Just for your information: if you ever make the trip from Africa to Europe in one of those ramshackle boats, then one of these is waiting for you.

Sam Kutesa, minister of foreign affairs for Uganda, defender of that ridiculous law there, became president of the general assembly of the UN. Chosen unanimously.

Nabeela Rehman from Pakistan, 9 years old, spoke in the VS congress. Not like Malala as a victim of Taliban violence but as the victim of an American drone. Her grandmother was killed by one of those in front of her eyes. Sorry Nabeela, not a welcome message, the congress has 345 members, 5 showed up.

Dear All,

In the house I see frogs all the time, most of them jump around in the bathroom. Incredibly small frogs (or is it toads?), when you thought that baby-fingers are small you haven’t seen the legs of those frogs. Almost microscopic but with everything to it, I’m glad that I’m enough of a child to see the miracle. Nevertheless, those frogs are lost in a house where there is nothing for them. And kiss them all is undoable and then, suppose there is a prince in one of them, what do I get? Have princes ever been what they used to be? If you kiss the wrong one, that can happen, you get one of those useless jet setters. So I let them jump and most of them find their way out again.

History repeats itself. Presidential elections are coming up and one of the two candidates reminded me a little of Obama, that little became a lot recently. Jokowi, his name is Joko Widodo but that’s how he’s called, is ‘accused’ of not being a muslim. Same problem reversed. I can not vote here of course and I carefully keep my opinion to myself here but silently I hope Jokowi will win. The other choice, Prabowo, ex son in law of Suharto, played a dubious role during the uproar in 1998, being associated with Suharto is not a positive thing. The support he gets from idiots that want everybody, voluntarily or forced, to share their views and join worshipping a caricature of a god, born from hate and fear, is frightening.

So it would be Jokowi if I could choose. On top of that, somewhere there must be a picture of me at a dinner with Jokowi when he was still mayor of Solo. If he becomes president I’ll have that picture enlarged and hang it on a prominent spot. Should be fun. When there is a problem I look at that picture and mutter that ‘It’s maybe best I’ll call my friend first…’ And a small contact in my wallet, for problems on the road?

I write as if there are a lot of problems and that isn’t so. Sure, a lot of things are different and sometimes hard to understand, also here not every day is party only, but it doesn’t take an extensive study to know that we are very well of. Just pay attention and be realistic and you know. Nothing bores me more than those total idiots that scream the Netherlands is like a banana republic, nothing so pathetic than those that everything in the world is there to please them. Reading “Borderline Times”, a book by de Wachter, it came to mind again. We don’t want to be bothered. “To be bothered is not for me and to bother, not me, not me.” And that’s not true of course – yes mam, I know now, diapers full of s..t from day one. De Wachter draws quite a few, I think justified, conclusions from it, basically saying that being human, something that only is possible in connection with the other, implies that now and then we bother each other. To know it goes both ways helps, love for each other – that’s what I think to it – makes it into a not even unpleasant routine. That, if things really go wrong, we have apart from a judge also mob justice, is a frightening development that goes against it. In the Netherlands I thank ‘de Telegraaf’, a pamphlet that calls itself a newspaper and manages to be on the wrong side since at least the thirties of the last century.

A minister in the Netherlands in the meantime gave the advice to start a vegetable garden as part of ones pension. So I’m busy to make a big switch here. Palm trees out because only a coconut once in a while.., bunga kertas, gembang sepatu, batavia and alamanda, all those exotic flowers cut, the grass becomes ricefield, maybe kangung (waterspinach) in the pool. With thanks to the minister for sharing, with pity for all the losers that live in an apartment, harsh times are coming boys and girls, make a plan.

About money; W., the help, is proud of herself. For years now they are building a small extension at home and now they needed paint. P., her husband sent her to a shop down the road but she thought it expensive. An hour shopping, four shops in the wide surroundings of Ubud and finally she found it 1,5 dollar cheaper. Happy; “Same brand Pak, even the same colour!”

At the silversmith, almost 70 K from here, it was very nice again. Great how those people developed themselves during the last twenty years into self thinking people, happy on top of it. I was there to talk about a project and the pleasant mix of openness, mutual respect and appreciation – without anything like being submissive, is certainly in Bali a relief. I see it more often by the way, discussing a wrong executed order for shell-work went the same way; what can we do to solve the problem, what can we do to improve. It’s something that often misses, ‘here only?’ I think when I write this.

I hear they want to grow tea in the north of Bali. Tea, long past it was one of the pillars of the richness of the kingdom, reason not to let go of ‘our colonies’, later is became a rather dull drink for in the morning. Usually from silly little bags, invented by a manufacturer whom didn’t know what to do else with all the broken leaves and the dust. Its image became even worse when the former mayor of Amsterdam used to go and drink a cup of tea together where there were problems. And problems there were… Not appreciated by most, no bs please, no understanding and trying to build bridges, hard action is what most wanted. Tea… But, panta rei… There was the tea party in the US. Rabid conservatives, in favour of weapons and all for capital punishment, against most involvement of the state, for a free market, opposed to humanity that costs money. Their wish list is a few items longer still. In the meantime they cherish their homemade Christian values – it’s a good thing the authors of the bible don’t live to see it. Tea became, also in the Netherlands, popular again. And the ladies in the Preanger, and in future maybe here in Bali, they work their but of for a lousy salary. But that’s something the tea party doesn’t bother about.

