Ketut does not remember exactly how old he is, but he remembers when he was very young hiding in the village during the fight against the Dutch for Indonesia’s independence. On that basis, he estimates he is around 75 years of age.
The father of four children and thirteen grandchildren, Ketut looked the picture of health for his age. His strong rippling muscles and top physical shape are a result of many years of toiling away in the rice fields. Every day he starts work at 8am and returns to his humble dwelling around 3pm and hardly takes a day off, except when there are ceremonies to attend in the local village.
His rice field is 28 are (2,800 sq metres) in size and he hires a tractor for Rp.10,000 per day to help him cultivate the rice. At different times his neighbours and grandchildren help him to produce around 500 kilos of rice in a good harvest, which he sells for Rp.6,500 per kg at today’s prices.
This works out to around Rp.10 million (approximately USD$1,000) per year, clearly not enough to live on, so his wife produces coconut oil that she sells at the local market and they also breed pigs and grow various types of fruit in their backyard.
It can be very challenging growing rice as Ketut regularly has trouble with pests destroying his crops. When money is hard to come by, the village community gets together and helps out in that wonderful Balinese way.
Visiting Ketut and his wife in their simple home I could see they were very happy and content with their life, always smiling and laughing and happy to share their rice and hard earned food with me. They did not want for anything more as they affirmed to me they had it all — family, faith, security and the good feeling of every day connecting with and receiving the blessings from the Gods.