A meeting with the Medicine Man – my fate untold by the Eat, Pray, Love man. Part 2
Ketut Liyer is a name some of you maybe familiar with. Or not. If you are familiar with the Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon then you will be.
I did not intentionally seek Ketut when I arrived in Bali. In fact, I didn’t even know the name of this infamous ‘medicine man’ before I came to Bali. But this man changed Elizabeth Gilbert’s life in Eat, Pray, Love and now that I stumbled upon him, I wanted to see for myself what all the hype has been about.
Take two. My friend and I arrived in Ubud early Friday morning purposefully to avoid the overbearing crowds. We learnt that lesson early on. Ketut is now world famous thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert who famously wrote about him in her book – mostly disaffected westerners now travelling to Bali by the droves to meet this spiritual man but also plenty of Hindu and Balinese too.
After waiting 30 minutes for the medicine man to finish a palm reading, my friend and I finally meet Ketut. It was like standing on centre stage – it was the very same setting that Julia Roberts graced in the film and there were more and more people dribbling into the compound to wait their turn.
To my right I notice about five or so copies of the book translated in a variety of foreign languages stacked high on a shelf. I also notice a large international air postage envelope sitting there too.
‘Is that from Elizabeth Gilbert?’ I wonder.
Ketut tells us to sit down. I learnt my lesson from the day before and made sure I wore more appropriate attire although I have to admit, as you will soon see and to Ketut’s delight, it wasn’t much better. We sit down cross-legged and Ketut asks us where we are from. After replying, he explains that he gets many visitors from Australia, which of course was no surprise to us.
Ketut directs his attention to my friend and travel companion Wendy. The spotlight was on her and I was happy to sit and watch. I do my best to absorb and take in my surroundings while at the same time, I grow more and more anxious with nervous but excited anticipation.
I’m staring at this man sitting directly in front of me. While Ketut was played by an actor in the film, he really is as toothless as described in the book. I think he had just one tooth projecting from the centre of his mouth and he has white whiskers protruding from his face.
He asks us whether we are familiar with the book Eat, Pray, Love and Elizabeth Gilbert to which we replied we were. Then he explains that he was written about in her book and that she has now met a lovely man. Ketut then says that his English is not so good but he has a letter he recently received from Elizabeth Gilbert that he asks Wendy to read out loud to him.
‘Oh my god, this can’t be happening,’ I think to myself. ‘How cool is this?’
I should have grabbed the flip camera right then from Wendy’s hand but I didn’t. Wendy was reading a short letter out loud to Ketut from Elizabeth Gilbert. Part of me was wishing it was me though as a tinge of jealously swept through me.
‘You bitch,’ I thought to myself. Don’t worry, I did tell her to her face afterwards.
I can see Gilbert’s beautiful hand writing as Wendy read the letter out loud. The letter was explaining how she heard that Ketut had not been well, she was sending her love and best wishes for a speedy recovery and that she was thinking of him. She also thanked him for showing and allowing her to open herself up to love again and for teaching her what love actually means.
‘My goodness, this was amazing,’ I thought. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. A mini sequel to Eat, Pray, Love was taking place right in front of my very eyes and my best friend was reading out her letter.
He then shows us the original manuscript of the book that Elizabeth Gilbert sent him just after it was first released. It was very old and worn with tattered edges but it looked like a prized possession.
This woman has appeared on Oprah for goodness sake –she was almost like royalty. This was a big deal ok?!
After Wendy’s reading, it was my turn for Ketut to tell me my fate. ‘Was there another letter from Elizabeth Gilbert,’ I wonder. ‘Anything I can read out loud?’
No such luck. After telling me I have ‘lips as swweeeetttt as hhoonneeyy’ and that we both are ‘verrryy pretttyy ladddiiieeeessss,’ Ketut reads my palm.
Watch the Medicine Man in action for yourself.
I am relieved to know that I will get married and have two children. It’s even more relieving to know I will be rich and live to 101. There is much to look forward too.
As we were leaving, Ketut gave us a small green flower to put in our hair and insisted we take a photo with him and then asked us to send him a copy later on.
“See you later alligator,” he says on our way out, a line that has become Ketut’s trademark since the book was released.
Thank you Ketut for providing me with hope and the safe knowledge that everything will be just fine. I shall relax in this knowledge and allow the universe to bring forth these wonderful things. It has been a memorable experience.