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Written By love on Friday | 15:56

You see signs by the side of the road as you drive around Bali that read "Bakso Babi". An innocent-sounding little pharase but one that shows a sea change of attitudes on the island. No, it's not a nascent Balinese political party or a powerful independence slogan or even a cheer for a beloved local leader, rather it's a sign advertising pork meatballs, but in Bali such seemingly simple things are fraught with meaning - those little meatballs sold from carts trolling through neighbourhoods or waiting for peckish drivers are usually made from chicken or beef, meats that go down well with people of any religious faith, especially muslims from the rest of indonesia. Certainly the Balinese (90% practise their own fascinating version of Hinduism) have always loved pork. Just look at the babi guling joints all over the island where you can get the succulent and richly seasoned roasted young pork. But a vendor putting 'Bakso Babi' on his cart has found a subtle but clear-cut way of saying I'm Balinese, I'm not from java. And the Balinese are there munching away in support.

Called "Krama Bali", loosely "Bali for the Balinese", the recent uptick in declarations of a more aggressive Balinese identity are notable. The Balinese normally prize a form of modesty and restraint that some mistake for politeness verging on meekness. so when they say to the rest of indonesia 'you can't eat our meatballs' there's a lot more to it than what gets sold by the side of the road. Although it remains a remarkably tolerant society - there is no reported religious strife on the island - The Balinese can't help but feel threatened by forces in the rest of indonesia.

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