Dear All,

Bali is not Africa. (oh, really?), here no weekly or even daily situations – positive or negative – life is more of a calm and quiet stream. Mister Par and his son were ill and finally forced to stay in bed – not good because no work means no income. But going to a doctor, not them. It’s common knowledge that doctors sometimes give injections and they didn’t even want to think about it. This time it ended well, they work again. I hear other stories in which it didn’t, people died. Doctors…

In the meantime I have a dog again but maybe I’ve made the same mistake as in Africa with Dopie, it’s a friendly dog. He wags his tail to whoever comes in the yard, sits up and offers his pow. How are you doing? Only the fish in the pond are his enemies, he barks at them fanatically, the fish don’t bother. That friendliness was not what I was looking for, I was hoping for a dog that would frighten burglars. Now I can only hope that the burglars don’t know about the dogs softness. His name is wrongly chosen as well, it’s Zoef (pronounce Souf). Balinese usually pronounce an F as a P so it becomes soup. A soup dog, not good. (I’m usually mister Perang which also means war.) The burglars are in custody, the police got them. It was a couple; one person from Java – ‘now, you see?’ is the Balinese reaction. The other is Balinese. Oeps. Fortunately he’s from far, from Buleleng which in the very north, so it’s not really… you know. The police took them through the neighborhood so that they could point out where they did it. It’s a good thing, says mister Par, that they did it on a rainy night. Otherwise the people here would have beaten them up. (!)

Now I have to go to the police. They probably have the stolen goods – there were nine burglaries in this area and it cannot have disappeared just like that – but there is a potential problem. From different sides I hear it’s going to cost me money. Pay half of the value of the stuff to the police, a sort of finders wage, then I still have my goods back at a very low price. Is what the Balinese say. Well, I don’t think so. The whole day now I’m doing a mister Rabbit. (for those that don’t know the story of mr. Rabbit, it’s below).

Recently there were a few video’s on the net, as far as I know on television also, about corruption here in Bali. Man (journalist) drives motor without helm and without drivers-license, pays € 16,– to a police officer and can drive on. It would have been better to warn against the dangers of driving without a helm on this island (anywhere I guess) instead of sensation seeking journalism. Nevertheless the was quite a bit of commotion around here. Dewa, the driver with whom I went to Denpasar the other day thought it a shame and it was, in his opinion, good that that policeman was fired. During the very same trip we are stopped by the police. Dewa is not wearing his safety-belt. With routine he puts Rupiah 10.000.– (about € 0,80) in his drivers-license and within 5 seconds we can go on. When I bought my motor there was no numberplate, accompanied by a license. Such a thing takes about ten days. No problem though; the dealer put on some false plates and I could drive. ‘But what if I’m stopped by the police?’ No problem, 20.000 rupiah (€1,60). This is no secret knowledge that is whispered in my ear, it’s common knowledge. There is also a price to become policeman, customs-officer or civil servant. Not cheap but it pays itself back in no time. It’s endearing how officials react to the video’s. ‘This is terrible, people might start to think that the police is corrupt!’ Ah well, maybe it makes the police a bit more lenient when I have to pick up my things tomorrow, maybe I’ll get them for free.

The NRA (National Rifle Association) did it again. The most sensible laws to control weapons, just a tiny little bit, were blocked by congressmen and senators that see huge parts of their election campaign financed by that very same NRA. You advertise yourself as keeper of the interests of the people and once you’re elected, you go for your own interest and power. You’ll get far with shitty arguments, made up by spin-doctors and when worse comes to worse, you can always say sorry. And next elections there will be money from the NRA again to polish you imago as shiny as possible. People forget easily, not only in the US. Whether it’s about banks, churches, politicians, ever greedy multinationals or whatever. Sorry. Yes but you created a crisis, the company is robbed empty and bankrupt, lives of people are in shambles, an asylum seeker is dead. I did say sorry didn’t I?

Does it ever happen to you that you’re in a period in which you think that it’ll never be okay again. not with the world and not with yourself? I didn’t inherit the iron optimism of my mother. She drives through her life (wheelchair) with happiness and I sometimes find it hard to just be happy, knowing what I know. Her expression ‘it will be over before you’re a girl’ drove me nuts when I was young. In trouble and on top of it a mother that told platitudes. It has taken long before I could see that, behind those airy words, there was the wisdom of being happy with what is. She shows it, every day, and makes her happiness work towards a better world. Now me. For now I read that last year a €,– was spent on arms. That depression of mine might take a few more days.

with love, Frank

Mister Rabbit.

Mr. Rabbit has to mow the lawn and that’s not a small thing if you have a big lawn and only a small scissors. For days now he’s postponing it but suddenly he has an idea.

‘My friend, mr. Bear, my good friend, he has a lawnmower. I can go and lend it from him.’

And there he goes, to the next block where mr. Bear lives.

‘Nah’ he thinks while walking, ‘of course mr. Bear is extremely careful with his stuff but hey, I’m his friend, it won’t be a problem.’

‘At least I hope so, always that over-careful attitude of his. I’m his friend for goodness sake’.

‘I can see him letting his friends down just like that, that Bear. It’s a shame.’

‘You’ll see, he won’t lend me the machine. Well, if that’s the way it is, I don’t even want it anymore.’

‘Stupid Bear’.

In the meantime he has reached the house of mr. Bear and he rings the doorbell. Mr Bear opens the door.

