Always home

Just something in the news: ‘The results of Apple disappoint, in the last quarter the growth was only six percent.’

Dear All,

I sit on my terrace. It’s 11 o’clock at night and warm. The flight was long, on the airport it was a mess, a suitcase was gone for hours and the trip to Penestanan was, to put it in a positive mode, a challenge. And now, home. Two weeks in the Netherlands and it was great. To see all the friends again, it put Holland under water a bit now and then. Because, although I lived out of a suitcase for week, that is home as well. To be connected to others, the world in human proportions. Home is the base, a starting point. And now it’s me here, and you there again. Holland was good.

‘We have all seen it’, I read in some newspaper. Well, I haven’t and I hope and assume you haven’t either. What does it add? Who would want to look at something for which the words are already too perverted to read? James Foley was not the first, he was certainly not the only victim; the grounds on which his death hits us harder are dubious and… still understandable. Maybe we try to lock out the horrors of this world as much as possible. If a name and a face are added, that doesn’t work anymore. If it’s about a human being that could be someone we know, who could’ve been a friend, it hits us hard, very hard.

It seems to me that specially these months there is a continuous stream of attacks on our feelings of being safe. Let connectedness be our home then.

What I don’t understand is the call, from many sides, for Muslims to distance themselves from what’s happening. If that becomes a rule soon we all will have to distance ourselves from the world. In a crooked view like that there is no need for my Christian neighbor to denounce IS(is), it goes without saying, but my Muslim neighbor should. And then Christians should condemn what their fellow Christians are doing in e.g. CAR, a Jew will be forced to excuse himself for the actions of Israel, and so on, and so forth. To demand that from someone is to make him, based on religion, race or country, responsible. That’s how shape goats are created; it’s called discrimination.

And I sometimes wonder if it really is what those that demand excuses from certain people, really want. ‘Another Jewish sound’ (a Dutch group of Jews that oppose the politics of Israel), hardly gets any attention. SBY, still president of Indonesia, country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, condemns, like any sensible person, Isis with wordings, sharp and not to be misunderstood. A Dutch group of mosques does the same. I don’t read much about it. Also not about the fact that a big “friend” of the West, Saudi Arabia, would have difficulties expressing their disapproval, too close as they are. This month only 19 people were beheaded in that country, some of the for non-violent acts, one even for sorcery…

In fact the niece is to blame. Sweet girl, won’t say anything against her, but in order not to give stress to her parents, she kept quiet for six months. She still attended an (expensive) school in Denpasar and being pregnant seemed not a good plan, so; mouth shut. But it didn’t go away and the day came that she couldn’t hide it any longer. She had to marry, quick. W. was busy with it for days, here in Bali getting married is not something you do alone, the whole family is part of it. Especially the women have endless tasks; making snacks, offerings and much more. It means so many days no income but hey, family… The wedding of W’s daughter, also urgent had to be postponed; too busy with the niece. The daughters belly in the meantime showed that nature didn’t stand still, rounder every day. That’s how one urgency causes the next one. The groom – W. doesn’t know his name exactly – came with his family, the wedding date was set on the fourth of this month. It had to be that day because of the belly and because the priest determined the fourth as the right date. Next proper date could be in September or even October, before you know you’re stuck with an unmarried mother and who would want that? W. and her husband were busy again, income zero again. They expected about 350 guests and all of them had to sit, eat and drink. Organize chairs, prepare food, decorate the house and of course, lots and lots of offerings. As parents of the bride they had to arrange it all, and to pay it too I’m afraid. But, they kept it simple. The wedding dress was only 2,5 monthly salaries, that’s less than the one of the niece and she had two! All in all they spent half a years salary. Less than that was no option, what would the neighbors think? See, that’s what happens if you have daughters – and a niece of course.


Jokowi, second from left with white shirt during games at independence day.

The elections are done, the result is out; good guy won. But bad guy wouldn’t be bad guy if he didn’t dispute the results. During 15 years now he tries to become president and he failed, again. Fraud and cheating he cried. There is no doubt at all that Prabowo, that’s his name, is an expert in that field – expert by experience – but the real cheating came, again, from his camp. People that should know gave him hardly any chance with the high court, the difference was more than 8 million votes and that was a bit much to ignore. The high court spoke, the final result is out, Jokowi is the new president. In the meantime Prabowo tries to divide the country, his ego comes before the interests of the people of course. Riots are expected, something that Prabowo would totally understand.

I need some paint so I go to one of those stores for building materials. Thousands of colors, just choose one. That’s what I do and after that one some colors are measured out by one machine, the can goes in another one to shake it for a while. A minute later I see small drips of paint flying behind the little window. My warning is met with a superior smile that says ‘we have modern equipment but the gentleman doesn’t seem to understand’. When the can comes out it’s covered with paint. A girl cleans it and on the visible crack in the can she puts some sort of sticker. ‘There you go sir.’ After some talking it becomes known that ‘sir’ is not going to accept this. A ‘please sit down for a minute, we’ll talk to the manager’ and a ten minutes wait later the girl is back. ‘It’s solved, you get 10% discount!’ (US$ 0.70) It’s disappointing how some people are really hard to please. Another 15 minutes later I leave the shop with a new can. Under the seat of my bike and with every pothole I think ‘if please not this can as well…’ Yep, I’m a difficult person indeed.

Love, Frank