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Friday, April 30, 2004
  I stand corrected and spammed
Firstly an apology. On April 20th, I reminisced about tasty Brit sweets. For those wishing to indulge in Curly Wurlys, Rolos, Toffos, Bountys ~ I seem to have problems with pluralizing these ~ gobstoppers, aniseed balls, penny chews and sherbert dabs, I gave some links to various e-commerce businesses which mail suchlike worldwide.

As I believe in a free press and the right of reply, I must now grovel and publish the following:
Hi,
I found a link to our website britishcandy.com on your blog today and I thought that you would like to know that we are based in the UK and deliver Worldwide as you seem to be under the impression that we are a USA company.
We are currently giving away sticks of seaside rock with every order. I hope that you will visit us again and find some sweets to enjoy!
Kind regards,
Mark Leak
www.Britishcandy.com

There you go Mark. That's two plugs I've given you. Can I have a stick of Kuta rock please?

And my first spam? A deceased dictator's mistress wants me to have 30% of US$15,500,000.00 (which) "was disguised to beat the Nigerian security".

Disguised as what? Rupiah?
 

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11:07 am |
Thursday, April 29, 2004
  I was in Harmoni today.
Well, first I caught the train that runs from Bogor to Kota. Rp.1,000 and a mere 10 minutes from South Jakarta to Juanda station. Comfortable? Well, sort of. I had a seat and a pleasant breeze from the open doors which afforded views of the shacks lining the tracks. Travelling cattle class ain't too bad if there's room for the peripatetic peddlers of cheap paraphernalia, tahu (bean curd), cigarette lighters with floating naked ladies inside and shoe laces. Today we were mercifully free of one-legged single mums screeching to a backdrop of over-amplified dangdut songs. Don't get me wrong; I'm a soft touch for all victims of life but I'm also a music lover. I generally give some small change in order to buy a bit of aural peace.

From the station, I strolled cheerfully through the back streets of Pasar Baru observing the extant Dutch and Chinese buildings, several still in fine condition. It's nice to walk.

But, of course, I'd gone in the wrong direction and had to backtrack. And the rains came with enough wind to flip my new pocket umbrella inside out ~ or should that be downside up? And with the rains came the motorcyclists to park on the pavements thus forcing foolish pedestrians like me into the gutters which were, this being Jakarta, rapidly overflowing.

By the time I arrived at my destination I was sopping and definitely dischuffed. But the meeting was very harmonious.

All in all, a yin/yang day which means, I suppose, that my title is apt.
 

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3:38 pm |
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
  (Un)Common Courtesy
The Reveller, I think kindly, describes this blog as 'wry and humorous'. However, it's difficult to be ironic or funny when things go awry.

There was a power cut this morning in our street this morning because a cable was being replaced. Essential work, fine, no problem except ...

Except that PLN didn't inform us of the scheduled work. No big deal today, other than a crashing computer, but seven years ago when our street was cut off without prior notice in order to effect repairs to the community's night watchmen's post, I stubbed my toe in the sudden dark and dropped the baby. It could have been worse.

Too often folks do not pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions. As a public utility, PLN has the duty to inform the public of a break in service. And if that isn't enshrined in their code of practice, is it too much to ask for some common courtesy?
 

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12:40 pm |
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
 

Blog Has Moved

Link to the same post in the new blog: We don't inherit the Earth.

We don't inherit the Earth. We borrow it from our children, so I was sufficiently angry about the cause of the bus tragedy in West Sumatra to spend some time investigating who's doing what and where to promote sustainable, non-destructive management of our rain forests.
Links to some of these organisations have been posted on the right. 

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8:24 pm |
  Wrong number
I was rung by Telkom this morning.
 

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10:31 am |
Monday, April 26, 2004
  'Twas the beast killed the beauty
I watched Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits for the first time ever on Sunday night. Young Kevin's parents just had to have the latest gadgets, ultimately to their cost.

Every Monday in the Jakarta Post, Zatni Arbi has a column on the latest computerised gadgets, such as phones with which you can play games, take pictures, send e-mails, calculate how much you've saved by doing everything on the move, calculate the calories in that burger or beer in front of you and, I almost forgot, make phone calls.

Today's article was actually of interest to me as I needed some ink for my printer. He cites a recent survey (which) found that the ink cartridge of some models could cost much more than the printer itself.

Finding myself in Jl. Sudirman, I took the still-ever-so-comfortable busway, I even had a seat, down to Ratu Plaza to check out the computer stores for an HP black cartridge. Prices ranged from Rp.280,000 to Rp.220,000, only a little less than a colour cartridge. Obviously I went for the lower extortionate price. And got a bonus of a mug and an entry into a 'free' draw for a holiday for 3 at Disneyland ~ which one, they didn't know. I argued that I'd prefer a discount or possibly a second mug instead of the prize draw. I've only once won a raffle which was in aid of a children's hospital. It was a giant teddy bear, pink as I recall, which I gave straight back.