Love, Frank


A crack

Now, if you like football (soccer) – I admit it’s something alien to me really – but if you like soccer, then you wouldn’t want corrupt old men to line their pockets with your money, would you? Then you wouldn’t want to be associated with exploitation of workers in Qatar, with forced removals in Brazil and you would understand that the ability to kick the ball a bit harder doesn’t justify ridiculous salaries, right? Then you wouldn’t be interested for even a tiny little bit in soccer men and women that throw their party or divorce – sometimes simultaneously – in the media. Then you would just play a nice game of soccer, wouldn’t you?

Dear All

Getting older; the only remedy my mother knew was so rigorous and horrible that becoming old remained the better option. And the possibilities in Bali, especially in the village I live in, are literally too good to be true. “Ten years younger in two weeks.” So if I invest a month or three I can start at zero again? And inside? There are wrinkles, folds and cracks as well. Let it be that way. A sentence I heard this week, it’s from a song of Leonard Cohen: “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”*** appeals to me. Better a bit older although I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a bit double about it. “Who wants to live forever” sang Queen. I’m the first to say thank you, but no, thank you. The small inconveniences and the fact that “one can see it”, it’s (at least for now) very bearable and the bonus, understanding a bit more of life is, although sometimes a bit depressing, in general very attractive. The unrest about all that still has to be done isn’t gone (yet), in fact it’s better that doesn’t go. The illusion that we, the people of my generation, would solve everything – build a just and honest world – is worn out over the years. Not a reason to stop working though. On the contrary, since the beginning of humankind we’re behind schedule and to say it’s time is a saddening euphemism. The awe and amazement about being a human in the meantime, sometimes mixes with displeasure about my limitations to change things. Working on ones own square meter, yes. But on my square meter there is a tv and the laptop spits out newspapers, every day… The killers in high places, how come they can stay? And no Mr Franciscus, getting more children won’t help, on the contrary.

I think you understand by know, it was my birthday and – is there a proper time for it? – a made a sort of mid-term review. A little at least, it just happened. I’m thankful and as far as my own situation is concerned, happy, very happy. If one really does his utmost – without ignoring all shortcomings but there is not much one can do than accept them – the fact that not everything works out doesn’t have to hurt. That it hurts a bit anyway is because I know d…..d well I can do better. Going on and better is all that’s left. It’s Pentecost, celebration of ardour. Yep, I’ll have some of that please, a bit more, that’s fine.

A bit more? Without much ado The Netherlands dropped the percentage of the GNP spend on aid from 0,7 to 0,6%. Yeah, we do an awful lot. (The 0,7 was an internationally agreed norm but by now two or three Scandinavian countries comply, the rest thinks less is fine too.) Now it turns out that GNP in Holland went up so, that aid should go up too. No, among others, the Christian party thinks that that money is ours. Aid should go through trade. In the meantime that same party defends all the subsidies that go to farmers, making competition for African farmers and others impossible. More trade, what do they mean? Own interest dressed up as compassion. To sell that as a Christian thing, well, you need guts, I admit that.

P’s daughter is going to get married. Last night she came home with the quite surprising – nobody even knew she had a boyfriend – news, she found a partner in Gianyar. She can’t get married right now, W. her mother says. We just had Galungan and Kuningan and there is another ceremony this week (500.000 Rp.), it’ll have to be the end of the month. And I, what is meant by older and wiser, couldn’t keep my mouth shut. AGAIN is said in capitals, do you realize it’s getting more and more. Do you know it was way less and much more simple in the past? Money enough I guess, loaded uh? The answer was a giggle. Stupid westerner, doesn’t understand a thing of it. I you wonder why I was sticking my nose in, that makes two of us.

I’ve written it before, here in Bali children may not fall. (Grown-ups not either in fact.) Be ashamed if you make a mistake. Now I read articles that make me think that children in the west may not fall anymore either. Now you can order apps to know where your kids are 24/7. You’ll always know where they are and, in case of an accident, you’ll be, depending on the way you can run, as one of the first on the spot. Now wait a second… what sort of grown-ups will those kids become? I’m in my grandfather role anyway so I can easily go on a bit. Fifty years ago we didn’t go 1, 2 or 3 km from our home, we took our pushbikes and went to other places, 25 km down the road. One time we did 40 but that indeed made some eyebrows rise. A trip to Almelo, 80 km by bike, to a friend’s grandma, was okay though, we told where we were going. Just call when you’re there (use the phone at the neighbours). We walked in the woods for hours, as long as we were home before dark all was fine. Of course, traffic is a bigger risk although that’s not much different in front of the house than 10 km away. (why we accept that traffic horror is another story). Scary freaks also existed in those days, we were aware of that. Why is it that nowadays it’s all dangerous and thus unwanted? Why are there rubber tiles, way beyond the climbing rack in the playground? If I’m not allowed to fall anymore, I’d better stay put in this chair. No danger, no effect. Sorry, no, they’re going to hear from me.
Love, Frank
*** “Anthem”

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government –
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen