Memories of Bali

I should note that this was originally posted in 1998.

It’s good to be home.

Emily had gone to Bali a few days earlier, as she had some business and both my son and I still had school. On Christmas Eve we got to the airport and boarded our flight to Bali.

Like the song goes … “the weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew …” We made three passes over the Island of the Gods, but it wasn’t meant to happen.

The rain was buffeting our sturdy craft. It was impossible to see anything, and then the peanuts ran out.

Well, next thing you know … ol’ Wayne’s back in Surabaya. And Boy howdy, was I ever happy about that. I peppered the air with cries of gosh golly and dad burn it. I’m not happy.

Emily is waiting at the airport for me and her handphone is obviously not working. My handphone has previously given up the ghost. Now I’m using a phone card and trying to find a compatible phone. I find one, but unfortunately, it’s sandwiched between two phones occupied by men talking louder than seems necessary.

I can’t hear a bloody thing. I’m trying to explain the situation to my mother-in-law. She’s a nice lady who I communicate quite well with in person, yet her English doesn’t exist, my Indonesian is poor, the connection sucks and the surrounding noise is unbearable.

Well, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas at the top of my lungs, I compliment their country and their courtesy and I wish them on their way. My son thinks dear old Dad is ready for a new sports coat in that lovely wrap-around style.

Finally, I get through. Everybody’s okay on that side. We waited in Surabaya’s Juanda airport for an hour and a half. Finally, the plane boarded again. It was now 10:00 pm. The flight to Bali is about 35 to 45 minutes. Bali is an hour ahead of Surabaya.

We arrive in Bali at 11:40 p.m. Bali time. It’s drizzling. The taxi driver asks for Rp 40,000. I decline. We walk out to the taxi booth and buy a voucher. We pay Rp 26,000. Christmas Eve passes in the back of a taxi. We arrive.

My wife is at work preparing a shipment of fruit to Hong Kong. I am now a fruit packer. By 12:00 p.m. Christmas day the fruit is packed and on its way. We shower, eat and almost everyone sleeps.

Me, … I’m wired. The rest of our merry band has fallen asleep. The nanny and the cook are watching the kids. The next day the lost sleep will catch up with me. I take a long walk. We were in Denpasar, Bali and it’s hot. I walk for an hour and come back drenched in sweat.

Christmas night we head to Jimbaran.

Jimbaran beach is a long strip of seafood restaurants. You order your food fresh. You pick a table. On the beach, if it’s not raining, under the tents if it is. On a clear night the sound of the surf, the smell of barbecued fish and the majesty of a star-filled sky conspire to bewitch even the most cynical traveler.

The day after Christmas I sleep until 11:00 a.m. I’m still tired when my two nephews and my niece wake me. Chinese-Indonesian children do not play outside and are generally spoiled. I’ve brought some cartoons with me. The VCDs keep them occupied for half an hour.

We head to Kuta that afternoon. We don’t go to the bars or the shopping malls. We find a relatively quiet beach and play in the surf. My son, who’s eighteen, seems more interested in the spectacle of topless women frolicking close by. My head may have turned one or two times. The surf-kissed sand has been rendered almost mirror-like. The sky is a rich blue with traces of white clouds. Gradually the blue becomes purple and the sun is a descending red ball. Pale pinks and rich oranges dominate the fading palate. A tropical sunset is beautiful and abbreviated.

In fifteen minutes it is dark. The stars are brilliant. Aside from a few moments of temper, the week passes uneventfully. We watch videos on New Years’ Eve. Two days later we hop in the car and head to Lovina. We’re going to see the Dolphins.

Last episode we left for Lovina to see the dolphins.

Along the way, we pass the site of Gunung Agung’s 1963 eruption. The devastation was massive and thousands died. The Balinese believe that this was because prayers had been interrupted. Now the boulders, once part of Gunung Agung’s crown, are strewn about, but they are covered with lush vegetation. It was another example of nature’s power to repair itself.

I was reminded of a walk through Canada’s Algonquin Park.

Granted, it probably doesn’t need to be said that it certainly wasn’t similar terrain. A picture from the early years of the last century showed a devastated mountain.Trees, and earth torn away to run a rail line through. Then in the fall 0f 1995, I walked down that same path and tall, healthy trees shaded me. Waist high grass surrounded me. I was shaded by mature pines. Nature will right itself, once given a chance.

Now I stood in the lushness of Gunung Agung’s revival. Gunung is the Indonesian word for mountain, and the center of Bali is a spine of mountains. Many of them are still active volcanoes. As late as 1994 there have been eruptions. They don’t call the Indonesian archipelago the Ring of Fire because of the hot food. We arrived in Lovina. We looked at one place. They wanted RP 300,000 a night. That’s the price of a luxury hotel in Surabaya.