Why must we fill our lives with tat? I didn't have a choice of cartridge as they aren't, even for similar models, standardized. What's wrong with straight talking and straight selling?

With renewed Christian-Muslim violence in Ambon, the bus tragedy in West Sumatra has been relegated, no doubt to the inside pages. Illegal logging has been blamed, generally with the connivance of the local government.
The survivors are in hospital in Lubuk Sikaping. Interestingly, this is going to be the centre of an eco-tourism project with the additional benefit of increased local expenditure and employment opportunities. Later this year, Hotel Rimbo (= hutan = jungle) will open. Initiated and funded by an Australian friend with his local wife, this project has prevented further deforestation. How? By them saying that if they ever hear a chainsaw, the project will immediately cease. I'll be posting a link to their website once it is in hyperspace, hopefully within the next month. (interested folks are welcome to write to me.)

And now, back at the fleapit, tonight I watched a DVD of the original King Kong. It's been 'colorized' which, perhaps unusually, I consider an enhancement and a worthwhile addition to my library. Did you know that the Beast was captured in the jungle of an island south-west of Sumatra?

But, that was then. There ain't no jungle now.
 

postID=108299843593696846

6:07 pm |
Sunday, April 25, 2004
  A nice lie-in

Today has seen a nice lie-in with thoughts of how I can mess around with the code behind this blog. Today has also been a day of erratic connections and problems with various e-mail accounts. My friend the Reveller has had similar problems.

I have four e-mail accounts and my ISP is Indosat. He probably has more accounts but uses Indo.net. Some send but do not receive and some receive but do not send. If you’ve had similar problems, write to me; I’ll read your missive but I’ll reply from another address.

Isn’t it time our ISPs paid some attention to the needs of their paying customers rather than their profit-taking shareholders?

One thing I have achieved is to paste in the code for a site counter. It’s probably not the one I’ll stick with but, as I’ve said before, I’m on a steep learning curve with this posting to the Net stuff. Still, if you’re reading this then the adage that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks just ain’t true.

I must also take this opportunity to thank the Living In Indonesia and All Quiet In The East Stand sites for adding a permanent link to my ramblings.

Occasionally I want to rant. The front page of today’s Jakarta Post has pre-empted me on one issue, the lack of playspaces for children and adults alike. Right on Stevie; unlike our ‘public servants’, you’re not blind to the reality.

Finally, the saddest news for me today concerns the bus disaster in West Sumatra. Local residents will be aware that an ALS bus traveling from Medan to Jakarta was swept away by a landslide on Friday night.

Rapacious rapists of the local forests with probably few or no local ties are totally responsible, as they were responsible for the devastation of Bukit Lawang this same rainy season.

ALS is one of the few long-distance bus companies in this country to provide a measure of security ~ their drivers travel with, rather than on, speed. My brother-in-law returned to Medan with ALS last Monday. It’s possible, but largely immaterial, that he went on this same bus. I know Panti where the 13 survivors, out of 57, are hospitalized. It’s a small friendly town, a centre for the marketing of local produce including some very fine coffee.

These people are not responsible. I hope the authorities arrest the arrogant, greedy bastards who are and, apart from bringing the full might of the judicial process against them, confiscate their ill-gotten ‘gains’.

I’m an eternal optimist, but …………
 

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7:00 pm |
Saturday, April 24, 2004
  Classic, quirky or crap?
Some years ago, my English son and I had a Saturday night to kill in Manado and decided to go to the movies. Our choice was determined by my comment that any movie with David Carradine as its star was bound to be interesting.
Bearing in mind that Steve McQueen’s debut on the big screen was The Blob, and that Johnny Depp was teen victim number whatever in the original Nightmare On Elm Street, I was keen to display some parental guidance.
W’aduh, this was a pile of poo-poo; it was the worst edited portrayal of marionettes I have ever watched, and I’m including Aliens Ate My Zombie Stepmother. in my list of How I Wasted My Time In A Fleapit .

And I haven’t been to a cineplex with my son since then.

I’m prompted to write this because three actors have new, apparently reasonably watchable, films on release this month. Your task, before checking your answers online and buying the pirated DVDs, is to match the quotes to these famous thespians.

A. David Carradine

B. Johnny Depp

C. Malcolm McDowell

1. "I have done a lot of crap, but crap is what you tend to be offered as a working actor ... And I like to keep working. I love it more now than I did when I was getting better parts. So, I don't get as good parts, so? It doesn't really matter. All I ever wanted was to be as good as you can be. I never wanted to be a star."

2. “I've created four Categories of (his) movies as follows: Totally Awesome Movies, Pretty Damn Good Movies, Worth Watching, But -- , and Truly Awful Movies. (In regards to that last rating, of course I don't mean (he) gives a truly awful performance in these movies, but only that the movies themselves are pretty pathetic.) I'm not even going to warn you about violence, sex, or foul language. If you object to any of those three items, you're watching the wrong movies!”

