Tyrants

Dear All

Within my own norms too late with the blog but hey, jam karet, rubber time here. Lots to do with finishing work for a small show, it’s called intermezzo, that’s supposed to open coming Sunday. Little time for anything else. In the meantime the guys up in the sky do realize it’s the dry season so I have to water the garden every day. This morning I woke up and opened my mail. I’m glad it’s unusual but today a mail that put the day on the wrong trail. Confusion, anger, upset… everything at once. Then, at the neighbours, grandparents start to play with their grandchild. The kid cries of joy and so do the grandparents. How I, at least for a while, become disturbed by those noises is a riddle to me indeed. Hello Frank, you woke up this morning, the sun in shining and a kid has fun. Learning the same again and again, is that like a rehearsal?  

Saturday was the day for the machines. Mem Par, my help, was quite loose about it, the kiln and other machines didn’t have to participate but the motorbike couldn’t do without an upacara, a ceremony. I had the bike washed, a bike also goes clean to its ceremony, and drove to the house of the Pars where the bike got blessed and a number of offerings were attached to steering wheel and headlight. Better play safe. Lots of people at the garage where they wash bikes, all clean into the new year. The owner of the place knows me and helped me unreasonably quick. Later I saw bikes with offerings everywhere. Again, better play it safe. That most drivers didn’t wear a helmet and quite some of them were eleven years of age or so is not the point. It was about the bikes, that’s what counts. Upacara’s are still all over the place, now a two-day ceremony for the house-temple, to be performed twice a year. It’s so much; I don’t follow anymore. And last week an exuberant super cremation – yes people, such a thing does exist – with an enormous tower to carry the body in and a bull of at least five meters high. The cables over the street had to be disconnected, otherwise the circus couldn’t pass by. It costs tens of thousands of Euro’s, also this time it was for someone of the Ubud royal family. According to Frans they are happy to do it, they make money with the film- and broadcasting-rights. Could very well be. Hey grandpa, we need money, what do you think…

The pool is ready and it looks great. I can hardly believe that I, I mean I, have a swimming pool in my own garden but it’s a fact. The overflow did leak a little bit the first day but that’s fixed now and yesterday I made my first swim in my own pool. As of now I’ll swim every day and I expect it will take not more than a week or three before I’m a well muscled Adonis. More after I succeed.Image

Zoef the dog and my mother, they have nothing in common. But still… Zoef is trying to tell me something and often I do understand, ever so often I don’t. And then – yes I agree, it’s silly – I have to think about my mother. She had aphasia and I often wondered how it was possible that I understood what she meant. Yip yip yip and, let me think for a minute… oh yes, uncle Arie has his birthday next week. No idea where I got it from, threads we don’t have to understand. Sometimes it didn’t work and then I saw despair in her eyes as she saw in mine. Despair in the eyes of your mother, that cuts deep. To think about my mother because of the dog, maybe it’s not right but I’m working on accepting she is not here anymore and maybe because of that she’s everywhere. A friend was right when he said that if your mother dies at 92 and you’re in total shambles, you didn’t prepare yourself for life. My mother was 93 and I miss her. Sadness is part of life, better give it the room it needs. (An impressive text from Islamic origin below this blog)

The partner of a journalist that published information leaked by Snowden was hold and interrogated for nine hours – someone figured that nine hours is okay without any charge – at London Heathrow. According to the police he carried life-threatening information. Funny enough they let him go after those nine hours without laying any charges. At The Guardian hard disks were destroyed, the British PM initiated that action. A Dutch minister plans using drones to keep an eye on people. Bugging, tapping, intercept emails, keep an eye on us. And I have to believe it’s all worth it. Terrorists surely are stupid enough to keep on sharing their little plans – e.g. in Jemen – over the phone and in emails. Next to the tyranny of too much big money another monster emerges; big brother. Under the pretext ‘if you don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t bother you, now does it’ we’re abused by a un-controlled mafia for whom freedom and human rights are bothersome – at least. It’s time to remember what H.M. van Randwijk wrote on a monument in Amsterdam. ‘A nation that gives in to tyrants will loose more than life and goods, the light will extinguish…’  

In numerous places in the world tyrants do their destructive work, gazed at by a powerless UN and Security Council, it’s too easy to not see or underestimate the dangers in our own house. But a nation that gives in to tyrants… Governments with the vision of a calculator, bowing to multi-nationals – the creators of work – who, when it comes down it, don’t care about jobs at all. The Rabobank, a cooperation!,  sees it’s profits go down a little bit and right away numbers of people are kicked out. And that is, unfortunately, nothing unique. It’s us, we ourselves, who accept these things and have our little part of the pie. The conviction that we are supporting a system, politics and economics, totally wrong is probably not popular but I can’t see it any other way.