We found the Hotel Padma. We paid Rp 120,000 for each of two rooms, barely enough for myself, Emily, her sister Suzy, our son Adryan, Suzy’s three kids and a family friend. So, it’s guys in one room, and women in the other. The pool was clean large and warmed by the sun. We ate a large dinner and turned in. At 5:00 a.m. we were up and by six o’clock, we were in two traditional boats heading out to see the dolphins. We were about 20 minutes out when the first small pod appeared.

They surfaced, played about and were gone – only to reappear in another area. This went on for half an hour or so. Then a larger group appeared. The two groups surfaced, dived, disappeared, raced the boats and delighted their audience. It is impossible not to feel a little like an alien watcher, privileged to witness a very personal kinship with nature.

The surrounding mountains were mist-cloaked shadows at the water’s edge. The water was black in the pale early morning light, briefly disturbed by our bright-coloured boats and the sleek gray bodies that danced and dived around us.

Then it ended. We had spent almost two hours watching. It was impossible to tell who was more excited, the adults or the children.

After breakfast, Adryan and I went snorkelling.  A reef lay about halfway between the shore and where we watched the dolphins. Again, we were in a traditional boat. A narrow canoe like craft with twin outriggers, a small (5.5 horsepower) outboard motor and an inverted, triangular-shaped, lanteen sail that also serves to shade our driver/guide as he naps. We don masks and flippers and enter the now blue waters. Colors explode around us. Angelfish, rainbow-hued fish, blue neon tetras and unfortunately a few too many jelly fish. We moved location twice. Adryan managed to find a French coin. Once cleaned, it was revealed as a 1995 coin, but still a find. I had to rescue it from the pool bottom later that evening, so the excitement of discovery was obviously short-lived. We stayed two days then headed back to Denpasar.

We flew home that Saturday.

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Passport in the car(continued from At the Mechanic)

Late or early

 

Mechanic:        Hello

Customer:        Oh, did I wake you?

Mechanic:        Did you wake me? Who is this?

Customer:        You’re fixing my car.

Mechanic:        Do you know what time it is?

Customer:        It’s late

Mechanic:        Or early – depending on how you look at it.

Customer:        I’m sorry. I didn’t know …

Mechanic:        Okay. What do you want?

Customer:        I’m at the airport and I don’t have a passport.

Mechanic:        What?

Customer:        It’s in my car.

Mechanic:        What?

Customer:        My passport. I left it in my car.

Mechanic:        And …

Customer:        I need it. Can you bring it to me?

Mechanic:        Are you insane? I’m a mechanic, not a courier.

Customer:        Could you have it sent here?

Mechanic:        What time does your flight leave?

Customer:        At 5:30.

Mechanic:        It’s – it’s 4:40. I don’t have enough time to get to the garage and get your passport to the airport.

Customer:        But I’ll miss my flight.

Mechanic:        Why don’t you take a later flight?

Customer:        I don’t know? …

Mechanic:        You’re not going to make it. It’s too far.

Customer:        Why is it too far?

Mechanic:        First I have to get to the garage; then I have to open up, and then I have to find your passport in your car. Next, I have to call a courier and wait for him to arrive. Finally, the courier has to get to the airport. The fastest that’s going to happen is two hours.

Customer:        Two hours?

Mechanic:        I think we’re really looking at three or four hours …even if I can find a 24-hour courier.

Customer:        What should I do?

Mechanic:        I think you should reschedule your flight.

Customer:        Reschedule? … for when?

Mechanic:        If I were you I’d reschedule for later in the afternoon.

 

This is a good chance to try an activity on intent and inflection. Call a student aside and tell them to be happy when they read, tell the other to be angry. Next time try one sad and one happy. Try energetic and really tired. Ask the audience to judge how effectively the speakers communicated. Don’t let the audience in on what the subtext is all about. With time, they can identify things for themselves.

The Secrets for Living An Invigorated Life

Health and fitness

Being healthy is often our goal, but just as often our well-being is one of those many things that are put aside. We prioritize ourselves to distraction and to our detriment. Our health, physical, mental and emotional often fluctuates on the smallest upsets. We skipped breakfast; we stayed up late to finish work; or the lady at the counter was snarky. We cannot change the world around us, but we can modulate our reaction to life’s little hiccups. More often than not we don’t need to make drastic changes, as the small changes can have dramatic benefits.

Routines

Adding small routines like a morning stretch or an evening walk. There are benefits to having a glass of water with lemon before the coffee, or getting up a bit early so you can enjoy the solitude of a quiet living room. Just walking around your office/workplace/school periodically is helpful. Change up your routine from time to time by choosing a new restaurant, going to a foreign film, or visiting a new area of the city.

Take a dance class.

Shake your cares away and sweat off a few pounds with salsa, pole-dancing, ballroom dance or even hip-hop.

Volunteer

Soup kitchens, food banks, the Red Cross, the hospital, veterans homes, retirement communities, Boys and Girls Clubs. Get out and pitch in.