3. “He has a quicksilver, ungraspable quality as an actor - indeed some of his performances are little more than turns, or decal transfers laid upon films into which he is barely integrated.”
 

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12:45 pm |
Friday, April 23, 2004
  I’m confused.
Nothing new in that, my friends would say.

Although I’m a Brit abroad I would class myself as a citizen of the world. I abhor racism and jingoism in all its many forms yet find myself metaphorically putting folks in boxes based on their speech patterns and body language. For example, it seems relatively easy to tell Javanese and Bataks apart.

Yet, I can’t agree with ‘er indoors who regrets the Golkar choice of Wiranto as their Presidential candidate because, in not choosing Akbar Tanjung, there won’t now be any candidates from Sumatra. Being proud of one’s heritage is one thing. Being jingoistic is its polarity.

Unless you are a soccer fan with a satellite TV dish, you won’t have heard what Ron Atkinson said about the Chelsea captain, Marcel Desailly, "He is what is known in some schools as a f***ing lazy, thick n****r." Big Ron is now a social pariah. He may not be a racist per se but as a pundit he has pandered to those who are.

Reference to skin colour is offensive, however it’s expressed. It’s why I bridle at the “Hello misters" and being described as a bulé (whitey); I am identified and, presumably stereo-typed, by my skin colour.

Many TV ads exhort Indonesian lasses to use skin whitener lotions. The payoff is generally a handsome hunk of mixed parentage, by which I refer to his having one Caucasian parent. The unspoken message is of ‘class’; if you’ve got a dark skin, then you’re poor, a peasant farmer perhaps. Is success in life, however it’s defined, really only skin deep?

Back in Ye Jolly Olde England, “Morris men, mummers and people dressed in chainmail fighting dragons will be out in force on ….. village greens today.” It’s St. George’s Day. Here in Jakarta, the Eastern Promise Pub/Restaurant is offering a special fare of Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding or Roast Pork with Crackling. Or a curry buffet, which I suspect, and hope, more aptly reflects the multi-culturalism of Britain today.

Finally, I was sufficiently intrigued by an advertisement in today’s Jakarta Post for a Teacher Training Coordinator to check out the website of the Foundation for Excellence in Education which “believe(s) that an effective educational environment is inclusive. (The Foundation) promotes equality across race, gender, religion and ethnic groups. Differences are encouraged and appreciated.”

So, I beg to differ from my fellow Englanders. After all, it was St. Michael who supposedly slew the dragon ~ see Revelation 12:7-10 or a nice picture here and here.

Still, today is a special day. As it's William Shakespeare’s birthday, and just to add to my confusion, I’ll sign off with a couple of quotes by the immortal bard from Richard II.

“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

“That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.”
 

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1:46 pm |
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
  Autumnal leaves stop train services
Actually, there’s a different excuse here in Jakarta because autumn doesn’t happen. And neither, come to think of it, do the train services.
But rain at the outset of the dry season does.
Now, here’s a prediction; tomorrow’s (today’s?) headline in the Jakarta Post
will NOT be about the Golkar presidential candidate, but about how this well-run city of ours came to a complete standstill today.
Each of us has a different story about how we failed to get home; I failed to get home from D’s Place. My excuse ~ honest dear ~ is that there were no taxis between 5.15 and 9.45, and that one, of course, didn’t want to use his meter. Feel my socks ~ "Yuk, they’re always wet. Not true,dear." ~ argue with my taxi driver who figures he can stiff me for twice the fare which was twice the fare we had agreed at D's Place which was twice the usual fare.

But I did get home for Trista and Ryan’s Wedding (to be continued) on TV7. So, that was alright then. If it wasn’t for the helicopter overhead and the country and western singer and the bridesmaids’ tears. And mine.

And I still don’t know who got the bride’s bouquet. Ah, the suspense is …….
 

postID=108256447453890352

11:20 pm |
  A load of balls
As I can’t rent a tux my size, I don’t attend. Obviously others do. Also, I’m not sure what BWA stands for. Otherwise, no comment.

-----Original Message-----
From: L. T. [mailto:l.t@at-indo.com]
Sent: 20 April 2004 09:15
To: l.t@attglobal.net

Subject: St George's Day Ball - Special Announcement

Dear Members of St George and friends,
It saddens me to advise you all that the St. George's Day Ball for 2004 has had to be cancelled for lack of numbers attending. ……… this probably wont come as any surprise, but as a great disappointment to the committee and I am sure to those who had registered to attend and had paid (refunds in full will be available).

From the replies that I did receive from my last circular, its clear that the general theme is "We're all Balled out!". Certainly there are less expats here today than there were 5 years ago, plus there are far more avenues of entertainment here today than there was 5 years back. Plus the comment was made that it is believed that peoples disposable income is getting less and less, yet the balls continue unabated.

