The lizard-like creatures that live in every house here are called tokeh’s. What’s in a name? Well, it’s more like ‘the name gives it away’. For the last few years they used to drop their u know what just in front of my desk. Splash from 20 feet high. Now they changed the location of their toilet, it’s just above my desk. Laptop, books, nothing is sacred to them. I guess I should’ve expected it, in Dutch Tokkie is slang for a very antisocial person.
The bats do the same from the top of the roof but that’s outside and.., bats bring luck is what they say. So, filthy too but different. The pump of the pool got stuck, it happens. A bit of dirt in the valve and the water runs back in the reservoir that, at one point, overflows. Easy to solve, start the pump again, dirt goes away and ready. Not if right at that moment the electricity goes off. Garden under water, pool half empty. (Or should I, to be positive, speak of the pool being half full?) And a rat stole my adhesive tape in the studio. Found it back later under the kiln, still adhesive, no tape anymore. I think that’s about it as far as my problems go, can’t think of more.
It’s called lucky. It also leaves plenty of room to think, a luxury; often a pleasure, sometimes a burden. Most people here have their hands (and heads) full with their daily chores. Although less extreme than in Africa here also the main question is how to get food on the table. That, and the instalments for the motorbike, electricity and, of course, how am I going to pay for all those offerings and ceremonies. Schooling of the kids is then, maybe no surprise, not the first priority for many and that way things stay the way they are. Thinking about life is and how it should be; not so many thoughts in that field. The, sometimes radical, developments in Indonesian society hardly get any attention. In a long conversation with an expert on education from Singapore we concluded that the ‘why’ question is banned from Indonesian schools. ‘Learn children how to think, not what to think’ I read somewhere. Apparently that leads to an uncertainty that is so threatening that the establishment here doesn’t want to go there. When my friend, during a school visit, suggested that the teacher would let the kids name the fruit she had in her hand in stead of telling them it was an apple, to let the kids tell which colour it was and maybe even, later, cut the apple and explore the inside, the teacher thought that all too confusing. And no, they were not allowed to cut fruit.
A thinking (middle) class is the nightmare of every dictator, of every society that suppresses. It’s not the first time that I think that the dis-functional school-system here is what some people actually want it to be. The why? As always power and money are involved but I’ll never understand. In fact, there is a lot I don’t understand. A (Dutch) politician is caught in small-scale, unjustified claims towards the government for reimbursement. The same guy, tough on each and every citizen that gets one euro too much, calls this something small and unimportant.
It’s postponed but it doesn’t look like it will be cancelled, another nine people will be led in front of a firing squad. Among the victims – is there another word for it? – two Australians. There are many reason to oppose capital punishment, one is plenty for me; you do not bring yourself down to the same level of the perpetrator. Possible perpetrator in fact, because history shows us that in every system mistakes are made. Like the Netherlands did a few weeks ago, the Australian government does its utmost to not let this happen, not to its own citizens that is. We, Australia, did help you ten years ago when the tsunami struck with a billion dollar; you owe this to us. And there is also the threat of a boycott of Bali as a tourist destination.
Something small in the ocean of disasters that overflow the world, nevertheless with human lives at stake. A bitter illustration of a difference in mentality, also of selective indignation and a western attitude of superiority that finds its counterpart in a feeling in this country to be seen as ‘less’. Capital punishment has to stop but these steps bring heels in the sand.
In the meantime I work for my exhibition at Glass Gallery Leerdam in the Netherlands that opens on May 17. Below two object, both inspired by, based on a poem. (Sorry, quite impossible to translate.)