Read a book. Lead an aerobics group, or a Tai Chi Chuan class. Deliver mail and smiles around a hospital ward, or serve sandwiches and split pea soup. Run or walk a couple of 10K charity events. Walk with seniors, or help to organize a morning mall walk. If one doesn’t exist, create it. Your hours of dedication will brighten a life. It will most likely make your day as well.

Join a Martial Arts class

It takes a certain kind of person to walk willingly into a Muay Thai ring, but kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate or Judo instruction are all within a more prosaic range.  If you aspire to be Bruce Lee or Batman after a few classes you can always hop a plane east.

Movies

Get out to the movies. There are still good movies being made, and the smell of fresh popcorn can be a tonic for a tired soul. Lose yourself in a movie for a couple of hours. Go with friends or people from the office. Discuss the film over dinner.

Read

Books offer whole worlds of new insights and explorations. Reality and imagination in-between a couple of thick cardboard slices. Get out of whatever space your head is stuck in and explore biography, science-fiction, horror, travel, or even a good detective story. Pick up the Narnia or Harry Potter series. Perhaps you’re into female archers or sparkly vampires? Rediscover a few classics at your local library. Amazon might be a good place to explore. Start a book club. Share the book with children, seniors or veterans.

Food

Eating right isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity. The balance of calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats determines how well you feel, how well you think, and how quickly you can deal, or even bounce back, from an emergency. Apples, bananas, pears, peppers, and grapes are easy enough to find and easy to pack for lunch. Many fruits are natural antioxidants and refreshing, tasty snacks.

Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.

1. Prunes

The deep taste and sticky, chewy texture of this dried fruit is high in antioxidants, as it is considered a cancer protector and a good source of vitamins. Prunes can effectively lower your cholesterol and boost your bone health.

  1. Raspberries

These fruits are loaded with antioxidants and help you lose weight. They’re also very beneficial to maintaining cardiovascular health. “While all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, the so-called “superfoods” with the higher amounts include berries (wild blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, red berries),” Alissa Rumsey, according to registered dietician and spokesperson for the New York State Dietetic Association.

  1. Cloves

Cloves are known to be a great antibacterial and anti-fungal medicine. They are typically used in spices, but they are effective in reducing inflammation, toothache, and even improve our sexual health. Foods in the brown family like cacao and cinnamon are also excellent sources of antioxidants.

  1. Strawberries

It comes as no surprise, strawberries make the top 10 best antioxidant-rich foods list, especially since they can be very health to eye health and maintaining healthy skin. This fruit reduces the bad cholesterol and can contribute to heart health.  Strawberries boost blood antioxidant levels and can help prevent chronic diseases. Strawberries have a large concentration of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids known to have antioxidant properties. At a cellular level, they fight free radical production, and therefore, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.

  1. Cranberries

This super fruit can help boost the immune system. They are most known for their effectiveness in treating urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.  Cranberry products have the highest level of phenols — a disease-fighting antioxidant — and can even reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Walnuts

This super nut is known to deliver a powerful dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants. The American Cancer Society has noted ellagic acid — found in walnuts — may have anti-cancer benefits. These nuts have been known help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes as well as  important for healthy hearts.

  1. Blueberries

This fruit is packed with antioxidants and can, like walnuts, be extremely helpful when it comes to heart health. They can balance blood sugar levels and are considered a diabetic medicine.

  1. Pinto Beans

Although they may seem unlikely to make the list, pinto beans are actually full of antioxidants and very high in fiber. In the U.S., it is estimated 8 lbs. of beans are consumed each year per person, as pinto beans and navy beans are the most popular. They are very beneficial to our digestive health.

  1. Blackberries

Blackberries are considered to have one of the highest levels of antioxidant compared to other fruits.

  1. Soursop

Being abundant in vitamins and minerals, soursop offers several health benefits. It is often recommended by the practitioners of herbal medicine to cure various ailments.

  1. Garlic

Not just for warding off unclean spirits anymore. Garlic may be the wonder cure for all sorts of ailments, but the jury is out on how much is good for you, and how much is too much.

  1. Small Red Beans

Small red beans are known to be very beneficial to bones and teeth, and even lower the risk of heart attacks.

  1. Tomatoes

Sorry to put the tomato all the way down the list. They are very good for skin health. Like a lot of the wetter fruits and vegetables, tomatoes can help to keep the body hydrated.

Mix fruits and vegetables into your meals. Do not skip meals. Breakfast remains important.

Add supplements whenever possible.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Often vitamins are available in fresh foods, but a few can be supplemented, such as A,B and Omega 3. Zinc is important for the bodies’ immune system and while zinc is available in pumpkins, it can be easily supplemented.