It was also commented and suggested that the English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh societies should perhaps look at having one main ball per year and for want of a title, calling it the British Ball. This is already being discussed by the society heads and the BWA as we look at 2005 in light of the trends from 2003/2004.

L. T.
President
The Royal Society of St George
Jakarta Branch  

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2:47 pm |
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
  An Apology
I owe my mate, Del Boy, an apology.
On Friday last, I quoted from his book Culture Shock-Jakarta and described Jakarta as a city of “wacky charm”.
He wrote back, “But it's ‘wonky’ not ‘wacky’!!!!”
Whoops, it must have been the baccy.
And that’s another free plug.
 

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4:44 pm |
  Don’t forget the Fruit Gums, Mum.
I’m sure I’m not alone among long term expats in delighting in the occasional taste of home. My infrequent visitors from Blighty are asked to bring Marmite, a hunk of stilton (cheese, in case you didn’t know) and a couple of cans of Real Ale.

Now, I do know that Carrefour occasionally has Vegemite ~ which is no substitute, that Hero has a reasonable range of cheeses and that the Goose and Durian, the British Embassy social club, has Ruddles, but I’m not going to traipse across town just to tantalize my taste buds.

There are sufficient reminders of ‘home’ in the local warung where I buy my Ardath cigarettes and Walls ice cream. I listen to the Walls vendors pass by on their converted becaks (tricycles) ~ which I thought the city government had banned from Jakarta’s streets ~ and recall something similar from my youth. “Try me and stop one”’ was their never-to-be-forgotten cry.

My wife uses Domestos but not Surf ~ sorry, Souf as it’s pronounced on TV. My kid likes Imperial Leather soap and Pepsodent. He wonders where the yellow went.

Then there are the very special delights, the surprises which were even treats back home. I think in particular of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange which arrived in one piece last year. Was it the taste which made it special or the packaging? I think it’s always been the ritual opening; the box open at one corner to show a golden globe. Extract it and knock the bottom firmly on a solid surface, peel off the sticker at the top and gently unwrap the thick, not cheap, orange foil to reveal the segments and aroma of orange chocolate.

Ah, abstinence surely makes the heart grow fonder. But as from now, it’s going to be its absence because Terry’s of York will shortly become Kraft-Terry’s of Sweden or Slovakia. Now this is serious enough news for the Guardian to use as its leader ~ which you can read here.

This will generate further radio phone-ins, pressure groups, petitions, boycotts and the like, and not because we Brits have a sweet tooth, are xenophobic and anti-globalisation. Consider the names Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree and Terry. They are not just synonymous with sweets, but are part of the social fabric of Britain. They campaigned against slavery, for prison reform and, more practically, built model estates with pleasant surroundings to house their workers. As well as its Foundation and Charitable Trust, Rowntree continues with its Reform Trust to fund organisations which, whilst worthy, don’t fall within the remit of the Charities Foundation.

And now I’m salivating. If you are too, then feast your eyes on the delights offered by British Candy.com, Posh Nosh, British FanFayre and Yummy Co. which "offers over 200 nostalgic candies from the British Isles." Unfortunately, these e-commerce businesses are either in the States or Canada, but I’ve still come out in pimples. 

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4:16 pm |
Monday, April 19, 2004
  Why blog?
Thanks Bart for the plug in your Indonesian Expat Newsletter; I wonder how many of your 4,000+ subscribers will read this and wonder what kind of egomaniac I am to put my thoughts out there for all and sundry to read.

Well, maybe I'm a bit like you and the Reveller. Other than the fact that you both spend a lot more time in bars than I do, alas a lack, I'm a long-term expat with an Indonesian family to support who lives in Jakarta. Like you both, I have an interest in the Internet and its power to communicate.

I also believe that it has the potential to educate. Potential ~ ah. Now isn't that the one positive word we all use to describe the country we now call home?

Certainly the telecommunications industry has potential. That's one reason why the counting of the votes in the now not-so-recent election is taking so long. According to today's Jakarta Post, Rp.200 billion ($23.2 million) has been spent for establishing the computer-based ballot counting. Unfortunately, some local polling stations submitted handwritten results, possibly because their areas lack electricity, and others used a software programme other than Excel. Yep, there's certainly potential to improve the process for the next election in 2009.

Like most expats here, I can only be an observer; there's little scope for involvement but there's certainly potential, whoops, to initiate ideas. We'd be arrogant, even colonial, to impose change.

So, there's my theme. As for my motivations, well I've got family and friends outside the country ~ hi there Fred and Ginger, Tom and Jerry and Ann On ~ who, I hope, are desperate to keep in touch. (Post me a letter, send me an e-mail, call me. PLEASE.)

