Monday, October 19, 2009

More thoughts on the Lost Weekend

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More thoughts on The Lost Weekend:

The Indonesians seem to be a peaceful, calm people. Ati is a marvel at maintaining her equanimity with the boys, always smiling and enjoying them. The airline and hotel staffers all smiled, too, and offered a hands-together bow as a gesture of peace and humility. We found the same thing at the Marriott in Bangkok and all over Bali during our visits. We thought it might be specific to one religion, but the Balinese are Hindus; the area around Yogyakarta is probably heavily Buddhist; and Indo as a whole is the world’s largest Muslim country. So here we have this generally peaceful nation, where road rage is almost unheard of and drivers actually yield to allow others to enter intersections. And what did Garuda Airlines give the boys as gifts? Not pilot’s wings [how 1950’s], but small scale models of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles!

Not only are the people beautiful – in both appearance and spirit – but the land itself is spectacular when seen from 30,000 feet. Two years ago we flew the entire length of Java to get to Bali but didn’t really notice, perhaps because of our seats at the bulkhead. On the flight to Yogya, we were over the wing and had obstructed views. [If this were a cruise ship, we would have seen the lifeboats] On the trip home yesterday, though, we were in front of the wings, opposite the engine, so we could see pretty well. When you fly over the countryside, you expect to see a quilt of fields as you soar over the farms and villages. But Indo’s fields were mostly in shades of brown as we head toward the end of the dry season; in a month or so, the fields will as green as anywhere on Earth. The most remarkable feature, though, is the presence of volcanoes everywhere we looked.

Fortunately, the ones we saw were dormant, but their dotting the countryside is unlike other places where an observer can see the land rise a little, then yield to foothills and later to “real” mountains. The volcanoes of Indonesia do not form a traditional range like the Alps, Rockies or Adirondacks. They just sort of pop up. Indonesia has more volcanoes than any other country and forms a large part of the Ring of Fire. Most of Indonesia’s islands, perhaps all of them, were formed by volcanic action. We know this intellectually, but seeing the cones spread out across the horizon brought the message home.

Medical Update: The doctor called and D has a fungal infection [that sounds so much better than saying fungus]. He’ll start medication today and if his ‘symptoms’ improve, we will go to the beach with Jon on Friday. If he still feels like dirt, we’ll stay in Jakarta and read while they are running around on the beach. Mariati will take good care of us; she and Ati are the chicken soup of the house. In the meantime, we are bracing ourselves for Portobello jokes when Jon gets home.

Jon left at 6:15 this morning, carrying D’s hazardous waste as inconspicuously as he could; all he needed was a hazmat suit. Carter watched TV after Caiden trudged off to school; Briton went to the gym to work out; and we read. When the doctor finally called, Ati thought she wanted Briton and said she was at the gym; Dr. Isabela assumed she was referring to me and called Briton’s cell; she called the house a second time and was put through. We all laughed about it later. After Briton’s return from the gym, D had Kusnadi take him to Global Doctor where he picked up pro-biotic medication. If this does not cure the problem, then we will move on to something stronger and more expensive.

We abandoned Caiden to Ati for his lunch and nap and sallied forth into a new [for us] section of Jakarta. For the first time, we turned right, not left, at the compound entrance and were at a shopping center within minutes, a nice change from the usual lengthy, congested drives. We ate lunch at a Vietnamese sandwich shop, sort of a Subway meets lemon grass. Briton and MA got chicken/lemon grass baguettes. D ordered the chicken/mushroom soup served in a bread bowl; and Carter was guided to the smoked turkey baguette. Carter baled a little when his arrived but decided that de-constructing it made it acceptable. The adults did everything but lick the table and Carter did a creditable job.

The next stop for Briton was the neighboring grocery store. She had to stock the house, which was running on “E” at lunch time, and buy supplies for the trip to the beach. She was amazed at how much she had spent, thinking she may have set a personal record. Since she doesn’t usually do the shopping, she had to guess on some of the staples Mariati usually buys like plastic bags. Putting the groceries away was another adventure in creativity since Mariati and Ati have no known system for placing jars and cans on the shelves. While Briton did the shopping, we waited at the Starbuck’s upstairs [next to the Ace Hardware store]. Carter won the hide-and-Seek prize for the day.

We read and then played with the boys after Caiden’s nap; then they decided they preferred Ati’s company and went outside to play with sidewalk chalk. Altogether, it was a very good day.

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