I realised, after I had been walking around Ubud’s main street asking where I could find the medicine man Ketut Liyer, that I had been pronouncing his name wrong; ‘Ketut Liar” instead of ‘Ketut Leeyer’. It might have been an appropriate pronunciation, however, for the man made famous in the Eat Pray Love book.
I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read the book. For those who’ve been in Bali the last few months you’ll be aware of the hype and buzz that’s been surrounding the shooting of the Eat Pray Love movie. Starring Julia Roberts and produced by Brad Pitt, it’s set to be a blockbuster hit next year and when it’s released, tourism to Ubud and Bali is likely to increase ten-fold. Filming took place in Ubud and the Bukit and I actually went along to the extras casting in Sanur.
Eat Pray Love is written by Elizabeth Gilbert and is a memoir of her trip around the world after her divorce- from Italy to eat and India to pray, then finally to Bali where she finds love.
Friends of mine who’ve visited Ubud all have photos of the Ketut Liyer sign and I decided to pay him a visit, particularly as I have just had a motorbike accident. I thought it would perhaps be a healing experience for me.
When I walked into his home, Ketut, an old man now, was sitting on his front steps talking in Indonesian to a group of young Balinese boys and girls. I couldn’t understand, but it looked as if he was tutoring them. He ushered me to come and sit with him on the floor and explained to me that he would read my face, my palm and my back. At this moment a lady from Holland and a guy from Spain with stars tattoed all over his body, came in to watch and wait their turn.
“You are very very pretty” he said. “You’re lips are as sweet as sugar…”
Ketut sat cross-legged and grinned at me revealing his toothless smile. He read my face and told me he could tell I was very smart from the lines on the bridge of my nose and that I was impatient with love but that it’s OK because it would come soon.
He then proceeded to read my palm, telling me I am very very lucky, that I would live for 100 years, be very rich and successful, I would be married once for the rest of my life, that another man would come along but I should be careful and say “You are not my cup of tea”. This is paraphrasing but you get the idea.
I thanked him for my reading, took some photos of his signed copy of Eat Pray Love and got ready to give him my donation. It’s a donation, but usually with healers it’s expected that you give 50,000 maximum. Ketut, however, asked me for 250,000 Rupiah. Reluctantly with people watching I handed over 200,000.
This is the interesting part. I decided to stay and watch the next lady’s reading and he opened with the line “You are very pretty. You’re lips are as sweet as a sugar…” Dejavu? He proceeded to say, not just a similar thing to what he told me, but the exact same words. Like he had rehearsed a speech. The lady, getting slightly annoyed, said “…let me guess, a man will come along but he’s not my cup of tea.” Ketut replied, “Yes!”. Unless we had the exact same hands, to have the same reading is just not possible.
We left slightly annoyed with the whole experience, but the positive thing was we could have a good old laugh about it over an Arak Madu afterwards. I called my friend who had been there a week earlier and was happy with her reading, “By any chance did he tell you your lips were as sweet as sugar, you’d live till a hundred years and you’ll be very very rich?” Yeah about that…..