali and experiencing this interesting and vibrant life, which does not come without its challenges.

Island life

I am embracing my island life with enthusiasm and attempted acceptance. However, what I have learnt in the last 9 months is that Bali is NOT paradise. Some days I want to throw in my sarong, leave all the beautiful flowers and rice fields behind and return home. But then this passes like all bad winds, thankfully for my family who love it here and have no second thoughts whatsoever.



One thing I’m developing for sure is patience. You cannot live on this Island and have little patience. You need LOTS & LOTS of it. Patience when driving, patience when doing daily chores, patience when working with local staff, patience just sitting in the heat, waiting for the wind gods to blow your way. I can do only one outside task a day.  That is, if I’m lucky and I haven’t been held up in traffic. This is the way things role here. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I’ll probably have comatose at the end of my stay from all the patience I’ve developed/developing by living on this island.

Everywhere I go I have to tell locals I live here, I’m not a tourist. Learning the language is crucial for me. Slowly but surely. The other day I was buying a young coconut from a vendor on the street, something I do everyday. I’m quite comfortable asking for it in Bahasa. Instead of asking for kelapa muda – a young coconut. I asked for kepala muda. This vendor knows me quite well, I buy other fruit & vegetables from him now and again. He smiled slightly and said in English “want young head”. “What?” I asked. He laughed and said “kepala means head”. I was tempted to come back with a witty answer, but I didn’t have the Bahasa vocabulary!!!

Young coconuts in Bali ready to be harvested.

young coconuts

There are SO many tourists on this island who come for the euphoric experience of sitting by a pool, doing day trips to beautiful temples, watching a few sunset Balinese plays, indulging in the cuisine, hiking along the beautiful rice fields or the slopes of volcano’s, taking the occasional yoga class, relinquishing to many, many cheap massages and body treatments and then returning home. Tropical paradise, rightfully so for tourists.

A small beach, not well known but still filled with tourists.

Sunset Balinese outdoor plays


Living here with kids and trying to earn an income is quite different. The hardest thing I find is surviving Bali roads. Bali roads are far from paradise. Driving lessons or testing for a license is not common among the vast majority of Balinese. You can buy a license from the police quite easily. It’s not uncommon to see children of 9 & 10 riding a motorbike with no helmet or papers. Add a very gracefully traditionally dressed Balinese woman riding a motorbike with one hand and holding a basket on her head with another, throw into this mix a young guy riding his bike while talking or texting, teenage girls on their bike, one steers and the other pulls a huge penjor ( penjors are tall, decorated bamboo poles, with curved upper ends, on which are attached elaborate offerings to the God’s. They are erected outside temples and family houses during certain ceremonies), an expat riding his bike with one dog in front and one behind, you get the picture,  a recipe for disaster.  All of this happening on very narrow roads.


Yet, there is no road rage here. I love it! (no road rage that is). You just learn to smile at an Ibu (literal translation is mother, but generally used for a woman who is older than you) while she comes close to hitting you, or a crazy Aussie bogan who has just got off the plane and does not have the slightest clue of the unwritten rules of the road. Yet jumps on a motorbike, surfboard in tow, heading to the beach.

But in the midst of all this chaos on the streets, I’ll see a Balinese woman gracefully carrying a tray with her offerings, wearing  her traditional dress and walking towards a temple to make her offerings up to the Gods. If I can’t learn and practice patience when I see things like this, then I don’t belong here.



Another thing I love about living on this Island is the gesture of placing your right hand on your heart when you greet someone or say thank you. This gesture means you are saying “hello” or “thank you” from “your heart”. I’ve become so accustomed to doing this now that I do it even when I’m among expats, and then I feel quite foolish.

Despite the crazy traffic, the language barriers, the rainy season, the humidity that comes with the rain, the tropical infections/diseases – impetigo, dengue fever, mosquitoes, rabies, typhoid, it’s all hear on this tropical paradise, and we’ve had our share of some of these in the last 9 months! Paradise or not, I’ve decide to stay, at least for now.

Below are some pictures of all the fun things we have been up to in the last 9 months, on kids PD days, local holidays, March break etc. Life is good.

Boys LOVE snorkelling, almost as much as they love skiing (if they still remember how to!

Taj enjoying a tropical fresh fruit juice

My new found interest



Taj’s first ocean dive at age 8 he dove 10 feet and Sachin dove 60 feet. Such troopers!
Morning ritual yoga near the water

Have to have gadgets on the beach!!!

