Friday, December 4, 2009

East versus West?

Despite my Indonesian (Sundanese to be exact) roots, the first weeks in Indonesia have mostly made me aware of my infinite Dutchness. I eat rice for lunch, but really need bread for breakfast. I'm pretty laid back when it comes to timing, but if people don't show up for an appointment, I am agitated the rest of the day. With amazement I look at friends that discuss designing and printing 10.000 pamphlets to be distributed all over Indonesia. Before when? Oh, a week from today. Say what?! In the Netherlands we would have packed our bags and gone home (even though distribution "all over" the Netherlands is a whole lot easier). An endeavor like that within such a time frame is bound to fail. Well, not in Indonesia. Here, almost anything is possible. If you just push and shove on the right sides.

This TED India talk by Devdutt Pattanaik talks about these differences of perception. He describes an inherently different way of living. Neither way is good or bad; we just need to realize we have different set of myths we refer to.

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West -- the myths that mystify | Video on

Thursday, December 3, 2009

C'est magnifique!

Discovering a new side of my beloved motherland is more exhausting than I thought beforehand. Almost everything I do has a kodak moment in it or is worth a blog post. And I'm just talking about the little things here: Taking the ojek (motorbike taxi) through little streets and big lanes, speaking Indonesian all day long, lifting weights at a jam-packed gym and shopping at a huge Carrefour in an incredibly busy mall for instance. Mostly it's the interaction with Indonesians that leave a lasting impression: the salsa dance class instructor that yells: "Hey bule (whitey), don't forget the steps again!", friends that want to show the picture of a colleagues' freshly operated skull and myself repeatedly lying that I am married (because how can a thirty-year old NOT be married yet?!). So, when I get home, I hardly have the energy to read a book. But fortunately, there is other amusement. MAD MEN!

As my friend Miriam already described, Mad Men, is a great show. The politically incorrect macho behavior of the advertising hotshots in the Sixties (the secretaries are not just there to type, homosexuality is not tolerated and everyone smokes and drink all the time) makes you realize how much has changed over time. It makes me very happy to be living in this day and age.

The show has won several awards (including an Emmy and Golden Globes) and rightfully so. After escaping the reality here in Manhattan for an hour, I am ready to face Jakarta's craziness again.

Here's a scene from season three. Joan sings "Say-Mah-Nyee-Fee-k Oh law law law" and shows how our current image of (skinny) beauty is false. When it comes to thighs, I say: Hooray for the Sixties!