Friday, September 30, 2016

Chaos on Yeh Aya

Another comedic evening journey to Sanur along the ever hilarious Yeh Aya. One lane of the road is closed for resurfacing, but this means nothing. Everyone figures that the closed lane is closed only to the other guys. So it's every man, woman and child for him or herself. Utter chaos. Not to be left out of the fray, a truck driver decides that he will also use this road, come hell or high water. Hell cones first, as the truck instantly gets wedged against the high curb, such that we now have even less than half a road. I turn off as soon as possible, make it to JCO  Sanur, only to find that the coffee machine is broken. 🙄 Oh well, pulang dulu.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


I seem to have trouble with the Indonesian word for blue, biru. Bee-roo. But given that my wife smokes Marlboro Blue, I will be asked often enough to purchase a pack for her and thus employ the word.

So I go up to the neighborhood Circle K and tell the guy behind the counter that I want Marlboro Biru.

He reaches for a pack that is white.

No, biru.

He reaches for the menthols.

Bukan Pak, itu hijau. Aku mau yang biru.

He reaches for a pack of kreteks.

Biru, Pak! Marlboro Blue!

Oh, blooo!


Pakai bahasa inggris aja, ya.

Friday, September 23, 2016


I've been meaning for a while now to write about my sufferings with cervical radiculopathy, but I haven't been able to do so because ... well, because of my sufferings with cervical radiculopathy. It has been just too painful to raise my right arm in order to type. CR happens when your spine (in this case, the upper, or cervical, spine) shifts in a sudden, unexpected manner, pinching a nerve root between bones. This sends the muscles into panic mode such that they freeze up in order to immobilize and protect the skeleton. This in turn is very painful indeed. The pain spreads from the neck to the upper back and shoulder and down the arm to the elbow and wrist, turning then to numbness in the fingers. For at least a week, I slept no more than two hours a night. The pain was just too intense and constant, like a knife in the back. Honestly. I was about to shoot myself, though, luckily, I don't own a gun. This pain persisted at maximum level for about two weeks, and then, finally, began to diminish somewhat. At almost six weeks from the outset now, the pain has turned to a dull ache, a general stiffness of the neck, and occasional electrical shock sensations that shoot down the arm if one moves his neck too suddenly. My research of this on the internet shows that the condition can persist for weeks to months! Curiously, whilst suffering with this, I recalled that I've had it before some time in the past - perhaps in the mid 90's. I remembered the symptoms and sensations as they occurred in the present. I guess it was horrible enough back then that I kind of erased it from my mind 😅. One also wonders along the way how involved MS becomes with this problem. How much has MS interfered with the healing process? Which responses of the nerves have been normal and which are responses of MS? And, of course, will there be any sequelae of MS effects after the injury itself resolves?  One never knows until he knows, I guess. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Parking Problems

And now we bring you the motoring incident of the day. We drive out to Bali Mal Galeria, park the car and go in to shop and get some lunch. When we come out, we find that someone has parked their car directly behind ours, broadside to stern, and there they have left it, doors locked, parking brake securely set. We have a meeting to get to, so this is doubly uncool.

So we return to the mall, report the offending vehical, they announce the offense on their loudspeaker, make, color and license plate.

We go back to the car and wait perhaps 20 minutes. No one shows.

I go back into the mall to re-report the problem while the wife orders a Starbucks and keeps a sharp eye on the white car. She's waiting for this driver to show up. Oh yes she is. She has more than a few words in mind to share.

We wait perhaps another 20 minutes and at last a woman shows up. At first, the woman and her friend don't even get into the car. They are standing back, surveying the situation, wondering what the problem might be.

My wife then explained the problem to the driver in a rather fluent fashion, which was frankly beyond my level of knowledge in the language.

What surprised me is that the woman still was not seeming to comprehend the rudeness of her action. It was more like, 'Well I had to park somewhere, didn't I? And all the open spots were so far away.' 🙄

It's just another of those shake your head days. That's why my neck hurts, I think. So much shaking of the head.

Traffic Troubles

So, last night, my wife had a business meeting to attend down on Jl Sesetan. She arrives at her destination, signals a left turn, begins her turn into the parking lot, and here comes this dude on a motorbike trying to zip around the left side of her car as she turns. The guy hits the car, flips his bike, flies over the handlebars, jumps up off the street, retrieves his bike and races away. Criminal irresponsibility all in one fluid motion.

Finished with the meeting, she heads home along Sesetan, and what do you know here comes another dude on a motorbike with passenger at considerable speed. He shoots along the side of the car, starts to wobble wildly for whatever reason, dumps his bike and goes over the handlebars while the passenger ends up on the road, under the bike, not moving. No helmet.

Good Lord. What is up with the appalling carelessness shown by so many drivers here? One sees this sort of thing on a daily basis. Hits and near misses. And nothing ever changes, except to get a bit worse.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


The Indonesian driver is always in a great hurry. It is the first, and I suspect the only applied rule of driving here. You must do it quickly, and, whenever possible, unsafely. Apparently each driver finds himself in the grips of an emergecy, where great speed and recklessness are required. Perhaps he is rushing to a hospital for one last word with a dying mother. Perhaps he is dangerously late for work, or late to a high level government meeting. Perhaps his house is on fire. Or perhaps there has been a zombie outbreak. Or perhaps he's just very hungry and wants to get to the warung, caution be damned.

Whatever the case may be, his hurry causes him to do extrvaganly unwise things. Running his motorbike on the sidewalk, for instance, which may itself be crowded with frustrating obstacles such as fruit stands or bakso carts, or, indeed, pedestrians. Quitting the sidewalk, he veers into the oncoming lane, and does quite well until oncoming traffic, equally in a hurry, decides it wants to use that lane as well, and quite reasonably so.

Now, all the Indonesian drivers in a great hurry are going nowhere at all, for they have created a situation wherein forward progress in either direction is quite impossible. They scratch their heads, they honk their horns, they rev their engines, but all to no avail.

And so they stare in wonder. They light cigarettes. They chat with simmering neighbors until someone can come along and get this knot undone.

In any case, tomorrow is another day. What's the hurry?

The Girl on the Train

Like the London commuter train at the center of Paula Hawkins' novel, The Girl on the Train, this sophisticated 'who-done-it' story moves inexorably forward from page one, picking up speed in a smooth and steady manner as the scenery passes - seeming the same scenery every day, the reliable row of houses, the glimpses of their occupants, the seemingly deserted field, yet with that odd, mildly unsettling little clump of old clothing tucked among the clumps of grass. Everything both is and is not what it seems. It is, from afar, what we imagine it to be, yet something very different on close inspection.

The Girl on the Train is a story of addiction - addiction to alcohol, addiction to sex, addiction to a woman and addiction to a man, addiction to oneself, addiction to the past, and addiction to fantasies of the good mate, the good marriage, to tales of life as it should be.

Hawkins tells her story through the alternating viewpoints of a handful of characters, each one flawed, each one real, each one bringing her own strengths and her own weaknesses into the revelation of the mystery at hand.

And, given the surprise ending, I will say no more - except that I found myself addicted to these pages 😅