|Me and my brother in the Puncak, outside Jakarta, c.1978|
Monday, 23 May 2016
One of my earliest memories is playing happily in a friend's garden before being unceremoniously yanked inside by our panic-stricken mothers. Turned out there was a python lurking in the storm drain. Not long after the snake-scare, we were motoring through town when our driver yelled at us to duck down out-of-sight. Our error was to pass a roundabout where police were pursuing a runaway man with live bullets. I can remember seeing the man fall to the ground as my mum pushed me down into the footwell. Strangely I accepted these occasional elements of danger without question. That was how life was in Indonesia in the late 1970s.
It was a lot of fun too - lazy afternoons at the swimming pool, horse-riding in the tea plantations outside Jakarta, holidays in Bali and trips to the beach with the volcano Krakatoa looming in the background. My parents were posted to Jakarta in their early thirties and were given a company bungalow complete with domestic staff. Looking back at family photos, it is clear that hedonism was the order of the day. My parents and their friends were young and groovy - the albums are full of raucous parties, boat trips and batik shirts.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
|Gao Gajah: water for purifying yourself before entering the temple|
Last week I returned to Bali for the first time in over thirty years. What I found was far more complex and baffling than the childish idyll I had carried around for so long. Bali is an island of contrasts: bikinis versus traditional batik, tourist tat versus Hindu shrines, Seminyak's breeze blocks versus paddy fields and temples deep in the jungle. It seems I can only get a handle on the place by seeing it through a series of juxtapositions.
|Ubud market: a warren of a place, built like a multistorey carpark|