My interests outside my family can be deduced from the list of links to the right. They're family too. For example, I know of only one other genuine Charlton Athletic supporter resident here. If you're another one, drop me a line. My musical connections are from when I was an unashamed groupie.

But still there lies the crucial point as to why I've started this thing rolling. I'm not going to gaze at my navel and tell you about my bowel movements ~ is that physically or philologically possible? But this will be an attempt to improve my writing style, which inherently means thinking. So, it's a diary of sorts.

Your mother may have told you that it's not the done thing to read others' diaries, but in so far as Jakartass is concerned, my life is an open book. I hope you enjoy the read.

There are now more than 2,000,000 blogs online. Why have I joined them? I'll now let others answer for me. 

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9:14 pm |
  For some nice pics of the London Marathon runners bottling it ~ or not in the case of the majority ~ through the streets of Charlton and Greenwich, click here

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9:14 pm |
Saturday, April 17, 2004
  Candidates fail to make the grade
Great news in today's Jakarta Post; many candidates in the recent election have gone bankrupt.
Paying their respective parties for a higher placing in the list of candidates and their largesse with T-shirts, flyers, flags and banners ~ large and small, only to find that the electors have rejected their parties, has been a financially crippling blow to many aspiring 'servants of the people'. One candidate is reported to have spent all his savings of Rp.2 billion (nigh on $250,000). Another is having to sell a relative's house, having mortgaged all his own.

Glad to see that money can't buy happiness. Probably.

And in the words on the pack of Toraja Coffee on offer in Carrefour, It's A Good Aroma ... It Tastes Grade

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2:18 pm |
Friday, April 16, 2004
  I’m a spring chicken.
Well, perhaps not me but there will be a spring in the steps, skips and hops ~ some backwards ~ of the 35,000 participants in the London Marathon on Sunday.

This has got me wondering about the feasibility of a similar event being held here in Jakarta.

Before anyone writes to tell me about Bali half-marathons and the regular runs to the bar by the pseudonymous Hashers, have a look at the excellent Living in Indonesia site for where you can play underwater hockey. Eh? Or, if you don’t like the wet, try water skiing in Tanjung Lesung, West Java (dry season only).

Whatever, the vast majority of sports activities are held on the outskirts of town and we urbanites don’t have much access to open spaces. And if we do make it to Monas or Senayan, we’re liable to get mown down by reckless drivers as has happened recently. If the city government can’t be hashed to pedestrianise the pavements, then why not organise some all-expenses paid trips to London?

Assuming the bureaucrats can’t find the fares in time, other exciting marathons include the North Pole Marathon, which is run in snowshoes and the Inca Trail Marathon - a high-altitude race in the Andes. Both will surely provide an object lesson in how to get something together in this city of “wacky charm” as my good mate Del described it in his book Culture Shock – Jakarta.

Better still, how about the Giant Jumping Rat Marathon in Madagascar held this year on the 10th July in aid of the environment. I’d like to enter several rats from around here.

They’d probably benefit more than the rest of us ever will.  

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10:28 pm |
Thursday, April 15, 2004
  Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner…
The following is from a bunch of Northerners.
“Patience is a rarity in football yet the clubs who build slowly and carefully are those that make the most progress over the long haul. There is no better example than Charlton Athletic, now battling for the fourth place Champions League spot. Just compare their steady rise to the sorry plight of nearish neighbours West Ham, Crystal Palace and the club formerly known as Wimbledon FC.”
I was going to say “No comment”, but possibly an even better example of a fans-built club is AFC Wimbledon, the successors of Franchise Milton Keynes, “the club formerly known as Wimbledon FC”. Established by true fans of their local club, the Dons have seen their club score 150+ goals, stay undefeated in their league and win promotion from the Combined Counties League with bigger gates than the commercial enterprise who are going to get relegated in order to allow a supermarket to be built.

Yep, money can’t buy happiness. Probably.

Power To The People! And the News of the Screws.

Which leads nicely to an astonishing twist in the continuing media saga of the Beckhams' private lives. Victoria, the mother of their two children, says, “I slept with David Beckham”.

This week London bade farewell to the Concorde as the supersonic aircraft was transported through central London on a specialist barge. The plane, which was bound for the Museum of Flight in East Lothian, began its voyage on Tuesday when the barge sailed along the Thames through London. There’s a nice picture of it passing the Houses of Parliament here

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1:31 pm |
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
  Throw Momma from the train.
And now I have a confession to make. I recently threw a man off the Bogor to Kota train.
It had already arrived at Kota station so was my action OK? You judge, and feel free to write with your comments, supportive, derogatory or anecdotal. I may even reply.

I was with my 7 year old going to Mangga Dua because the train saves both time and taxi fares, although you have to be careful of pickpockets and hawkers of trinkets and phlegm. As with nearly all mass transport conveyances in Indonesia, the operative word is mass. Standing is the norm for pregnant women, physically handicapped folk and anyone who isn't able-bodied. Able, that is, to grab a seat.

