What's in a name?

April 1, 2017 Apr 1, 2017
   XF 18-55, Ubud
In the family there were also four levels. Children had their titles: Wayan, eldest born, Nyoman, Made and Ketut, the fourth.

What happens with a fifth child? I asked Nyoman Kaler.

You begin again, he answered. Colin McPhee, A House in Bali.

I thought it a coincidence that my first contacts in Bali were all named Wayan. But it wasn't a coincidence. Wayan is the most common name in Bali because a child is named according to birth order and Wayan is the name for the first child.

There are alternative names for the first born, such as my airport driver's name Gede, Putu and the girl's-only name Ni Luh, but Wayan is most popular. So when you meet someone from Bali chances are their name is Wayan.

The second child is usually called Made, but Nengah, Ngurah and Kadek also work.

The third-born child is called Nyoman or Komang and the fourth born is Ketut.

After four children, which is a lot for a Balinese family, the names re-start with Wayan, though the fifth child might be called Wayan Balik (Wayan "again"), and so on. Oh yeah, there are no family names in Bali. And pronunciation is easy, names are pronounced just as they are spelled, like Italian.

Speaking of birth order, it is widely believed to have an impact on psychological development. I'm not implying the Balinese subscribe to this idea, more likely naming by birth order serves as a guide to inheritance issues. Or maybe it's just one less decision to make. But it's a curious and oh-so-human example of seeing significance in something that isn't. We believe it because we want it to be true. Birth order theory has been widely studied but no effect has ever been shown. Nevertheless the belief remains, what some call a zombie theory. (See also astrology, religion, etc.)

Today was the first day the heat got to me. Oppressively hot and sticky. I walked into town, I window shopped, I politely turned down the endless entreaties one gets for a scooter-taxi ride - these are mild, almost lethargic entreaties, not the in-your-face Turkish come-ons - I ate lunch, then I returned to my house and, unusual for me, I took a nap.

Sml    Med    Big
Nasi goreng breakfast (for Paul)      
Nasi goreng breakfast (for Paul)      
Nasi goreng breakfast (for Paul)      
On a scooter      
On a scooter      
On a scooter