The Bali Police

I sensed the stress in my 12 year olds voice when the Polisi started whistling.  ‘Dad we need to stop’.  I ran away on my 50cc scooter and then I got caught, stopped and accompanied back to the police stop.  I sensed the stress of my daughter when I jumped back on the bike and accompanied the Polisi back to his corner office.  As we drove back. I told her to grab my wallet and empty the contents into her undies.  I’m all about being a good example for my kids but I have a weakness.  I have a few actually, I’m old but I’m very immature, this is fun.  It was funny when I went into the police office and my daughter walked off in the opposite direction walking like a cowboy.  She had in her pants a lot of money.  If you can’t picture that, imagine me trying not to smile in the Polisi office as I was interviewed.
I’m all about teaching my kids through example.  Talk is cheap.  BUT this is not like the smoking parent telling his kids not to smoke.  Among many things I want to teach my kids, I want them to respect authority.  I can’t share that lesson here in this country, not right now anyway.  This is a well travelled parent navigating their way through a cultural time bomb.  This is a dad who is about to get a fine, for which there will be no receipt, a kind of open your wallet and see how much money you got, type of fine.  The kind of fine you get when you are in Bali, just because that is what sometimes happens on this side of the world.
There is a way of avoiding Police confrontation in Bali.  You catch a ‘Taksi’.  You get a driver. Even better you stay in the hotel.  On a positive note I showed my first born child to smile, to be courteous, and be respectful in the face of Indonesian authority.  I also taught her the art of paying the smallest possible ‘Tourist Fine’. I believe these are great life lessons.  It wasn’t a fine because I received no receipt.  It can’t be called a bribe because it cost me just 9US dollars, although that was $4 more than I wanted to pay.  The price of a Burger.  In many countries running from the police (in my case, not quite hearing them whistle) can be a life changing event, in Bali it’s a ‘thing thats likely to happen’ inconvenience.  If you are wearing a helmet, wearing a shirt, not wearing a Bintang tank top, have a licence and your bike has registration papers you are generally safe.  If you have money in your wallet, get pulled over, or chased down, you will be issued a no receipt, type of fine.  Some cultures call that Bribe.  It pays to have an empty wallet.  It pays to accept it with a smile and an apology and then get on with your day.
Today as I sit in Singapore having left Bali just a few days ago, I can’t help but feel like a part of me was left in Bali.  Perhaps it was, perhaps part of me was left with the Polisi.  Bali Love. J

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