So, we arrived at Kota station and with relief joined the exiting throng only to find ourselves being pushed back in by a throng wishing to bugger off to Bogor and points in-between. So, in order to create space for my nipper, I pushed a respectably dressed man in his late 20's back on to the platform and loudly suggested that he should have bought a brain when he bought his ticket. He wasn't happy but others were, maybe because now he would not be able to grab a seat.

It's not just trains. Lifts are another bottleneck and who thanks you if you hold a door open to let others pass through? Is this endemic?

Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes. Apparently, queues 'are no longer sacred in British culture'. At Kota, I was not a victim of 'queue rage' ~ a term coined by a Newcastle academic who spent four years queuing in order to produce his report. A bit excessive I would have thought. Even I'm not that patient.

There has to be a reason for what I believe is a lack of common courtesy. I'm not going to launch into a long socio-economic thesis here, but would merely like to draw your attention to one particular laundry gunge ad. A single man spends an inordinate amount of time seeking one item in a supermarket. He finds it and is happy until he sees the length of the checkout queue. No problem for this mighty man; he pushes in front of the line of ibus who then smile and coo as he displays his purchase of ..... Wings.

Now, that's what I need. Give me wings and I too could avoid queues.
 

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10:28 am |
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
  Football crazy, football mad
Well, I am when it comes to Charlton, which I haven’t visited in ……… pause while I count all my fingers and toes …….. years. But there ain’t no getting away from one’s roots, so I’ll continue to root for them until the final penalty, golden goal or sudden death.

First off this weekend was that Sven Goran Eriksson, the England manager, said “Parker for England ~ probably.”
Scottie Parker, once the fans favourite, transferred from Charlton to rouble-rich Chelsea in January for £10m+, a snip at the fee. Charlton’s manager, Alan Curbishley said this week that “Charlton (are) not-so-good without Parker ~ probably.”
But then last night we beat Liverpool – AWAY.

Whoopie. I feel gooood today! Cumon you R-e-ds. Whoops, that’s the Liverpool strip at home, so we wore yellow. But weren’t.

Whatever, I still say money can buy happiness ~ probably. Readers may not share or understand the communality of feeling that comes from supporting a sports team. However, there are a few sports stars who transcend their particular domains to become supposed worldwide icons of style ~ or lack of it in the case of Mike Tyson.

We Brits are very good at putting folks on pedestals which we then delight in kicking away. Bend it like Beckham? You’ve got to feel sorry for the guy right now having to put up with the tosh about Posh from the News of the Screws ~ which I won’t dignify with a link.

If you scroll back to the top of this page you will see a Google-generated ad maybe suggesting that you can Learn to Speak Indonesian.
In the interests of market research, and to save you having to fork out $8.95, I’ve had a look at the sample exercise. Mind you, with “No tedious memorization. The words stick in your memory without effort.”, this could be money well spent.
So, what’s their system?
”Indonesian words will be presented like this: the Indonesian for BREAD is ROTI (pronounced ROTEE). Imagine you watch BREAD ROTTING, in your mind, AS VIVIDLY AS YOU CAN, for 10 seconds. Unless you picture the image for the full 10 seconds, you will not experience for yourself how amazingly effective the method is.”

Have I forgotten something? I know teeth decay, politicians corrupt and metals rust but I’ve never seen bread rotting, though I have seen it go mouldy. So, where’s the alliterative allusion, the intellectual illusion, aka the aide memoire?

Aduh! 

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2:21 pm |
Sunday, April 11, 2004
  I want my digital utopia
So writes Phil Hogan in today’s Sunday Observer
And so do I.
I’ve reformatted my C-drive, re-installed various programmes and lost count of the number of times I’ve had to search for the serial number of those which I know I scribbled down on a scrap of paper somewhere.

I’m also having problems with the automatic formatting of these postings ~ putting in bold, italics and the html links. Bear with me as I work out the manual grafting of the code.

Popular Pineapple Party
It seems that the poor prisoner (see my last posting) who wanted to vote for the Pineapple Party knew something. According to the Jakarta Post yesterday, in Yogyakarta during this election period fruit sales have risen 60%.

Whilst in Yogya, there’s a nice article in today’s paper about the banana-leaf style of the Affandi Museum in Yogya. According to the Yogya Tourism website the Museum “keeps a collection of Affandi's finest art work during his lifetime.”
It’s probably got some of his artwork from beyond the grave as well.

Tit for tat?
Indonesians have been advised not to visit the U.K. Visit the Indonesian Embassy in London website for the full text of their Travel Advisory IN BLOCK LETTERS.

It would appear that they’ve read the current timely advice from the Foreign (and Commonwealth) Office in the UK to us Brits ~ “We advise against all non-essential travel to Indonesia.”

