Courtly foreign grace
Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The Revenge xiii
Half a page was devoted in yesterday's Jakarta Post
to an advertorial for PT DaimlerChrysler Indonesia
. Not having a driving license or any wish to drive, let alone possess, a car here in Jakarta, I wouldn't normally bother to read about how you can wallow in luxury in traffic jams.
But this ad caught my eye as it is illustrated with pictures of Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, both with wonderful whiskers, and a young Pre-Raphaelite looking lass named Mercedes. But the words are set, supposedly in the form of a children's story, in the here and now. So, if you're sitting comfortably, as I can't find this travesty online let me quote verbatim.
With energetic movements, the man with tousled silvery hair was immersed in his daily rite: cleaning, polishing and revving up his car. Like on most Sundays, his nine-year-old grand-daughter was there to lend a hand, enthusiastically.
"We're finished. It's pay time, grandpa! Another story?" Her voice was coy, yet persuasive even so.
"Well, okay. But as always, my stories contain a certain message: a valuable lesson for life."
They washed their hands. She smiled thankfully as he took her to the neatly filed clippings and the computer in the study.
"I'll give you just the highlights, not too chronologically, though. The core message is one of the beneficial powers of that commendable trait: trustworthiness. Hard to give and hard to maintain, but lose it once and it's next-to-impossible to win it back. To me it is the result of honesty and commitment to doing one's best. Ultimately, this trait is also reflected in inventions to benefit mankind. Don't take my words for granted. Observe whats around you and make your own conclusion."
With these opening lines
(which I'm sure all nine-year olds will understand), he took her back in time ... to the history of Daimler Benz.
Exciting stuff for a nine year old Indonesian girl, eh? And it gets even better with the tale of how a little girl was born on September 16th 1889 and named Mercedes, which means 'grace'. This name was used by her father, Emil Jellink, when he won the Tour de Nice in 1899 driving a Daimler. When he bought the dealership for Austria-Hungary, France and America he insisted that the cars should be named after his daughter.
"Now," continued the grandfather, "in my mind, this part of the history is related to you. Your parents weren't prepared for a baby girl.
(Nothing like telling a kid that they weren't really wanted.) The first few days, they couldn't even decide on a name for you. I thought of suggesting a name like hers," he said, pointing to a picture of a girl
~ presumably the one in the advertorial.
"Well, to cut a long story short, I suggested the Indonesian word that has a similar meaning to hers: Anggun," He smiled at Anggun, who giggled and pinched his arm.
And so it goes. A car is named after a girl whilst here in Indonesia a girl is named after a car.
Chrysler expressively creates state-of-the-art product designs of exceptional performance personifying the American Lifestyle.
The company also purports to have a high degree of social responsibility; there's a bi-lingual .pdf file to download.
If I could be bothered, I could argue that they've transgressed the spirit of their own corporate human rights statement. Advocating possessiveness and an American lifestyle for Indonesia, whilst suggesting that girls are second-best, indicates to me that all this company is interested in is its bottom line.
Which reminds me. Anggun
has a nice bottom. I like her singing too.
Finally, for those who may be wondering why I'm not commenting on the forthcoming presidential election, it's because there's nothing much to say. There are few of the dirty tricks happening in the American version, but the horse trading
is possibly even more venal. And, like Wimar Witoelar
, I hope the electors will choose whoever they feel they can trust the most.
Which probably means that abstentions will be very high.