Sleep

Get at least seven hours. Take a nap if possible. If you can’t focus, or you’re ready to kill every time the phone rings, nap.  You aren’t helping anyone by trying to tough it out. Sleep is a restorative and it is the time the body and mind need to heal. The early morning hours between two and four are when the body is detoxifying. It’s the reason you stumble to the bathroom in the morning. Your mind is also clearing the detritus of the day, psychically at least. No wonder you’re groggy and irritable in the morning, your biological hard drive hasn’t been defragged.

Insomnia

Prepare yourself to sleep. Turn off the phone. Turn down the lights. Don’t bring work into the bedroom. Lie down and stretch a little. Close your eyes and feel yourself breathe. Do that for a few minutes. It may feel silly at first, just ignore that. Imagine a white light at your feet and imagine as it moves up your legs, over your thighs, up your stomach. It’s at your fingers and hands. As the light passes over, at least in your mind’s eye, allow that part of your body to completely relax. The light moves up your shoulders and chest and up to your neck.

Now do nothing. Float for a few moments. Then get up. Fold the covers down. Get into bed, and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Quiet time

If you can’t tune out the world for a few moments every few hours then burnout is a very real possibility. This is not just true of people in high-stress jobs, but anyone who is meeting deadlines, dealing with children or just getting back and forth to meetings. This could be a time for meditation, yoga or relaxing with scented candles.

Know your limits

Set boundaries. Know what your comfort zone is and stay within reach of it. That doesn’t mean you don’t stretch yourself from time to time. It does mean you don’t stretch so far that you can’t function or return to a place of comparative safety.

Exercise

Regular exercise is tough.  It takes time, dedication and special shoes, doesn’t it? In fact, it only needs a bit of time each day and the dedication to do it three of four times a week. You only need shoes if you intend to run, or take up parkour. A bit of planking, stretching, push ups and some quality time with dumbbells will do wonders for your mood, your waistline, and your appetite.

Start simply with a simple goal to do five push-ups, 20 crunches and a few curls with dumbbells.  Yes, you probably will need to buy them. Add some stretches. Within a few days, you’ll be past the initial aches and pains and you can add five more push-ups and 10 more crunches. Increase your repetitions. Go swimming. Don’t join a gym, unless you want to socialize. Gyms exist on the basic premise that people will sign up, and for the most part, never attend. Imagine the fun if everyone who bought a membership turned up on the same day. It would be like a scene from the Producers.

Theatre

Speaking of theatre, go see a play. Or better yet, join a community group and get involved in acting, stage management, or set design.

Massage

There are real benefits to reflexology, shiatsu, and the other forms of manipulation. Whether it’s deep tissue punishment you seek, or a more relaxing sleep-inducing pampering, there are many schools and styles of massage.

Yoga

Yoga is a mental, physical and often spiritual pursuit. This is not about religion, but about connections. You are pushing past your comfort zones in a safe place. You are making a connection with the deeper and more quiet parts of your mind.

Water

Everyone has advice on this. Drink a lot of water, but not too much. Drink mineral, or filtered, squeeze a cactus or straight from the tap(the cactus might be safer).  Often we feel hungry or tired when we’re actually thirsty. An amazing number of people walk about in a state of mild dehydration. Avoid the sugary drinks. Avoid juices, unless they’re actually squeezed and without sugar. All of this is a matter of routine. One can of soft drink is unlikely to cause major damage; unless it’s thrown at your head. Water is always the default and a few glasses in the morning, after lunch and then at home will help. Get a refillable sports bottle to take with you. People will think you’re an athlete. Clean it or people will think you’re unsanitary.

Certain teas have natural healing properties and can aid hydration.

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. Although it’s sometimes referred to as Kombucha mushroom tea, Kombucha is not a mushroom — it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment.

Matcha is a finely milled or fine powder green tea. The health benefits of matcha tea are supposed to increase as when drinking  matcha you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed water.

Relationships

As with good tea, good relationships take time. Relationships begin with contact. Get out and move around. Join a club. Fitness and bars are fine if you’re the type that can interact with strangers, if not a hobby group or a college course may expand your social network. Spend some time with family. Get out in the yard, or the park. Get out of the city and hike. Explore the city. Go to a farmer’s market. Grab a camera and take shots of sunsets and sunrises, or the cityscape from different locations. Just don’t do this alone. If someone is around, engage them. If not, make an effort to meet people.

None of these ideas are revolutionary. The secret is that it only takes small changes to have dramatic results. Some of these will work, some won’t. Try the next one. None of these ideas take any great investment in money or time, but they need a commitment. Make an appointment with yourself to spend a few moments each day enjoying life. That’s perhaps the true secret; allowing yourself to enjoy your life.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ffj.1951/abstract

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/sep00/beans0900.htm

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/blackberry_facts.htm

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals

http://www.nutritionisyourbesthealthinsurance.com/about_us.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12601669

