The sacred and the profane

It’s a bit difficult to be a cynical blighter when you’ve spent some time away in the wonderful hilly countryside south of Bandung. Everything was so green and the air so clean that it was almost intoxicating – in a nice way of course. But with my body once again soaking up the carbon dioxide, heavy metals and God knows what other pollutants in Jakarta I’ll give it a try:

So the kid has been messing around a bit in the hotel room - probably a bit hyper on the fresh air that I’ve been talking about. The misses tells said kid to calm down. But the kid doesn’t calm down of course, and then proceeds to knock arm against a shelf. Bursts into tears.

Then the wife’s mild reprimand: Well don’t say I didn’t warn you! You’ve been punished by God for not listening to me! (accompanied by a self-satisfied Javanese grin)


Now these words don’t have much of an impact on the kid, but they send me into a head spin as I try to come to terms with the sheer absurdity and incredulity of what has just been said.

Someone might just as well have told me that fish live on land.

Cos it doesn’t get much more nonsensical than this.

Poor old God having to play the jury in the most trifling of matters. Well He must be pretty busy is all that I can say. Cos there are billions of people out there getting into situations like this all the time. And it ain’t only decisions about whether little kids should be punished of course.

Cos there’s the serious stuff as well. Like whether people should stay on motorcycles – or fall off – and even whether whole regions like Aceh should be devastated by natural disasters like huge tidal waves called tsunami.

So to console myself I seek out the hotel restaurant in search of some much needed liquid refreshment. The slender Sundanese waitress wanders off and brings me my Bintang. I use the bottle opener to remove the cap.

But guess what? It’s flat! But there’s no way I’m gonna tell the wife that– cos I know what she would say!

Ranca Bali tea plantations

Not Jakarta


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