But, hey, does this also mean that someone is actually reading this blog? I wrote on March 26th about how out of date and irrelevant the advice was and now their update is dated April 7th THIS YEAR.

Drop me a line guys and I’ll see how else I can help you.
For example, I could disagree with your support of the electoral process here ~
Brits say election was jolly good.

I could. But I won’t.
As I’ve said elsewhere, whoever you vote for, the government gets in.  

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5:01 pm |
Friday, April 09, 2004
  A New Start?
So the election has been and gone, but not for all. A number of polling stations hadn't received the ballot papers on time and others received the wrong ones. Re-runs have also to be held in a number of places as the number of punched ballot papers was more than the number of registered voters. However, the re-runs aren't that successful. As stated in the Jakarta Post, in one village on Madura Island "only 80% of illegible voters attended the polling station." Only 80%?? Illegible??

And pity the poor prisoner - unlike in the U.K., political prisoners have political rights here - who left his ballot sheet blank. In the pre-election trial runs, pictures of fruits, rather than fruitcakes, represented the political parties to be stabbed. The poor fellow had decided to vote for the Pineapple Party.

Still, we are going to see some changes. Not in the waiting for yonks for the final results, but in the diminishing of the votes for the 'establishment'. Here in Jakarta, the Prosperous Justice Party, supposedly a clean party, look to take about 20% of the vote. This is the party which gave out the most T-shirts and caused the biggest traffic jam with their rally. Also, the Democratic Party may take 10% or more because its leader is the former Security Minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who fell out with Megawati on the eve of the election.

Women like his charisma. A bit like Paul Newman, I suppose, which makes me Robert Redford. Or Walter Mattau.

Anyway, if there's a shift in the make-up of the Jakarta City Council, we may yet see something done to improve living conditions. I rode up and down Jl. Sudhirman today on the TransJakarta Busway. And very nice it was too. I did have to stand, but the buses were clean, air-conditioned and fast. Ya, boo and sucks to those stuck in the jams alongside us.

But trying to get to my highrise destinations once I was off the buses proved the usual nightmare. I'm convinced that a major cause of the traffic jams is that the population have purchased cars and motorbikes because it is literally impossible to walk anywhere. I don't have the vote here, but I'd certainly support any candidate who promised to pedestrianise the outer pavements (sidewalks to my American readers).

So, here's to a fresh start and a renewal of civic pride, or whatever it's called.

And here's to a fresh start to my computer which I now have to reformat, again. And that's another cross I have to bear.

Happy Easter.


 

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3:30 pm |
Monday, April 05, 2004
  This blog is free......
I don't pay for it and you don't have to read it, but I/you do get the banner ad at the top. Having grappled with my computer problems, thank you M., I've got to wondering how come the ads seem so targeted at me. Obviously it's some numerical networking; look out, nerds at work.

My only costs are for the time spent connecting to the Net. Local calls are about to cost 28% more. The increase in the vast profits made by Telkom will doubtless not be spent on linking the 152 electoral sub-districts which don't have computerisation for the tabulation of the votes cast today. They don't have electricity either.

It was suggested to me yesterday that the decline in the number of expats employed here is a key factor in the rise in inefficiency of service provision. If so, Telkom and PLN, Indonesia's electricity company, should recruit some nerds.  

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12:17 pm |
Sunday, April 04, 2004
  Election Fever
There are a lot of strange sicknesses in Indonesia. Our 7 year old lad is recovering from radang, which is an all-encompassing term which means inflammation. His was in the mouth and rendered him speechless, ah bliss, for several days.

Something else which is common is panas dalam, which translates as 'hot inside'. On cloudless days Indonesians are prone to masuk angin (air coming in). There is a fortune being made in special drinks to 'cure' these ills but, as I keep telling my tribe, if they're cold inside and no air is getting in, then they're dead. And there ain't no cure for that.

Today, Monday, is election day when those who are registered, and seemingly 5% of potential voters are not, get to literally spike the political party of their choice, or that of the party which has given them the nicest T-shirt. A pin or nail is first pushed through the picture of the party and then of the candidate, assuming s/he is of the same party.

I can't say that any particular party has taken my fancy as none seem to have any policies to deal with the current malaise. However, judging by the number of kids decked out in T-shirts adorned with party logos and numbers between 1 and 24, perhaps they're the ones who'll really benefit from what is only the third 'democratic' election in the 56 years since the Dutch departed.

And for a totally unrelated digression, what an enthralling game ensued between Millwall, Charlton's neighbours, and Sunderland. Guts, blood and thunder (well, heavy rain), this FA Cup semi-final had the lot. So why did TV7 cut short the Millwall celebrations to show ads for kretek cigarettes?

Maybe it's time to save for a satellite dish. 