Lovina

Originally posted in 1998
So, last episode we left for Lovina to see the dolphins.
Along the way we pass the site of Gunung Agung’s 1963 eruption.The devastation was massive and thousands died. The Balinese believe that this was because prayers had been interrupted.Now the boulders, once part of Gunung Agung’s crown, are strewn about,but they are covered with lush vegetation. It was another example of nature’s power to repair itself.
I was reminded of a walk through Canada’s Algonquin park.
Granted, it probably doesn’t need to be said that it certainly wasn’t similar terrain.A picture from the early years of the last century showed a devastated mountain, trees and earth torn away to run a rail line through.
Then in the fall 0f 1995 I walked down that same path and tall, healthy trees shaded me. Waist high grass surrounded me, and I was shade by mature pines. Nature will right itself given a chance.
Now I stood in the lushness of Gunung Agung revival. Gunung is the Indonesian word for mountain, and the center of Bali is a spine of mountains. Many of them are still active volcanoes. As late as 1994 there have been eruptions. They don’t call the Indonesian archipelago the Ring of Fire because of the hot food.We arrived in Lovina. We looked at one place. They wanted RP 300,000 a night. That’s the price of a luxury hotel in Surabaya.
We found the Hotel Padma. We paid Rp 120,000 for each of two rooms. Myself, Emily, her sister Susy, our son Adryan, Susy’s three kids and a family friend. Guys in one room, women in the other.The pool was clean large and warmed by the sun.We ate a large dinner and turned in. At 5:00 a.m. we were up and by six o’clock, we were in two traditional boats heading out to see the dolphins. We were about 20 minutes out when the first small pod appeared.
They surfaced, played about and were gone – only to reappear in another area. This went on for half an hour or so. Then a larger group appeared. The two groups surfaced, dived, disappeared, raced the boats and delighted their audience.It is impossible not to feel a little like an alien watcher, privileged to witness a very personal kinship with nature.

The surrounding mountains were mist-cloaked shadows at the water’s edge. The water was black in the pale early morning light, briefly disturbed by our bright colored boats and the sleek gray bodies that danced and dived around us.
Then it ended. We had spent almost two hours watching. It was impossible to tell who was more excited, the adults or the children.
After breakfast, Adryan and I went snorkeling. A reef lay about halfway between the shore and where we watched the dolphins. Again, we were in a traditional boat. A narrow canoe like craft with twin outriggers, a small (5.5 horsepower) outboard motor and an inverted, triangular-shaped, lanteen sail that also serves to shade our driver/guide as he naps.We don mask and flippers and enter the now blue waters. Colors explode around us. Angelfish, rainbow hued fish, blue neon tetras and unfortunately a few too many jelly fish. We moved location twice.Adryan managed to find a French coin. Once cleaned, it was revealed as a 1995 coin, but still a find. I had to rescue it from the pool bottom later that evening, so the excitement of discovery was obviously short-lived.We stayed two days then headed back to Denpasar.
We flew home that Saturday.

March, 2000
We just returned from Tretes.
Tretes is a small vacation village, an hour outside of Surabaya, and is built on and around the mountain. We stayed at a very nice hotel, the Surya, that’s a bit rundown but has excellent service.
This morning I hiked for two hours in the mountains.
A friend owns one of the larger health clubs in Surabaya, and had invited us to join the hike. Thank God I’ve been running regularly at the gym.
Do you hike?
Man, there’s a big difference between 5 km on a treadmill and two hours trekking over a mountain.
After the hike I had a massage back at the hotel and I’m ready to take on the world … right after my nap.

December 18,1999
May all your wishes come true, and may your stockings be free of coal. We’ll have Christmas dinner at one of the hotels. It’s well nigh impossible to find a turkey in a local supermarket, so we have to depend on the International hotels.

On Tuesday December 14th we’ll celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I think it’ll be a quiet evening for two. On Saturday, December 19. At 7:00pm. We’ll celebrate Momma’s birthday.
Our plans have changed so many times this year, I’ve lost count. I think we’ve pretty much settled on a game plan but I wouldn’t bet any money on it. First we were going home, then to Bali, then it was Jakarta, then Hong Kong … and now who knows?
We’re safe and we hope to enjoy our Christmas in a more or less Traditional manner. We’ll have Christmas dinner at one of the hotels. It’s well nigh impossible to find a turkey in a local supermarket, so we have to depend on the International hotels.
We’re safe and we hope to enjoy our Christmas in a more or less traditional manner. It is the middle of Ramadan here. This is supposed to be a time of quiet reflection but somehow it’s a time of petty theft and small explosions. Starting at four in the morning, the teenagers begin exploding firecrackers that have enough powder to sound like blasting caps. And I thought Duplessis family holidays used to be a bit too loud.
Sheesh, appreciate what you’ve got.
Indonesia is going through some growing pains, which the IMF is complicating, bit things are relatively stable here.
The IMF is still pushing for an end to fuel and energy subsidies, as it seems that they haven’t clued in to the fact that this isn’t a developed country with an adequate social net and most of these folks can pay the local prices. Local salaries work well enough in this economy. Labor and production costs reflect the awesome imbalance of a largely agrarian society with a marginal industrial base trying to struggle in a world economy.
Imagine the kid with the lemonade stand being told he has to pay taxes and employee benefits, and then being further taxed on his product. These people need a guided economy, not an enforced one.
There are a number of local monopolies here, that create market instability and there are a number of local industries – lumber and mining being the major ones, which are largely foreign controlled. They bring in money for a handful of govt. types bit none of the profits circulate. The money is sucked out. Foreigners love to talk about local corruption here, But who’s the crook? … the guy that takes the money or the jokers that egg him on and then share the pot with him. Once he’s caught, they conveniently forget their role. There you have it; my simplistic world view. Hopeful holiday sentiment will now be administered to your dazed and addled spirit.