It does happen that I criticize Bali and the way people here are dealing with things but also; come to Bali and see the pride in honest work. Discover how e.g. the builders of the pool take pride and dignity in the fact that for an honest price, enough to have a pleasant life, they made something that is good and nice to look at. Meet a smiling Pak Par who is happy with the result of his work. And compare that attitude with any multinational. A nation that gives in to tyrants will loose more than life and goods, the light will extinguish.

Love, Frank.

 

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi (Persia, now Tajikistan) 1207 – 1273

Saraswati

Image

Dear All,

Traffic in Bali is not exactly well organized. There is enough that is forbidden but not that strong. Defensive driving is required for not getting in big, big trouble. Look in front, behind, to the side and on the road of course, there are potholes here and there, big enough to ruin your bike and more. Around this time of year it’s even more critical, marching groups of kids that assume they own the road all over the island. The most fanatic one in the class goes up front – one two three four, one two three four – they scream it out. The rest walks behind the leader, in the military way, serious face, their arms swinging along their bodies. It’s sad a sight, children and militarism don’t go well together. All because of August 17, Independence day of Indonesia. The day is still celebrated with lots of militant show off. Celebrating is nice and good in my opinion, the way in which it is celebrated much less. There are still Dutchmen of the opinion that real independence only came in December 1949, being the date that the Netherlands agreed to it. Few of those that were active in that era are still alive, it’s all far back in history now. That the traces of war survive much longer, ah, what’s new. Marching children….

Yesterday it was Saraswati, a festive day in Bali. Something like a day for the traditional healers. Early in the morning, on my balcony, I could hear the squeaking of wrongly adjusted loudspeakers. Earlier even I woke up by the sound of singing kids. Balinese have a feel for melody and rhythm, not for singing. Later all sorts of activities started, mostly around a temple. And it did cost money.., again. Offering is part of life, an ever more inflated practice that has all to do with prestige and nothing or hardly anything with religion. In the meantime it brings quite some Balinese in trouble. When the people of the banjar, say village, came to collect the money for the waste collection they also had a letter for me. It was a request for a donation to the festivities around the blessing of the renovated temple. Probably to give me an indication in which direction I should think they put the costs of it in writing. 1.200.000.000 rupiah, that is about US$ 120.00.– I red it three times, thought that I was at least mistaken one zero but no, it was correct. US$ 120.000.– for a community of 250 families. That comes down to almost two months salary per family. For now every family is supposed to come up with $ 270.—(more than a month of salary), may be paid in instalments. Rest will follow after the ceremony is done.

How it works exactly I found out yesterday when my contractor came to lend the money to pay those costs. Before today everything had to be paid, otherwise the names of those that didn’t pay (yet) would be announced during that very same ceremony in the temple. A very effective tactic, the shame would be unbearable. A community rooted in fear. ‘Worshipping the gods as a means to be ‘better than you’, who doesn’t follow suit is …….. because that person obviously doesn’t give a rats ass about the gods and thus is bad. The frightening spiral of fanaticism. I find it difficult to deal with. How much can you say, is one allowed to say anything at all? In careful conversations with Pak Par, the contractor, we agree that no god would demand this and that the money could and should be spend in better ways. And this is not the only time that ridiculous amounts are demanded; the list is endless. In the west spending a month of salary on offers is for most undoable, here it comes close to financial suicide. But to withstand the social pressure seems not an option, you are part of the community or a pariah. You choose. As soon as Pak Par got the money he went to pay, quickly and relieved. I wonder if my careful rattling on a building of dictatorship is of any use at all. In the end it’s the Balinese that have to change their ways. Or not, it’s up to them.

I met D. and his wife, Australians in their seventies. They come to Bali more often, love it here and want to buy a house. ‘What a wonderful life you have, and so interesting’ thinks D. ‘Just do what you want, I’ve worked my ass of all my life, day and night, and didn’t take the time to enjoy. But ah, times were like that.’ I think I do understand him, I’m from the same school but was lucky enough to be able to choose for a bit less. It’s a strange phenomenon that maybe you have to get older to pay attention to what really counts although, it’s probably a win if you get there in the first place.

Gays should not be judged says the pope. That’s nice, very nice. From several Vatican watchers I understand that it is mainly because of political reasons that he can’t go any further than that nonsensical statement. Nonsensical because when you believe in that god it would be impossible not to accept a part of his creation. Political motivated, in the shoes of the fisherman. Do I hear a rooster crow?

The swimming pool is almost ready now. I think this is the third newsletter in which I announce that but you know, ceremonies, ceremonies… If all works out well I can start my days with a dive by the end of the coming week. Next week a niece of mine is visiting, so she can swim as well. She is in Sumba now, a bit of a special destination, much less tourists. I’ll tell her that her grandmother and my mother were already there eighteen years ago. In an old landrover through a sort of dry river to the top of a mountain. ‘I don’t understand’ said our driver, ‘I was here last week with two young Germans and they were scared as can be, your aunt and your mum are laughing all the way’. ‘They don’t know what can go wrong’ I answered. Maybe that was so, more likely they had decided to enjoy and trust that all would be okay. I should do that more often too.

Love,  Frank