Street bingo in Manila

While wandering around Manila back in October, I ran across this bingo game in a little side street of a scruffy neighborhood. It was sponsored by a local politician. They were still in the early stages with relatively small prizes — 5 or 10 dollars, I think. But there were going to be some big things later, like a TV.

People were playing several cards at a time and really getting into the game, shouting and clapping. If Manila really is like Jakarta, this is probably one of the few things they’ll ever get out of that politician.

Advertisements

The hamsterballs of Mekarsari

I had never before seen a giant floating hamsterball for humans. But as soon as I saw one, I knew I’d been looking for it my whole life.


As my lovely assistant (and housemate) Melanie demonstrates, you get into the hamsterball and have it blown up around you with the help of a big air hose. Then you get closed in with a surprisingly robust zipper-and-velcro affair.


You can’t stand up for very long on the water, but it’s fun to run like a hamster on a wheel until it gets unbearably hot and suffocating, which takes about two minutes. Unfortunately the ball is tethered to the shore so you can’t hamster your way to the middle of the lake and then pass out in a dramatic heap and require rescuing.

The hamsterballs are at Mekarsari, a big recreational park outside Jakarta. Mekarsari seems to specialize in strange floaty things, including these big colorful rolls.

There were also bicycle boats. My lovely assistant (and housemate) Drew stood gazing at them longingly until someone came along and let us rent them. They were good exercise and the access to oxygen meant we could ride them around a lot longer.


After that, everybody needed some coconut water. It was served the traditional way, right in the coconuts, with a spoon so you can scrape curls of flesh off the inside walls.

Cinderella and the Flying Horse

Here’s a classic bit of mystical soap opera (sinetron mistis) — the same genre as the amazing Snakelady Sinetron I posted a long while back.

This one is about your typical evil-stepmother situation. The pretty girl is forced to wait hand and foot on her stepmom and obnoxious stepsisters. As the scene opens, she’s just been ordered to sell her necklace, one of her few connections to her lost family, in order to buy them food. But she has a magical helper: the White Fairy, who appears in the form of a dove, a small lizard, or in this case, a flying horse.

Ronaldo: The rest of the story

Our rehab cat with the broken leg acquired the name Ronaldo. (I was planning to have him neutered, so I figured he should have an extra-manly name to boost his self-image, and who is more manly than Cristiano Ronaldo?)


Ron, as he came to be called, faced a tough recovery. His leg needed surgery and the time lapse between the injury and the operation made the repair more difficult. He went crazy whenever I tried to change his bandage, so I had to take him on the long, hated car ride to the vet’s place in Pondok Labu every 2 or 3 days. Finally I wised up and arranged to board him there for a while, which I think was easier on both of us.

Still, Ron is an intensely cheerful type, and he never lost his sunny personality. Even when he was groggy from anesthesia and obviously in pain, he would limp over and rub up against anyone who came to visit him.

Finally his incision healed and he came home.

It didn’t take Ron long to get comfortable. Soon he was mooching around the kitchen trying to steal food, and snoozing just as flamboyantly as Susu. (I promise we didn’t give him beer, though.)


I can’t say Ron and Susu became fast friends, but from a growling and hissing start they came to a point of mutual tolerance. I think they would have been pals if we’d kept him. Their fights, which were never very convincing in the first place, were clearly turning into games by the end. And they trusted each other enough to doze in the same room.


But it’s pretty silly for us to have one cat, nevermind two, so I put the word out on Facebook and e-mail. I was thrilled when my good friend Pinta said she wanted him.


Pinta took him to her mom’s place on the southern end of town. Ron has a real house now on a quiet street. He eats a lot, sleeps on Pinta’s old bed and generally seems to live like a king.

I think Susu missed him for a while. She used to sleep in his old cage. Besides the Ron factor, I think she liked having all those walls to lean up against.

Now we’ve moved, and the cage has gone into storage. It’s already hard to remember what being a two-cat household was like.

Carma strikes again … and again

Only in Indonesia would the hero and heroine of a sappy love song get run over by cars — not once but THREE times.