I hope things are going well for you.
We’re doing okay here.

This is basically an update.


Here, things are going well. The business is beginning to grow.
I thought I’d better drop you a short note and say hi.
How is everything?
Except for a couple of riots, Surabaya, at least, has been quiet.On Monday, Tuesday, and especially during Habibie’s visit on Wednesday, traffic was nuts. Most of the so-called rioting was done by high school students. The action consisted of stone throwing, jumping into and out of trucks, running in the street and shouting obscenities at the passing army convoys. Basically it was a field trip for students in the Stupidity 101 program.

I was just remembering how beautiful a Canadian autumn can be.
I look forward to rediscovering the colors and smells of a September morning.
I’ve tried to tell Emily, the kids and my students about the long walks. How difficult to communicate the long moments spent admiring the golds, reds greens and browns. To feel the last warmth of the year on your face. To stare unashamedly into clear autumn skies. To breath deep of the cooling breeze. To taste greedily of the clean air. How to explain looking up at the sky and knowing that this brief, transitory experience has to be embraced and then tucked safely away as winter’s approach is heralded in the ever-darkening skies.

I’ve been keeping up on some important news from home.
My brother’s wife just had a baby boy. As far as seeing my first nephew, it looks as if it won’t happen for awhile. We’re looking at March at the earliest. We could be coming as late as September. Emily may be going to Hong Kong in a couple of weeks. We’re hoping to make some new contacts. I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve actually gained an incredibly large family here. Our niece Yay Jen had a birthday last night. I was working late, so I missed the party. This happens a bit too often, unfortunately. I either miss things, or show up late and overdressed. Men here generally favor Batik dress shirts. Batik is a tasteful Hawaiian shirt. Is tasteful stretching the point?

Pet Peeves
I have yet to ‘go native’. When I go to a wedding, funeral or to work, I wear a tie. I do not wear sandals, and I still don’t smoke. Being the only abstainer in a family of chain-smokers you can imagine what I feel about this delightful pastime.
I awoke at 4:00am with a major sinus headache. Emily spent two hours wrapping my face with hot towels. This helped a lot. We waited until 9:00am and made our way to Adi Husada. Loosely translated as Hussein’s House of Apathetic Sadism.

I tolerated the hours-long wait. I tolerated the idiot questions. I tolerated the two-hour wait for results. Then my patience paid off. I was afforded the wondrous opportunity to witness a crowd of these caring souls gathering around a little old lady on a stretcher, and lighting up. There must have been eight or nine of these knights in shining ignorance.

Well, I lost it. Whether it was the elegant way I enunciated the ‘F’ word or my suggestions of their doubtful parentage, the crowd dispersed. Emily was not impressed. She’s right. I don’t like it, but she’s right. I now reserve my anger, albeit subdued, for the guitar carrying miscreants who assemble at our gate.
It’s bad enough on the street, but they’ve gone too far when they come to my home. One of the buggers had the nerve to ring the bell the other night. The servants also know not to give money to anyone at the door. This has been my rant for the day.

I’ve just signed to teach a few extra hours at one of the ritziest schools in Indonesia. It’s smack dab in the middle of one of the swankest housing developments you could imagine. Do you know about Ciputraland This place looks like the set of Miami Vice. Pastel colors, and beach house motifs abound. You throw in a couple of Batik shirts and Don Johnson or Tom Selleck would feel right at home.
The school has facilities that I have rarely seen in Canada. Large classrooms, air-conditioning, well-stocked libraries, a video library, a computer lab, an art room, a large cafeteria, a wealth of teaching materials, and most surprisingly … a playground.
This is a culture that treats physical exertion as a strange phenomenon. Ice-skating is still amazingly popular here. You’d be shocked how good some of the kids are. The one big problem with being on the ice with them; is their complete lack of awareness. In the middle of a group someone will kick out, do a spin or rush in for the sole purpose of stopping suddenly and causing a spray of ice.
I enjoy skating. I avail myself of the opportunity whenever Emily and her sisters decide to shop. We arrive at the mall together. They shop. I skate. Then we have lunch. Saturdays are mall days. They window-shop, I skate, we see a movie, then we eat.
I’ll write more later. My company is having an Anniversary bash, and I’ve been suckered into the MC position. I think I need my sleep.