Lots of sitting around and reflective time:)



I will never get tired of Bali sunsets with my boys


Free enterprise at its most naked

You can sell just about anything in Bali and make a living. At least according to this one chap I spoke to today. I’ve been seeing this guy on and off displaying his wares on a street that I must drive through if I have to go just about anywhere on this island-  Jalan Batu Belig.
So today I had the courage and time to go up to him and ask if he actually sells any of his items and he was surprised I even asked. He assured me that whenever he sets up shop he is cleaned out by the end of the day. He was quite eager to sell me one as well and was disappointed that I just wanted to chat and take a picture. In exchange for the picture he quizzed me on where I’m from and what I’m doing in Bali- which was a fair exchange I think.

20131112-215124.jpg I kid you not. He’s selling rifles on the side of the street. I asked him if it was legal in Bali and his response “only small bullet miss, so not do much harm not like America”. I had to smile at his reasoning and walked away feeling a ‘tad’ unsafe.

Next to him was a another friendly vendor who tried to get me to buy his wares- Sate (BBQ meat on a stick)- not sure if it was chicken/pig/goat/cow/dog/ –


Really, ‘some’ Balinese eat dog. It’s completely true. I’ve had numerous Balinese tell me this including my Nanny whom I trust. I’ve read some horrific stories on this. Yesterday, I had a bit of a troubling conversation with my very smiley and friendly house cleaner. She told me that her husband loves dog. To eat ! These were her  words “my swami (husband) loving dog too much, eating often in Warung” (a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, usually café. A warung is an essential part of daily life in Indonesia.). She even told me which Warung I can buy dog from. But what really got me was when she said “cannot let blood out of animal when killing, meat tasting bad then”. I asked, how is it possible to slaughter an animal and not let blood out of it. This was her answer “hit dog with stick or boil in plastic bag alive, or drown in plastic bag”. I asked again “alive” and she confirmed yes. At this point I wanted to throw-up.  Not to judge or anything, I find Balinese so into their ceremonies and spirituality, it’s ‘disturbing’ that “some” of them do this. I must add, according to what I’ve read there is stigma attached to eating dog and they don’t openly talk about it.

To change the subject, this is who I find in my bed some mornings when I wake up – like this morning.


My 8 year old still likes to sneak into my bed and snuggle. I’m not sure if it’s cute or annoying, especially when he wants to take a picture of me half asleep and with probably sleep in my eyes. I guess it depends on how much I’ve been kneaded in the ribs by his elbows or knees, while he stretches himself out comfortably. All I need on mornings such as today is a few wheatgrass shots followed by a fresh fruit plate before I hit the gym or go for a yoga class. Such tasty fresh fruit options here. So much to chose from. I feel so lucky to enjoy the abundance of choices.



After a start like this I generally hit the gym or yoga depending on my mood. Here are a couple of pictures of the lovely yoga eco village – Desa Seni – I practice yoga at.


The picture below is where the classes  are conducted – on a wooden bale under an alang alang style roof
It’s gotten unbearably hot (for me at least) over the last couple of weeks. It’s like doing yoga in air that’s twice as hot as in a Bikram class. But occasionally a lovely breeze will blow and I feel I’ve attained nirvana :). The joys of living in Bali.

I’ve become a true local, this is how I commute in Bali, for short distances. Most of the time with a helmet, but now that my helmet got swiped at the beach…I’m helmetless.

Notice the open drains on the side of the roads, in the picture below. They are very practical for when the rains arrive. But not practical at all for backing into with a car. I’ve had no accidents on my scooter so far, but 5 in my car! All I can say is that none were my fault. Really. Because of the narrow roads and crazy traffic, one cannot drive fast, so thankfully the impact of these accidents are not severe, most of the time, or at least in my 5 cases.
Yup that’s a surf board on the side. The rack would not pass safety standards back in Canada. But then most things won’t. It’s common to see surfers with 2 or 3 boards on the side of their scooter as well as carrying passengers. Actually, we do that too. When in Rome do as the Romans do 😉

Here’s a another beautiful sunset picture from this evening and one of my two munchkins at their bed time routine.

My 11 year old loves to make faces for the camera. Now he is in competition to get darker than me! Ha, won’t happen I’ve told him because I get dark brown from being in the sun for just a few minutes 🙁 . People (expats) ask me why I don’t like getting tanned. A bit of an ethnocentric approach, I think!

I’m yet to take pictures of Maurice surfing, snorkelling, diving, or doing the other many water sports he’s into. He most of all is enjoying life in Bail. Here M and S are heading off to the beach on a Saturday morning to surf. Heading out of our gang (gang is a small lane-way) and then onto the main street, the beach is just down our street. Can’t really walk, even short distances, because there are no side-walks and you’d probably step on dog poo and get hit by a motor bike or car.
I know the waves have been awesome when they are back after numerous hours with big smiles on their faces
While they are at the beach Taj tries to do flips off my shoulderIMG_3109

Finally here are couple of pictures of our pad;  front view from our gang (lane way) and inside view. BTW, our gang is called “Hiu” which means shark…appropriate for my family!

