Sunday, October 17, 2010

Postcard – Tuesday, 6 October 1998


Here in Indonesia they don't have cordial, they have syrup, and the labels on the bottles of syrup proudly proclaim, and I quote, “contains guaranteed 100% pure sugar, flavour and food grade colour”. Now, when you ask an Indonesian to make you a drink they mix the stuff about half and half, so you get an unbearable sweet concoction that invites a multitude of medical conditions. The good thing about this is that they apply the same measures to alcohol. A gin and tonic is closer to a long martini. Now, I was bought a bottle of local vodka the other day. I must admit to having a sneaking suspicion that it was terps as it was only 9000 rupiah ($1.50). It came in a bottle exactly the same as a terps bottle and had the word terps crossed out on the label and the word of vodca written in a green crayon. It did, however, taste a little bit like vodka and mostly like terps. I was made only one drink and couldn’t pronounce the word “is” for three hours and in the morning I cursed the Indonesian love in White Tiles.

Drinks in Indonesia are weird at the best of times. I'm a big fan of Es Kalapa Muda (young coconut milk with ice) but most other drinks contain glutinous things that look like fluorescents caterpillars. Basically they scare the hell out of me. Avocados here are not eaten but turned into a thick milkshakes of sorts. Most of the drinks, however, are so sickly sweet and I don't think even Aussie kids would like.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poscards from Indonesia

It's been a while since I blogged. Facebook has been enchanting me.

My next group of posts will be from postcards which I wrote from Indonesia between 1998 and the year 2000. Being far away from home, I wanted to keep my family had little bit reassured. With each e-mail, I wrote a small essay describing some part of my life. It was a time when Indonesia was in trouble. I thought that a little humour and normality might go a long way to calming my family’s nerves.

The first postcard is dated Monday, 12 October 1998


As I have previously told you, the traffic problems in Jakarta are enormous. I wish to elaborate and expand on my claims to further show you the hardship of my life. Roads here are a bit of a parallel universe. That is to say that the rules and signs that govern the roads only represent a possible reality. Lines on the road usually indicate where you should steer your car. Here, the same lines, are purely decorative. Indonesians have a knack of changing a two-lane road into a six lane parking lot with startling regularity and ease. Changing lanes is done with the same careless abandon that we would usually associate with modern jazz played by drunken nudists.

Indicators are used creatively and each driver seems to have his own idea about when and how to use them. It's fairly obvious that no one expects anyone behind them to see their indicators, as they tend to use them with oncoming traffic indicating that they are in the wrong lane and don't intend changing lanes to facilitate the flow of traffic. I sometimes wonder if Indonesians even know that they have indicators on the front of their cars. am amazed that the population here has reached 200 million considering the inmate carnage that such a system in light.

What's more, the same attitude is applied to other places. Supermarkets! In Indonesian supermarkets they have three sizes of trolleys. Really big (a la large trucks), normal (à la cars) and a really small (à la motorbikes). The really small ones are for children and I think this is where they gain their road training experience rather than with an accredited driving School. Now, giving a two-year-old a trolley to navigate around the crowded supermarket may seem cute to some but in me it simply inspires what I could only call, "Aisle rage”.

It's almost like Indonesians have a complete lack of awareness that anyone else exists. They will park their trolleys across the aisle's (I kid you not) as they meander around looking for the latest flavour in instant noodle. It's all terribly frustrating and, at times, I've cursed them in English while smiling. They smile back at the stupid Bule. Even with trolleys they can never walk in a straight line and at pace.

The same rules apply to swimming pools. Pools are usually rectangular in shape, and if you want to do laps, you use the longer length. Yes? There are even lines on the bottom of the pool to guide you. Yes? Do Indonesians have any perception of this? No! If they do attempts to swim laps they will take the path of least possible resistance and length, swimming across the pool so dumb Bule like me and smash into them in an effort to get some exercise. Slso, there have been occasions where I am the only one in the pool (I can see the pool from my apartment and tend to wait until it is empty to avoid whiplash) and people have arrived while I am lapping. The pool is quite wide. Do they choose the side of the pool that I'm not using? No! They play my part.