Zen
I’m trying hard to be more Zen … whatever the heck that means. It occasionally works. I haven’t been bit, scratched or swore at by any of my students. Taxi drivers do, on occasion, swear at me. It’s amazing how selectively some people learn a language.
I have letters all ready to mail to family and friends, now I have to find a working post office. The regular postal service is a nightmare here. We visited the central post office in hopes of tracking some missing mail, both coming and going, but we ended up almost as lost as the mail. Hundreds of people, thousands of letters, and none of it in any obvious order. Ah well, that’s Indonesia.
We’re okay here. Both the kids are back at school, and Emily and I are too busy … as usual. Work is going well. The business has been a bit shaky due to the rupiah’s fluctuations, and also because of Hungry Ghost month in Hong Kong. During august the Chinese have to appease their ancestors with offerings of foods, gifts, and the burning of money … usually a symbolic representation is used. It’s very upsetting to the normal flow of business. The new airport in Hong Kong is also incredibly disorganized.
Well, that’s life in Asia. The teaching is going well.

Tretes
Emily and I just returned from Tretes, a mountain village, a few minutes ago. We were actually at a church retreat. I didn’t burst into flames as I entered church property so I suppose my soul is safe for the moment. It was nice. It was quite relaxing. By some miracle of divine intervention, or just dumb luck, the God Squad didn’t attempt to lure me into their ranks. Emily has been very understanding about my quiet time. She knows that I believe. She doesn’t understand why I feel no overwhelming need to wave my hands in the air and scream “GOD IS GREAT!”
Personally, I think the big guy knows the score, and flattery ain’t gonna help if you screw up.

Life is going well.
I would like to return to doing some design work, but right now, and right here, I can provide for my family by teaching. It’s not so bad. I enjoy teaching, and I’m good at it.
How’s the gig?
I call home once a month.
We hope to be home by next October.

We just celebrated Year One.
On Saturday, December 19. At 7:00pm. We celebrated our 1st anniversary with a fish and lobster BBQ. Didn’t you get your invitation? It would have been nice to have you there.
Singapore
I was in Singapore for a couple of nights. I’m quite happy to be home. I stayed in a little hotel near Chinatown. Monday was the Hindu festival, Deepavali … the victory of good over evil. Boy, are they optimistic. Most of the city was as boring as ever. After this last trip, I don’t think I’ll think of Singapore in quite the same way as I used to.
A visit to the noodle house near the hotel quickly dispelled any lingering notions of Singapore’s sterility. The midnight crowd consisted of three very mean looking Chinese men, four intoxicated Indians, and three of the ugliest, toughest looking hookers this side of a biker movie. I spent most of my time just walking around in Singapore. I hate shopping malls, so Singapore quickly grates on me. It is nice just to pick a direction and stroll for a few hours.
With the current situation here, walking around isn’t really advisable. When I first came here I walked everywhere, and at anytime. Now we have daylight robberies, and midnight decapitations. All this for just pennies a day.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …
We just went through some minor renovations on the house. Most of the major work had been done at the same time as the rioting. If you can imagine watching coats of white paint being applied, plaster slapped on, and tiles replaced and buffed even as news reports of burning, riots and looting filled the airwaves; you can begin imagine the admixture of shock, anger, fear, fits of lunatic humor, cabin fever and darn fool stubbornness that gripped this household for a few weeks.

Emily’s Business

We’re exporting crabs right now. We have a small interest in lobster exports as well.
Since we only started last January, we still have a lot to learn. Most business here has a shelf life of a few months. Suppliers have no customer loyalty, and the concept of taking less hasn’t sunk into fishermen, exporters or buyers. I sometimes fear I may be party to ecological rape, and economic suicide.
For us it’s been a good experience. We made a good profit at the start, and then the bottom fell out of the market. We stopped exporting for a month. Emily’s business was on hiatus. We’ve been up again for a couple of weeks.

My own job goes merrily along
I’ve just taken a few more hours, for a few more Rupiah. I’m still studying Bahasa Indonesian. It’s coming along. It’s stressful, but it’s a great feeling to be able to throw a phrase together. I’m also better able to explain things to students, and that makes a world of difference. I still avoid speaking anything but English in class, since the students are quite ready and willing to take the cue to waste on hour while you steer them back to English. Everything is a balancing act here. Well, that’s teaching.

