Dear All

It is the year 1937 and pitch-dark, I’m sitting on my terrace, no lights allowed tonight. All is dead quiet, apart from those horrible dogs at the neighbours. It is Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. I just arrived back home from the Netherlands last night and the trip from the airport took hours. Ogoh-ogoh everywhere, grotesque statues that every banjar (neighbourhood) makes and carries around in procession. Main and back-roads alike, every road was blocked. In case of a ceremony there is no consideration towards traffic, tourism or anything at all. And today is a day of silence. Machines are not allowed, I didn’t dare to swim because of the noise. Not a real problem: ‘he’s a bit tired’.

My visit to the Netherlands was short, just bringing and picking up some glass. The closest dealer is in Australia but the prices there are so that a ticket to Holland worked out cheaper. On top of that I could bring a part of the exhibition. And a cosy 32 hours in the plane… There was a time when bus-companies advertised with ‘real airplane seats’, I assume they don’t do that anymore. Nevertheless, home safe, a reason to be thankful.

I was in Holland during elections but of course that didn’t help. I cannot understand how it works. The party with no vision and a bunch of swindlers in their camp remained the biggest. The first results one can read in their ‘new plan’ to not allow any asylum seeker in Europe; rough egoism, dressed up with plastic compassion, no clue about international agreements. Maybe they try to open a door for the next election so that they can form a coalition with that other Dutch idiot Wilders? Every country gets the government it deserves. I just wonder, what on earth have they done while I was away to deserve this sort of punishment.

That, two days after my arrival in Holland a number of Facebook friends liked a KLM trip to Bali did hurt a bit. Not very subtle boys, not subtle at all.

At home all was fine, only the water-pump broke down. Tired, overtired is what Pak Par thinks. It’s quite possible. Due to a stupid plan I share the pump with the neighbours who have three houses connected. I think they spend their days with showers and baths, water goes through like in a medium sized river. Pump tired and now dead. I can see the discussion coming about who’s going to pay what and how much. And a few fish were dead. More than 70 fish and still I look with sad feelings at the few that lay dead between the lotus. Life, how much do we really understand about life? I read about universes that possibly exist next to ours, countless maybe, and conclude it isn’t much. My understanding I mean. With a smile I think of J. who suggested that, maybe, it’s all an experiment of a student in another dimension. Much further than amazement about the cause behind the cause I don’t get. No need, amazement is a very good instrument to live your life in happiness.

Tomorrow back to work again. A lot of grinding and polishing, not my favourite job but the results are nice. And a trip to the sandblaster, it’s possible again, I have my new drivers-license. I need one every year because they don’t even want to think about me having a valid license while my residence permit is expired. That my permit expires 6 months before the drivers-license is no problem. Read: a new drivers-license every year brings more money. First to the doctor for a declaration of health. The lady fills in a form, she doesn’t look at me at all, I pay 3 dollars and I’m healthy again. Good deal.

The police in the meantime have thought of something new, they need a copy of my passport. My permit is not enough anymore. Return to my house, stop at the copy-shop and back to the police. ‘Ah, but your license expired yesterday!’ ‘ Yeah, that’s why I’m here, to prolong.’ ‘Well, it’s not valid anymore now, is it? We cannot prolong this one, you have to apply all over again.’ I got a confusing test on a computer. ‘Is it okay to drive a motor with a ladder on your shoulder of, say, 10 meters long?’ ‘Is it allowed to drive over pedestrians on a zebra-crossing?’ ‘Is a slalom through a closed railway crossing okay?’

Amazing, all those things one has to know! But maybe it’s not a real luxury in Bali. (Except for the railway thing, we have no trains here.) In all the confusion I failed the test anyway, 5 wrong out of 30 was one too many. Loud protests from my side. It’s not fair. I had a license. I’m driving for over 40 years now (oops, it is wise to mention that I’m that old already?). Indonesian is not my mother tongue. Etc. etc.

The manager! The manager!!!

Calm down now, the manager can arrange things. ‘How much did you pay last year?’ First I pretended not to know anymore but finally I admitted: Rp 300.000,– (US$ 25.–) Oh, well, fort hat money we can do it again sir, no worries see? He loved to help people. Five minutes later I was on the street again with my new drivers-license. The price 5 dollars more than the official price. See you next year. ‘Don’t get angry, just be amazed’ says D.