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11:02 pm |
  The Pepys Project has a data base of worldwide blogs ~ but this one isn't there although I thought I'd registered. I've kept this going for more than 2 weeks now. Why? Perhaps it's as the Guardian says, "For some, the blog is the easiest way for family and friends to keep in touch. Parents discover more about their children through the surreptitious reading of their blogs than over the dinner table ....... At the last count, the website Technorati had tracked 1,944,106 unique weblogs in the world, and there is only one theme common to all: they are all about ego, about wanting to be heard."

Maybe it is, or in the case of the only other blog from Indonesia I've found, was.

I don't watch much TV here. There are too many repetitious ads for soap powders, soft drinks and skin whiteners for continuous viewing pleasure. (Thought: why do Caucasians come here partly to seek a suntan, yet Indonesians want to fade?)

In their search for cheap programmes subsidized by cheap ads, many TV schedulers seem to rely on so-called reality shows. Look At Me. I'm a Complete Prat is universally popular. Why? Are they visual, easily digestible blogs?

I've always believed that laughing at, rather than with, others is morally indefensible. So, why am I gripped by the cattle auction that is Bachelorette? This is the everyday story of a pretty 30-year old seeking, from an initial cast list of 25 hunks, the last two of whom she probably bedded, Mr. Right. I enjoyed a certain tension and relief from reality until TV7 started trailing the episode entitled Trista and Ryan's Wedding

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3:02 pm |
Saturday, April 03, 2004
  Hollywood comes out for Kerry.
Hooray. And soap opera and dangdut stars entertain election crowds here. So, what's different? What's new? Bugger all as far as I can tell. For a deep and meaningful analysis of the ramifications of the Indonesian elections, look elsewhere.

A news item in today's Jakarta Post says that not even American oil execs are anticipating civil unrest caused by exitable excitable crowds of Indo electors. Blasé? Moi?

The election won't upset tourists either. Following the introduction of a pay-on-arrival tourist visa for those from privileged 21 countries ~ if you're not, visit an Indonesian embassy abroad to get your visa, tourist arrivals are down 10.27% in February. The ostriches in the government say there's no correlation. Oh yeah? So, where are the backpackers then? Why is the hotel occupancy rate down? And why is unemployment up?

The movie that changed my life

I can't say that any movie has changed my life. (A book, Dice Man, once nearly did, but that's another story which I'm never going to relate in public.) With pirated DVDs available here for Rp.10,000 ( less than £1, more than $1), I'm building up a nice library of films I enjoy rewatching. One I'd love to get hold of is Belle De Jour because I've never worked out the ending. Now someone has adopted the title as his/her blog nôm de plume, and folks are getting in a lather about his/her identity. Given the many levels of 'reality' in the film, I would suggest that this blogger's tale of everyday prostitution is totally fictional. Oh, and I've yet to read it. If you want to, I suggest that you try linking from the Guardian's weblog section.

The Sixth Stone
Ian Stewart loved R'n'B and honky tonk piano as played by Meade Lux Lewis. Forget the controversies, the drugs, the rumours about Mars bars and remember the music. The Rolling Stones were a London band and I was there-abouts.
 

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11:41 am |
Friday, April 02, 2004
  Rust In Peace
On Wednesday evening I popped into D's Place to partake of the weekly delight which is a free barrel of Bintang. Actually, I mainly went to meet M, my computer savvy friend, who'll hopefully he'll be able to talk me out of, or through, the reformatting of my Drive C.

We commiserated with a friend whose father had recently died, but who had received the best possible treatment from the dear old NHS. M. jested that his own epitaph would be Rust In Peace. When he goes through the many security check points in buildings and airports he sets off the metal detectors.

When I can work out how, I'll post a pic of his special I.D. card with an X-ray of the nuts and bolts which now keep him together. He now has the freedom to pass through borders legally and to play pool badly.

Anyway, on the bar counter was a copy of the new glossy monthly, Jakarta24, for expats seeking the cultural delights of this overcrowded and polluted city we call home. As a true Brit, I skipped the section on the bars and turned to Art and Culture which had this to say: "British culture has given us Shakespeare and the Teletubbies. The British Council in Jakarta conducts English classes ......... and also invites British artists to perform and collaborate with their Indonesian counterparts .......
The British Council library is in itself a treasure trove of British culture with an extensive list of books, videos and DVDs.
".

So, those expat Brits missing their dose of Fawlty Towers and It Ain't 'Alf 'Ot Mum know where to go. The problem is that the Council mandarins back in Blighty are rumoured to have decreed that the library is to close and that its resources should be available online.

Please e-mail me if you can manage to access their site; they seem to have been offline all week. Oh, and don't even think of trying to link through the Jakarta Embassy site. They still have the year old URL.

It's comforting to know that the moans and groans we have about life in the tropics are virtually the same as we have about life 'back home'.
 

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6:38 pm |
Thursday, April 01, 2004
  Hi there.

I'm still trying very hard to sort out my computer glitches.
Meantimes I've found a link to Alistair Cooke's blog here.Enjoy. 

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