Some enterprising scholar could definitely earn his or her Visual Anthropology PhD by writing about the Indonesian pop culture obsession with vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents. They are such a staple of soap operas and teen movies, Chad and I will sometimes play the ‘who’s going to get hit by a car’ game when we’re flipping around the TV channels. It’s not too difficult, because there are generally two kinds of people it happens to: the very good, and the very bad.

If you’re bad, you drink alcohol, slobber and stagger around as if you have a serious neurological condition, beat people up, steal, gamble and curse like a sailor. When you are finally struck down, everyone understands it’s the Hand of God.

If you’re good, you’re a cute teenager — usually a girl, but it can happen to boys too. You could be troubled or impoverished or a bit of an outsider; you could be the idol of all your friends. When you get run over, everyone knows it’s Fate, but they’re left to puzzle out What It All Means. Possibly your donated organs save someone else’s life; possibly you come back to haunt your friends and remind them to Make Every Moment Count.

Why cars? I’m not sure, except that of course Indonesian traffic is crazy and there are no concessions to pedestrian safety, so we all find ourselves wading out into busy roads on a daily basis. I don’t find Indonesians particularly reckless behind the wheel; in fact, they’re more attentive than American drivers. But there’s a certain leap of faith involved in crossing the street. You’re flowing around the traffic, and trusting the traffic to flow around you, and at that moment you’re painfully aware of how large and dangerous cars are.

The lyrics of the song are so simplistic they’re hardly worth translating, but here they are:

Betapa hati rindu pada dirimu, duhai kekasihku
Segeralah kembali pada diriku, duhai kekasihku

Aku juga rindu lincah manja sikapmu
Aku sudah rindu kasih sayang darimu

Semoga kita dapat bertemu lagi seperti dahulu
Supaya kita dapat bercinta lagi seperti dahulu

Gelisah, hati gelisah, sejak kepergianmu
Tak sabar, hati tak sabar, menanti kedatanganmu

Tenangkanlah hatimu, jangan gelisah
Aku tahu kau menanti
Sabarkanlah hatimu, sabarlah sayang
Aku segera kembali

How my heart longs for you, my darling
Come back to me now, my darling

I miss your naughty attitude
I miss your sweet love

I hope we’ll meet again like before
So we can love again like before

Anxious, my heart is anxious since you left
Impatient, my heart is impatient, awaiting your return

Calm your heart, don’t be nervous
I know you’re waiting
Make your heart patient, be patient my darling
I’m coming back now

The note on the pad of paper is kind of interesting: “Opportunity doesn’t come just once.” This is a clear contradiction of the American “opportunity doesn’t knock twice.” But it still leads back to the same conclusion: Make Every Moment Count.

Nothing says it better than a speeding automobile!

New look!

I’m mentioning the blog on some grad school applications these days, and when I opened it up I noticed:

1. There weren’t very many entries lately and

2. The old design was looking a tad dumpy.

So I upgraded to the New Blogger where I was promptly underwhelmed by the template offerings. But after finding a layout I can live with and spending a ridiculous amount of time wavering between CC8844 and CC9955 for the Page Header Corners Color, I’m relatively satisfied. (Of course, I’ll probably change it to CC9933 tomorrow).

I’d like to get back into posting again, partly to save myself from the madness in my head. The first year of a new job always gives me a bad case of tunnel vision. Now that it’s been a year and a half, it’s time to start thinking about something else for a change. And time to reconnect with some old interests, such as amateur toiletology.

I went back to the US last month to visit some of the aforementioned grad schools, and it only took a brief stop in Japan to remind me who is producing the really cutting-edge toilets these days. (Hmm, perhaps cutting-edge isn’t really the term I’m looking for, but whatever.)


This one has variable bidet water pressure and an adjustable-volume flushing sound you can turn on for as long as you want, to provide sonic privacy. There wasn’t any air dryer but I’ve heard those are available on some models.

What I want to know is: when will the US close the Toilet Gap? And what is the Obama administration doing about it?