‘Hi mr. Rabbit, good to see you!’

‘You know what Bear’ mr Rabbit replies with his face red of anger, ‘you can stick that lawnmower up in your …’










who cares

Dear All,

Maybe I should have seen it coming last Thursday evening – a black cat walked in my house, no idea where he came from. When the next day I saw that the front-door was forced open by a burglar, I only thought something like ‘oh, here we go again’. Not even terribly angry of shocked, just another break-in, not the first one. In Africa I counted nine. I had been away for less than an hour and the laptop was gone. The rest was still there, I thought… A break-in is a serious reason for a drink and that’s what I did, I took a drink. Frans came for moral support, Ketut and Par came. We discussed a dubious story, the burglars must have known that I was away for a little while, that I had a nice leather bag for the laptop… and no-one understands how they opened the door. It doesn’t solve a thing but in a case like this a long talk is good and that’s what we did. And then to bed. The first night wasn’t too bad really (drink?), the second night was Africa revisited. Not the beauty of which I keep boxes and boxes full but sweaty, nightly hours – the last few month haven’t been without in anyway – intensified. There is lot more gone than a laptop…

Today relaxed writing on my terrace. The weather is beautiful although warm, I look at my pond that, earlier this week, overnight was full of water hyacinths. Wonderful surprise in the morning. They are gone already, they lasted a few days only, but now it’s full of lotus flowers. More or less the queen of water-plants. Stately and aristocratic they keep their heads up in the middle of the pond. It’s a Sunday of enjoying. And some things went perfectly well this week. I found an engraver who can, beautifully, engrave tiny little characters in glass (sand-blasting) at very affordable rates. And I could, not funny, buy a new laptop of course. I drove around on my bike quite a lot, on two wheels through the curbs but that’s normal with a bike, and I was lucky with the traffic, I could enjoy along the roads. The help in the house isn’t here (I can’t say maid can I), the builders next door aren’t there either most of the time because it was Galungan. A Balinese celebration that lasts for a number of days, twice a year. Lots of offerings full of fruit and flowers, and all that the gods don’t take goes to me. Yep, all of it, indeed. A full fridge. I do, quite new for me, fruit-breakfast, fruity lunch and fruit-desserts. Just after Galungan it’s Kuningan, another celebration yesterday and today, again with lots of offerings. In front of every house there is a penjor, a very long, beautiful decorated, bamboo pole. In many streets it has become a competition of ‘which one is most beautiful (expensive?)‘. Prestige is the first price and whole months of salary are invested. The despotism of a religion I think but soon I correct myself, it has nothing to do with religion. No god asks for (too) expensive penjors. Nor for golden crosses with gemstones or whatever status enhancing nonsense one may think of. The difference of wanting that expensive brand clothing and a bigger, more beautiful penjor is of course that you can blame religion for the penjor. Although… a nice suit to go to church on Sunday, isn’t that… The difference between culture and religion; not always easy it seems. Hirsi Ali doesn’t grab it in her book ‘My Freedom‘ and Wilders went, on the same subject, flat on his face in an interview with O’Keefe. He didn’t know much more to say than ‘I don’t care’. One would hope it was self-knowledge; I don’t care. In the polls, pure nonsense by the way, his party is number one again. Hello people, he doesn’t care. Or is that a recommendation? People wanted that do care. The quality of solidarity shows itself in difficult times, it doesn’t make optimistic to see what’s happening. Yes minister, you can try to sell self-interest as development-aid. I’m sure that the ‘don’t cares‘ will agree. You see! But it’s the clothes of the emperor. Rebuild the whole system. Kick those, business class flying, four wheel drive driving, development-guru’s out. Have a very critical look at each and every program and go work with the ‘do cares’. And stand together. Yes I do care, we don’t see that often enough.

I saw an American X-Factor broad-casted, people with a lot of talent and also those with no talent at all, were in the show. I’m convinced they are pre-selected, if they didn’t the jury would be confronted with thousands and thousands of candidates. They choose spectacle for their public. A confused gay young man – confused because he thought he was a star, a diva even, although he didn’t show any sign of any talent at all. The public booed him, the jury was rude to him. Then he made a mistake; he told the jury what he thought. Sinking deeper and deeper in a swamp of aversion from public and jury, he gave the shocked jury a piece of his mind till he almost had to be removed by security. The jury is furious, never before something like this happened. Famous stars humiliated by a.., yeah by what actually? A victim? The Romans (and not the Romans only I believe) organized spectacles in which people were thrown for the lions. Or wild elephants, or whatever dangerous, the purpose was to enjoy the terrible suffering of another human being and – positive note – at the same time criminals were punished. They were supposed to let themselves be slaughtered, the unlikely sensation of a victim that would tear the lion in pieces was appreciated but it was, of course, not the plan that those guys would start to insult emperor of senators. The boy from X-Factor probably cannot go over street anymore, he also made, unknowingly, a fool of himself. And nobody stopped him, nobody protected him against himself. I tend to think that he was selected for his eccentric behaviour. Bread and circuses, who cares? Ah, it’s just some thoughts because I’m worried about a rapidly decreasing solidarity. Without that bonding agent this world, a small world in which islands simply don’t exist anymore, doomed to fall apart in parties, hostile to each other. I comfort myself with the thought that this blog is directed towards people that do care.

with love