Delicate question re left hand

Dec 25th, 2002, 09:38 AM
Karen Hahn
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Delicate question re left hand

I have a somewhat delicate question regarding the Balinese association of the use of left hand. In less than two weeks, we leave on a 17 day Grand Circle tour of Bali. My problem? I am left handed! Have been since birth. I do everything with my left hand (well not everything, evidentally- not the function that I keep reading about, that the Balinese use their left hands for!) The problem is, I eat with my left hand. I have been trying to use my right hand for at least that purpose, but it is pretty awkward. I'm a senior citizen (I won't give my age, but my husband will turn 90 during our trip) and I'm a pretty old dog to teach a new trick! I will TRY, but I will probably forget. What will happen if I should accidentally use my left hand in eating. I have no problems with handshakes, and that sort of thing, but eating is going to be difficult.
What do left handed Balinese do? Any siggestions short of eating only in our hotel room or tying my left hand behind my back?
Dec 25th, 2002, 11:36 AM
Sarah Rey
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Don't worry! These points of 'politeness' and customs are often exagerated. If you are left handed then that is life. Don't disrupt your vacation worrying about it. Sure, you should do everything to respect customs but at the same time you should not put too much upon 'yourself'.

A story: In the last century Queen Victoria entertained several guests from 'her empire'. At dinner one guest when served the soup instead of using the spoon picked up the bowl and started to drink from it. For a few seceonds everyone looked on astonished. Queen Victoria then calmly picked up her own bowl and drank from it. Needless to say everyone else put down their spoons and drank from the bowl. When finished she smiled and said 'delicious soup tonight'.

You obviously care about doing the right thing, that is what is important, but don't panic about it, use your left hand. Anyone who did notice would probably conclude you are simply left handed. Simple.

I have had Arabs point their feet at me and frequently see Thais patting their kids on the head. These point are oftem wildly exagerated.

True, you are a 'guest' in their country, but remember it works 2 ways, you are 'a guest'.

Have a great time..don't worry.
Dec 25th, 2002, 11:36 AM
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Don't wory you can still eat your big macs in Kuta with both hands..

Acctually there well be no problems they are used too tourists and are accepting people..
Dec 25th, 2002, 01:07 PM
Maureen Murphy
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You and your husband have a wonderful time and don't give your left hand another exciting to still have the desire and energy to travel into your 'middle earlies!!!!"
Dec 28th, 2002, 12:14 PM
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I'm not sure if I explained the deal about the left hand. According to several books, especially "Culture Shock" it says that toilets are the squat type and that there is a little bucket of water along side of the hole in the floor. The Indonesians use the water in the bucket in place of toilet paper (which does not exist) The left hand ONLY is used for this function. Therefore, it is considered "dirty" and is NEVER used for eating, shaking hands, or touching another person. Being a southpaw, I will try very hard to use my left hand for eating. I can do so clumsily and will have to remind myself constantly. I sure don't want to be beheaded should I forget!!!! (I do hope that the anonymous poster above was attempting to be humorous!)
Dec 29th, 2002, 04:30 PM
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Karen.. Sarah, is correct about books exageratating customs.. I too have seen Arabs eat with either hand and sceen many people controdict thier supposed culture and laws.. (people regularly Jaywalk in Singapore)..

the book "culture shock" can be a bit too hard core.. and just explains traditionsl rural ways of life...

anyways where are you going in bali and what kind of tour is it?

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