Nov 17, 2013

Month four in Indonesia

... and I have been running around too much to post here.  But check out Robert's eloquent entries about his first impressions (  Will post here soon!

Sep 15, 2013

Self, Sidewalks, and Social Change (with apologies for my addiction to alliteration)

            Just back from walking to All Fresh, a smallish upscale grocery store close to the house.  As I was walking there I passed Teman Kencana, the garden after which the neighborhood is named.  I saw a lot of dogs and heard a lot of yapping.  It seemed to be both a gathering of people who have dogs and an equivalent to a puppy mill.  A little beyond the puppy mill were several people walking civet cats on leases.  So not just a puppy mill but also a mill to buy civets, probably not just as pets but to (force?) feed them to eat coffee beans for the expensive luwak coffee.  Total conjecture on my part.  Also in the park were a bunch of guys with snakes. Yesterday in Yogkakarta, I saw a sidewalk full of birdcages with little birds flapping wilding in them.  These birds were not used to being in confined spaces yet.  A street over were vendors with baby chicks dyed in the most lurid flourescent colors. The hidden liberal in me surges up as I struggle to deal with animals in capitivity. 
            Finally got to the store which is not to far as the crow flies.  But getting through the streets clogged with cars, motorbikes, hawkers and gawkers takes time.  Only the poor walk it seems, and they don’t need footpaths (the term for sidewalks that I grew up with, and I imagine is still used in India).  Of course, if there are sidewalks or footpaths there (and in Colombia, and here) are multifunctional.   Walking on them is only possibility.  They are a great venue for warungs, penjuals or their equivalent. I’m okay with the multifunctionality of sidewalks (something that used to drive Robert crazy in Cali). But not having them makes it hard to get around, and adds another dimension to the dilemma of wanting to be car free here.  It’s a pain to have a car –it will add to the macet (traffic jams) and global warming, besides my having to deal with one more thing (the car) and one person (the driver)!  It’s also a pain to have to get around a city where on has to rely largely on public angkots.   I’ll see how far I get with this.   
            Both the examples above reveal (to me), my ineffectual struggle to come to terms with my role in bringing about the change I want. “Being the change you want to see,” is a nice slogan, but it doesn’t get me very far – literally.  But being getting very far, very fast isn’t the point.  Maybe it is our hurry to do that has brought us to the impasse of macets.  And if this were not turning into a personal blog, I’d go on to ask who is “we” and what do I mean by all the points I am making here!  But that’s for my academic writing.