I also think that most Indonesians think swimming means that you quickly dip yourself in the pool then sit on the edge of the pool for two hours, chatting and adjusting your swimwear.

Finally, a word of advice from your own buah hati (fruit of your heart). Don't go around telling people how old you are. I keep seeing old people being interviewed on the TV and they all seem to start by saying, "I’m 83 you know and…" All very tacky.

Lots of love


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Casino Oh!

Taxi drivers in Singapore have several jokes. Actually, it used to be 2.

Joke number 1 – What does ERP stand for? (The correct answer is Electronic Road Pricing). But our humour-filled taxi driver will then say, “Every Road Pay!” and laugh until spit globules the consistency of clag glue hit the inside of the windscreen.

Joke number 2 – Singapore is a fine city. “Fine” because you get fined for everything. (More clag flies).

Sadly they have a new joke. What does Casino mean? “Cash in oh! Cash in no come out. See casino; cash in no come out because you go in with cash but none when you come out. Cash in oh!” I have heard that gem, while dodging clag, three times this week.

Dear Singaporean taxi drivers, just so you know...

The term "Casino" is of Italian origin, the root word being "Casa" (house) and originally meant a small country villa, summerhouse or pavilion. The word changed to refer to a building built for pleasure, usually on the grounds of a larger Italian villa or palazzo. Such buildings were used to host civic town functions – including dancing, music listening and gambling.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Water Talks

A friend of mine directed me to a website that she is obviously involved with. Her name comes up several times and there is a small video of her conducting shelves whilst blending. The website is extolling the virtues of raw foods. I’m OK with that. Raw food is good. Crunchy. Cook it slowly in a bucket of red wine and it is better but...

The web page I looked at seems that the group is venturing into the world outside of raw food. Water!

A major headline extols, “Water – a witness of the times. If we want to know how our world appears 2000 years ago. All we have to do is to ask water.” So the headline lacks a certain pith (raw pith probably) but I would like to point out a simple truth. Water can’t talk!

Other than that, keep crunching.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rewriting (Biblical) History

Historical revisionism, or sometimes called negationism, seems to be coming increasingly popular. It is when an historical event, series of events or personage is redefined through new evidence or discovered motivation. Whether we now believe that the world is indeed flat, that Eric Clapton is not in fact God or that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was really an attack by a sea monster called Trish, the changing of our understanding of history is common place.

Sure, some of the accusations are wild and improbable (Holocaust deniers and believing that Lady Gaga is a member of the illuminati for example) but some seem probable and allow for huge marketing possibilities.

All this taken into account, I thought I would give it a bash myself.

At a recent archeological dig in Jerusalem, some astounding findings have led leading theologians to revisit the manger. It is now believed that the three Kings, astronomers or Magi were a troupe of accordion players. The amazing discovery of an ancient accordion, scarily looking like a musical tabernacle, may lead to the revision of some well known biblical tracts.

Furthermore, the Christmas service will, in future, have many of the traditional hymns rewritten into a polka form and many classical paintings of the birth of our Lord and savior will have to be touched up to add some believability to the now incorrect representation of that tiny stable.

The Catholic Church is bound to insist that priests start learning the bellows-driven free-reed member of the aerophone family and the vow of silence that usually permeates humble seminaries with be replaced by a cacophony of novices practicing The Beer Barrel Polka.

I can only see my rewriting of biblical history as a total boon for Christianity.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Kyrgyz president 'offers to resign' in order to buy more vowels

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Training in Bangalore (Bangaluru)

Some participants are more difficult than others. Barbertha has a mild aggressive steak and her DiSC profile backs this up (She is a high D with no other dimensions registering at all). She tends to push rather than pull her team towards goals and if they do not achieve their KPI, she bites and rolls. After eating the "Happy Sheet" she gave Paul some direct feedback.