Although never a pearl wearer in the past, having my fashion sense indelibly carved out during the height of the hippy era, I now don a set of these freshwater pearls, grey in colour and discreet in size, grown somewhere in the waters of Lombok and sold to me by Dr Pearl.
Dr Pearl is one of those characters who wanders up and down the sandy beach of Sanur, Bali. Commerce is fairly low-key in Sanur and so a travelling beach salesman is not entirely unwelcome, even if the senses are more keenly fastened on a cold Bintang beer with a grilled Mahi Mahi fish steak or passing the time aimlessy gazing at the distant view of Nusa Penida across the water. Barefooted and small of stature, he appears out of the blue, double knotting as he talks, reaching into his small bags of freshwater pearls, strong cotton in hand, twisting, knotting, adding a pearl, and knotting anew. He is a keen salesman and negotiations might take place over a day or a week. He always knows your travel movements and so is not in a hurry to finalise the deal.
He remembers you from year to year, and greets you like an old friend. I always buy exactly the same necklace, in the same colour, each time. His recollection of the price I paid last time, however, is always much higher than mine. His wife and four children live in Lombok, which is not so far by hydrofoil for the average cashed up tourist, but far enough by the old slow boat for the locals. Dr Pearl returns home only a few times a year: his life is firmly entrenched in this small strip of Sanur Beach. If you see Doctor Pearl, give him a chance. He knows when you aren’t interested but always recognises the glint of desire in a woman’s eye.
For Rosalie and Helen, accomplice and witmess to pearl purchasing.