Never keep the toilet seat up in the tropics

This is why


After a tiring day of sourcing products for my new business and being stuck in Bali traffic I was greeted by a friendly dancing frog in my toilet bowl.

A few weeks ago I found this in my utility room:


Living in Bali is so interesting. Yesterday my car decided to stop during rush hour, right in the middle of one of the busiest roads in Bali- Jalan Sunset- it’s like a mini highway with three lanes on each side of the road and it’s ALWAYS busy, but crazy busy at rush hour ( driving in Bali is a science, that I dislike passionately, but have mastered very well). Not one of the 10 million motorbikes or cars on the road beeped at me. I put on my emergency lights, ran across the street to the first store I saw and asked for help. Still no beeps, commuters just drove around me, while peeps from the store pushed my car to the side of the street. Reason for car stopping- empty tank, and I checked the fuel guage twice to make sure I had enough petrol before I left…duh! I actually checked the temperature gauge and thought I was fine. I forget that everything is on the opposite side here in Bali, unlike back home. So the fuel gauge is on the left not right!

A very nice friendly Balinese guy who helped me push my car to the side took me on his motorbike to the closest petrol station (albeit driving on the wrong side of the road and on the side walk) and I was able to purchase two mineral bottles of petrol.


Voila! I was back on the road again-dripping in sweat, my heart racing and only 60 minutes later, but greatful for all the kindness and help. I’m yet to encounter a rude Balinese person. The few rude, angry people I’ve met so far are expats.

On the subject of sweat, something I am learning to live with and embrace!!!!!! (out of lack of choice).  I now know I am made up of more than 75% water, despite my junior high biology class teaching me otherwise. I love the heat, but humidity does not like me. When I’m not working or having fun, this is what I’m doing – rarely, of course 😉


I also have been doing a lot of this – watching the sunset at  Berawa beach down my street or from my balcony outside my bedroom. The sunsets are so beautiful and mystical here, that most evenings, I’m literally running to the beach in time to watch the sun go down. These are not the best pictures because I used my iphone. Next time I’m at Echo beach I’ll remember to take my camera and wide angle lens. The sunsets at Echo beach are stunning, even better than Berewa because of the way the shore line curves.





Hello Bali

This is what I woke up to, first day in Bali. Selamat Pagi (Good morning)


With this breathtaking view, my Jet-lag seemed to disappear. I had flown over 22 hours and was in transit in different airports for over 8 hours; my heart was heavy from leaving a life I loved and all my friends back in Canada…

…living in the present moment – Hello Bali

I’m only  about 4 month’s behind on blogging on my life in Bali, can’t believe I’ve been in Bali for close to 4 months!   I’ll post a few pictures below of some of the things that have happened or I’ve done in the last 4 months and then I’m heading to bed. I have an early morning yoga class to attend at Desa Seni -check out their site. This will probably make a lot of my Canadian buddies want to come and visit me – Yeaaah! I love doing yoga at this eco village, located in my hood – 5 minutes from my place. All classes are practiced in the open on a wooden bale surrounded by nature.  Such a treat for my senses, to have this luxury.

Ok, here are some pictures:

First picture is what I see every day – rice fields. Even though I live in the city of Canggu, there are still working rice fields along the way, when I’m dropping boys off to school or going to a yoga class…


Taj my 8 year old, proudly exhibiting his mosquito bites. He fell sick after 2 weeks of being in Bali and we though he had dengue because of how many bites he had. Thankfully not:)


My favourite tropical fruit plate with coconut water while I work and a picture of my first green smoothie I made in Bali. I’m SO thankful I brought my vitamix from Canada.

Fresh mangoes for my smoothie

IMG_2634Daily ritual, watching the sunset at the beach down our street at Pantai Berawa with our beloved borrowed dog – Bella.

We LOVE Bella

Boys were off school last week- end of first term. So we went snorkelling to Candidasa. No pictures of us snorkelling, because I forgot to take my waterproof case for my iPhone. But here are some from our trip.
First picture is of Mount Agung, the highest point on the island. The Balinese believe that Mount Agung is a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe. One legend holds that the mountain is a fragment of Meru brought to Bali by the first Hindus. The most important temple on Bali, Pura Besakih, is located high on the slopes of Gunung Agung



I’m convinced my boys are half fish. They LOVE the ocean and are really getting into all kinds of water sports.




My favourite thing to do these days…actually I’m working really hard on my new business. I’ll blog about this another day, after I launch it:) Off to bed now, Selamat tidur…oh yes, I forgot to mention that I’m learning Indonesian Bahasa and…ahh…I’ve got a long way to go.