Love Frank.


Our hands

Dear All,

A picture in the newspapers didn’t make sleep come easy. The two convicted Australians are transported to Java in a sickening theatre with a role for lots of police and military. There, in Java, they will be executed together with eight others. One of these days I’ll get up in the morning and read on the net that it’s over. I know, every minute people die somewhere in this world but still, the deliberate killing of ten people is a rock in my pillow at night.









Also a last plea in court had no effect.

The mules – certainly, stupid idiots that entered a ridiculous adventure, hoping for some money – have to be killed. The principals, this was about drugs that were to be exported from Indonesia to Australia, are not bothered. A war on drugs, like a war on terrorism or a war on murder in general; it’s not going to work. Take action where needed and possible, of course. But our only real hope is to work towards a sentiment and an attitude that recognizes the other as a human being. Also the intended shooting of a girl from the Philippines is, when we are able to see the saddening limitations of her world, a crime. It brings me to a well meant ‘god do something’, only to realize that there are no other hands available than yours and mine. Keep on looking to all those wonderful people and initiatives that are there as well can keep us going and, hopefully, inspired. The world needs us.

Indonesia does all it can to safe their citizens abroad when convicted to death. Millions of dollars went to Saudi Arabia as indemnification – another detestable thing, as if you could minimize the results of murder with money – to bring home two citizens that would’ve been beheaded. Indonesia itself is deaf for each and every plea. Munafik (from Arabic language) is the word in Indonesian: hypocrite. ‘The fat lady’, Megawati Sukarnoputri, a former president, opposes changing the verdict and the present president seems, after a hopeful beginning, to weak to oppose her, the head of his party. This week he managed to lecture kids of around 16 on drugs and its 50 victims a day (?) in this country only. And consequently he asked for their agreement with capital punishment for drugs related crime. I a country where opposing a superior is not done, he looks for support from children for an unsupportable decision. How low can you go?

All in all the presidency of Jokowi is disappointing so far. He is, I think, still a less horrific option than Prabowo, the proven murderer who just didn’t make it, nevertheless, it’s disappointing. Very.

The not so pleasant waitress was gone and I just started to frequent LalaLili again. The owner, pleased I was back, was over the top friendly and – what else can one say – praised Zoef the dog right into dogs-heaven. Oh what a sweet dog Pak Frank has, and so clean, and such a beautiful fur, and so healthy and polite… We, Zoef and I, were not impressed. And I’m sure Zoef was thinking about Ibu Putu where indeed, he gets less compliments but always a nice and juicy bone. Zoef knows his priorities and so does the owner of LalaLili, or so I thought. Since a week or so she has something new. Hours and hours in a row she plays a tape with a monotonous mantra, with ‘Om Swastiastu”. Thousand times and more, same words, same guy, same tone. My question if the guests liked it, the waitress couldn’t answer. My “I do”, with implication, was not received well. No LalaLili for a while I think.

Ah, criticizing Indonesia – was sich liebt das neckt sich is what the Germans say. How great would it be if I could utter all this, knowing that in The Netherlands all is fine and well. That’s not reality though. We already had a MP without a vision; as far as it wasn’t clear yet, morals are missing too. His statement that he’d rather see Jihadi’s die in Syria than coming back to The Netherlands is not only shocking, it also underlines the bankruptcy of everything the Dutch (government) used to be. I have no idea if he is going to apologize, it doesn’t matter really. This is in his head and with such an attitude one doesn’t belong in a position like his. Where would he belong? I can‘t think of another place really. Dohmen, a Dutch philosopher, thinks that love for your fellow men is too much asked, he sees more in sympathy. I strongly disagree with him but even then, our MP can’t muster that either. The country is in a sad state. There is a lot of work to do.

I take it we’re all doing our best. The WRR (scientific advice board for the government) concludes that the value of art should be prioritized and not the question what it brings in terms of economy. Travelling up and down every day will be a problem but otherwise there would be a job for me. That conclusion I’ve drawn long time ago and without expensive research and such. The dreams that art can offer us will turn out to be (at least partly) the material of which a new tomorrow is build. Imagination, beyond what we knew and what was accepted, beyond convention and personal hang-ups and how ‘the rules are’. Your and my hands can work with that.

Love, Frank