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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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UBUD, Bali, Sept. 9.—I am told by Mrs. Oka that because of the increase in population there are now two million people in Bali and the authorities there are aware that there has been a deterioration in their living standards. Most of the people can no longer afford good materials.

The women are doing many jobs they never did in the past, and I am told this is because they pay more attention to detail and don't leave the job whenever there is a feast or a banquet. Another reason, however, is because of sheer necessity and perhaps, as in other societies, they will work for less wages than men.

I have seen women working in the rice fields with heavy picks. I have seen them on roads carrying for long distances two or even three heavy stones on their heads. I am told they help build houses—and I wonder if the men are not becoming idle.

Mrs. Oka thinks the island needs new industries. One thing is certain: they cannot absorb the present increase in population.

This is a tropical island and the walls which surround houses and villages are made of mud with thatch on top to protect them from the rain. Nevertheless, the rain plays havoc with them and there is an almost constant job of rebuilding to be done.

There is great family feeling here and even a poor man will crowd a house for each son into his small compound. There is privacy from the outside world but not much within the family circle. This, of course, adds to the danger of tuberculosis, which is the great killer here.

In the afternoon yesterday we were invited to visit the dancers who had been to America and who live nearby. We were told they had a little difficulty readjusting on their return to village life. Everyone had known them before their U.S. visit and took their art for granted and they had none of the admiration they had been accustomed to on their nine-month trip. Now they are too old to dance and younger girls will take their places.

On this island a village boy marries at 17, a city boy around 23, and girls may be married as young as 13 years old. Early marriages were general during the Japanese occupation because the Japanese looked for unmarried girls.

We visited the elephants' cave yesterday where some old baths have been unearthed in what they think is an old monastery dating back to the 12th century.

The public baths were being enjoyed by many small boys, and I also looked at the women's bath and found it very interesting. It has only a mud bottom and only two pipes that send out rather feeble trickles of water.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Oka, Mrs. [ index ]
         Indonesian teacher; travel guide during ER's visit to Bali
  • Ubud (Bali, Indonesia) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 9, 1955

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Nevada State Journal, , SEPTEMBER 10, 1955

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
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  • Black, Allida M. (Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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  • Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

Published with permission from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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Transcription created from a published My Day column instance. Nevada State Journal, SEPTEMBER 10, 1955, page 4