Traditions
Daily life, family and religion; three shows daily under one roof. Emily and the kids were Buddhist up until a few years ago. After Emily’s father died, she converted. The Christian religion here is probably closest to Baptist. Ain’t that a frightening thought. Hey, I’m Catholic. Our idea of faith is a quick confession, three Hail Mary’s and call me next Sunday. The churches here all seem to be of the charismatic variety. Which means, of course, that you’ve got your shouters, your shakers, your dancers, your prancers, your enthusiastic wavers and your quiet and composed prayers. I’m the quiet, uncomfortable one. I’m the sole practitioner of a splinter religion.
The kids have never had a traditional Christmas dinner. Emily had her first turkey dinner on our honeymoon in Singapore last year. She also saw her first Lion dance. We visited a cultural exposition.
I’ve made some changes in my life. I’ve actually attended church a few times. Emily and the kids go every Sunday. I’m trying to adjust, but I have to be honest; traditional Christianity still confuses me. I’ve also been able to witness the Buddhism that’s practiced here. We’ve attended a few weddings, and a few too many funerals.
Emily’s Mom, who lives with us, is Buddhist. The adjustment to such a close-knit family has been rewarding, irritating, incredible, frustrating, and ultimately highly recommended. Emily’s two sisters and her brother are also Buddhist.
Indonesia’s Buddhism is probably as fetish oriented as Korean Buddhism, with its chants, incense and rituals, but it’s somehow encouraging to see any culture survive under such adverse conditions. A full blown Buddhist funeral is quite interesting. From the chanting, to the pacing of the maidens(no I’m not kidding), to the burning of the house, money, major appliances, cars and servants. These flammable offering are, thankfully, all paper representations.
Although I’m interested in knowing more about everything, unlike other tourists in Bali I had no wish to intrude on such a personal time. I can only imagine how these ‘Gomers’ would feel if a crowd showed up at ol’ Aunt Tilly’s sendoff.
“Don’t mind us folks, we’re just here to soak up the culture.” “Could you lift up Aunt Tilly’s chin a bit more. Now put this wine glass …”

And Then …
We had been hoping to get to Canada at Christmas, but it appears we’ll wait until late September,1999. My teaching schedule keeps expanding, and while that may be good for our bank account it doesn’t leave much free time. My wife has just returned from China, and we’ve been catching up. Between work and family I haven’t had much time to even open my mail, much less reply to it. I’m currently dealing with a sinus infection. Emily has been great about preparing hot towels for me. Twenty minutes with those, and I can face the day.
Just so you don’t think I’ve married some weak-willed Geisha, this helping works both ways. I’ve actually found a way to help Emily with her occasional migraines. I paid close attention to the old woman that gives us massages. I can now give a pretty decent foot massage. This has helped relieve Emily’s pain to the point that she can sleep. She only has one or two migraines a month, but I know it hurts like hell.

Things are calm here now.

My friend Chris is also working at Ciputra. He and I have been teaching elementary school classes. Try to picture the two of us surrounded by rabid toddlers. Kind of scary, uh?
I hope Christmas finds you and your family safe and together. We’ll have Christmas dinner at one of the hotels. It’s well nigh impossible to find a turkey in a local supermarket, so we have to depend on the International hotels. We’re safe and we hope to enjoy our Christmas in a more or less Traditional manner.

Anniversary
On Saturday, December 19. At 7:00pm. We celebrated our 1st anniversary with a fish and lobster BBQ. Didn’t you get your invitation? It would have been nice to have you there.
I’ll write more later.

Hello again I haven’t heard from anyone for awhile.

Adryan has been helping more with the business lately.I suppose we have the beginning of a family legacy.
I’m up late because our dogs are indulging in their two favorite sports; chasing rats and pissing off Wayne.Rocky is the silent and resourceful hunter.He stakes out a spot; waits for the first signs of movement; then pounces.
He has also learned to pry the kitchen door open. In itself this isn’t a problem, and would be a good reason to cheer his innovation and intelligence. It’s just that this allows cats, and a particular gray bastard, to enter the house.
These cats, and certainly my particular favorite, has delighted in climbing atop the kitchen table and partaking of the assorted bounty. In the process they have broken plates, glasses, and God knows how many bowls.Aside from having almost no sleep for three months, life is going well.
Work is good, the business is good, and Surabaya is quiet.I think Emily and I will be back in Canada by October. We hope to stay for four or five weeks. We’ll probably be joined by Emily’s mom and her sisters.I’m working too many damn hours.I’m trying not to be a workaholic.
I avoid alcohol enough now, so that’s not the worry it was.I find it difficult to turn away hours, but it has become a bit much.Life here is going well.
Occasionally there are bumps.We have a good life here, but I miss family, friends and a familiar landscape. I would love to return to Canada. There would be two conditions though:Could I find a decent job, and could Emily find work.Indonesia, or perhaps it’s just teaching, is stressing me out right now, but it’s the only viable gig I have.
I’m qualified to do other things.I’d like to write, I’d love to design, and it would be great to feel creative again … but will it pay?I’d love to just teach computers, or writing again.
My buddy Chris and I have been talking about a couple of scripts. I know I can write, but I don’t know thing one about marketing a script.The idea that keeps cropping up when you talk to people is a story about this life.There are eight million stories in the naked city, as the narrator said.
Maybe there are 10 or 15 really decent stories.