Rash: An Eminently Readable Bali Memoir
Who hasn’t fantasised about chucking in the rat race to live the dream on a tropical island? Well, writer Lisa Kusel, whose memoir Rash came out this summer, talked her teacher husband and young daughter into doing exactly that. In 2008, the trio abandoned a comfortable life in Sierra Nevada, California for a house with no walls above the soon-to-open Green School – a decision that almost destroyed Kusel’s marriage.
From their first arrival, onto a building site and a house with no walls but a myriad bugs, through to revelations about the teacher left unable to work by Green School’s groundbreaking bamboo design – and rapidly disposed of with three months’ salary, $600 and health insurance for a year – it’s a story that should be fascinating to anyone who’s ever worked in education and anyone new to Asia who’s contemplating Bali. And, best of all, Kusel is actually a writer, and it shows.
There’s a lot to love in this book. From the standoff between the teacher and the designer over whether desks for small children should have sharp corners to the “vortex”, a green electricity set-up that featured heavily in the school’s PR but was attached to neither generator nor turbine, to the sheer discomfort of living in an open house that’s also an attraction for visiting tour groups, it’s pretty damn eye-opening about what’s arguably the most heavily marketed school in the world.
There are occasions when Kusel’s naivety might have old Asia hands climbing the walls: surely inconveniences such as bug bites, poor road safety and second-hand smoke are to be expected in the developing world? And there are elements of her narrative which are specific to the sheer insanity of a brand new school on Bali – not to mention one opposite a Hindu cemetery where open cremations are held. But others will have you nodding along, and, if you’re plotting a year on Bali – let alone contemplating teaching at Green School – her book is an absolute must-read.
Rash, published by WiDo publishing, is available on Amazon Kindle for $6.17. Or you can buy it on BookDepository.com for $20.84, including free worldwide shipping to countries all over the world, including Indonesia (not to mention Aruba, Madagascar, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands).