Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Simple Incident

I went out the other night for a walk down the street and around the neighborhood. It was dark outside. Most of the neighborhood streets here have no street lights, so the only illumination comes from the porch lights that are on, or from headlights, or from the light of the moon, depending upon its mood and the mood of the weather.

By the time I had gone two blocks or so, I had begun to weave a bit, as I tend to do because of a balance and muscle strength weakened by MS. I noticed the headlights of a car coming up from behind, so I moved to the side of the road and continued to walk/weave my way forward. The car passed, slowed, then stopped in the middle of the road a few yards ahead of me.

Being an American, and still used to the patterns of everyday life in America, my immediate thought was "What the hell does this guy want?" In America, you weigh the situation with suspicion. Is he gong to rob me? Does he have a weapon. Is he going to proposition me, for sex or drugs or what have you?

So my radar is up, and I walk by without looking at the car or in the window.

And, sure enough, the man pokes his head out.

Do you know what he said?

He said, "Sir, do you need a ride somewhere?  Is there anything I can help you with?"

Well, how about that. It's only a fellow human being, after all; and a rather kindly one at that. A young man, maybe 25 or 30. And he was likely concerned at the labored appearance of my gait.

"No," I said, looking in the window. "Jalan-jalan aja, ya? Terima Kasih." Thank you.

"Kembali," he answered. You're welcome.

Even after four years here, I am continually amazed by the simple kindness of these people. And I am reminded, again, as always, of simpler, kinder times in America.

How can we get back to that again, I wonder.

But, well ... I already have.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Long Story Cut Short

Well, put the brakes on the cataracts again. Should have known it sounded too good to be true. The recommended hospital is an absolute madhouse, and they wanted me to take a number and stand in line for a couple of hours, even though I already have the diagnosis and recommended treatment plan from Kasih Ibu Hospital. And apparently the doctor who does cataracts is only on-call, so who knows when he'll be around. Long and short = back to square one. And here I am with a splitting headache, once again, from trying to read from the computer screen. Shit! I wonder if I could get a mirror, a toothpick, and do it myself.

Monday, January 27, 2014

More Cataracts

It looks as though I may finally be on the road to cataract surgery - which is a good thing, as I can't see worth a damn anymore. And reading gives me a massive headache. And I love to read. Btu, anyway, I will go for an initial appointment tomorrow, and then, hopefully, be scheduled for surgery. Gosh, it would be nice to see again. I just hope there isn't any indication against this with MS. I don't think there is, and I have found any through internet research. It's not like I can ask a doctor here, because they've never even heard of MS anyway. I guess this is done one eye at a time, so it may be a long process. Not that I have so many eyes, but because I suppose there is a waiting period from one eye to the other. So best to get started, I reckon.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Short Happy Life

Raining again today. A  lot of rain here, lately. Once again, only got out of the house briefly. Went to a book store in Sanur that I had all but forgotten about, picked out a book in Indonesian by Ernest Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, then got stuck in a coffee place while I waited for the rain to stop. Which it didn't.

Interesting to read Hemingway in Indonesian. Here's a writer who was very picky about choosing just the right words, and so one wonders how well the overall intent of these short stories is coming across. Read the first one, anyway (The Short Happy Life), which I remembered piece by piece as I read it. I suppose this is a bit of a cheat, in a way - to try to study reading in Indonesian when you already know the gist of what is going to be said. But, then again, it's helpful in another way, as it makes the reading go more smoothly when you are anticipating the narrative through memory.

In any case, it's nice to be reading again. I've missed it. There is not a great choice of books in English here, and, in any case, they are sold pretty much only at PeriPlus and are quite expensive. On the other hand, books in Indonesian are cheap in comparison and you have a much wider selection.

Headed for Ubud tomorrow, as I understand it from the wife, where we will have lunch and "nongkrong" (hang out) with friends. I'm down for it. Something different to do on a Saturday -- which will probably be a rainy one at that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Surga di Warung Kopi (JCO)

Well, it's just a number, right? 60, I mean. I myself might have thought that it would somehow be more significant, but looking straight at it, as I now am on this birthday, it seems a bit of a letdown. Nothing happened. Literally. I've been stuck in the house most of the day. My own birthday called off due to rain. Well, almost. Not to be defeated,  however, by a trifling thing such as the weather (with a capital W in this case, since there was a virtual war of thunder the lightning in the heavens), I donned my rain coat, climbed on my bike and fought my way through the floods to Sanur. All for a cup of coffee. Some things never change. I remember battling my way to Starbucks, back in Oregon, under similar and worse conditions (blizzards, for instance). I arrived at JCO coffee just as the rain stopped, covered my bike with the coat (just in case) and sloshed in to order my cappuccino and free donut. Ah, the small things in life. I'm sure to remember this over the years to come (as the best way to remember events over a long period of time is to do the same things habitually). Even if you don't remember, you know nonetheless. My friend, Mike, didn't make it. I wonder why. As it happens, I was just finishing the last chapter of a book I've been reading. Surga di Warung Kopi (Heaven in the coffee cafĂ©). Appropriate, no? I enjoyed the book, and even wrote to the author upon finishing. Coffee always gives me a good feeling. So does heaven.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Evening Walk

I've taken, lately, to walking in the evening, ostensibly to meet my wife on her way home from work - which sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. It's just a reason to walk, and I find that I enjoy it.

I start out when it's just getting dark. The day has cooled somewhat and usually a breeze has come up, sneaking across the rice fields, lapping at the house fronts, lazy and contented as a domestic cat. Workers in the new houses that are going up have quit for the day and sit quietly talking and laughing together. They will stay the night in the shells of the houses under construction. One of them calls out as I pass. "Hello, Mister. Hello. Very good, very good." I ask 'what' is very good, but he does not know. He has exhausted his knowledge of English and seems quite happy.

Another man passes by on the road. He raises his hand, his face bursting open in a toothy smile. "Jalan-jalan," he said. Walking. Yes, we are.

Various dogs patrol in front of their various houses; thick, furry dogs, scrawny dogs, dogs the color of cinnamon or coal or rice or wheat, or all mixed together like unstirred flour and spices. Some are in better moods than others. Some want to walk up and meet you. Others appear somewhat liable to bite you.

In the field, people are harvesting the rice, men, women and children. There's a woman wearing clothes like a scarecrow's, a conical hat on her head, and as she cuts the tops from the long stalks of rice, storms of birds swoop and tremble in circles around her without attracting the least portion of the woman's attention. And, yet, they've gotten mine.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Can't seem to get off my ass, lately. Tired. Maybe it's the weather. Mostly cloudy, often raining, but still quite hot. Kind of sucks the life out, sometimes. Well, I'll try to get out tonight, meet a friend in Sanur.

Otherwise, there's not much to report, which is probably why I haven't written anything here in a while. Don't know why I bothered just now.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Into 2014

Ended up the old year with the flu, which turned to bronchitis. Just like last year. Thanks to MS, of course. Immune system so busy attacking healthy structures that it doesn't have time to deal efficiently with viruses. But on the mend now, I think -- after three weeks.

As usual, I avoided going to the doctor as long as possible, because it's a real pain in the ass here. First off, you  have to try to explain symptoms to people who speak no English - and so, of course, one struggles with terms he is not familiar with in Indonesian. Then they send you to the wrong doctor anyway, and you sit on a row of seats jam packed with other sick people, shoulder-to-shoulder, while you wait for your "10 o'clock" appointment, which finally rolls around at about 11:30. 

If you're lucky, you get an English speaking doctor. Second best is one who does not speak English, but at least admits to it. In the worst case scenario,  you get a doctor who doesn't speak English, but says he does. That's what I got this time around.

Fortunately, I already knew what the problem was, and what medicine I needed for it.

So, like I say, on the mend, but not quite there. Eighty percent.

Will need my energy for what is looking to be a busy winter and spring. Will travel to the north coast soon for a Bali Style article. In January and February, I'll need to begin the long process of applying for my yearly Kitas (permission to live in Indonesia), will need to renew the registration for my motorbike, renew my driver's license (another ridiculously expensive and time consuming procedure), and then will have to travel to Singapore in March to quality for Kitas sponsorship by my wife. Whew. I'm told that we are going to Makassar also, but I don't know why.

After all that, I should be able to take a deep breath. If my lungs are okay by then.