Taking your first trip to Bali? You may be a little bit confused by fact that every local you meet introduces him or herself as one of four things.
I remember my first trip to Bali like it was yesterday. Not knowing any better, I first based myself in Kuta (never to be repeated). Disappointingly, the only interactions I had with locals there involved saying ‘no’ over and over on the street when asked if I wanted to buy X, Y, Z tourist thing or ‘yes’ over and over when asked if I wanted another Bintang. A few days in, I got a tip to go to a magical place called the Bukit Peninsula, where the famous Uluwatu breaks.
Settling in to my villa in Bingin, the local Balinese people were much more open and friendly than the tourist-hardened locals of Kuta. I met many people, had many great conversations and cemented my love for the Balinese people.
One thing perplexed, however. In just under a week, I must have met six different ‘Ketuts’; roughly 50% male and 50% female. Odd, I thought, but I supposed it was just a very common name.
Thirteen trips to Indonesia later (nine to Bali), I have learned that all Balinese people – both male and female – are simply named one of four names, based on the order of their birth:
Wayan (why-yun), first born
Made (ma-day), second born
Nyoman (yo-mun), third born
Ketut (ke-tuut, fourth born
Guess what happens if a couple has five children? We go back to Wayan and repeat the cycle. Isn’t that amazing? Yet, this causes no confusion to the Balinese people whatsoever.
NOTE: this naming convention applies only to Balinese names, not all Indonesian names. Javanese, Sumatran, etc. do not follow this protocol.
Now you know when you go!