Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
it just so happens that 2 hours of listening to him talk about how he hasn't called his mom in 3 weeks and how many movies and music he illegally downloads was a date, and i found this out only because he texted his recap of the evening -including "she paid for drinks! :) she's moving to germany :(" - to a friend, and as it turns out, inadvertently to me. it was quickly followed up with "oops, wrong person. want to meet up again?"
how do you spell a-w-k-w-a-r-d?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
the octogenarians are a rough bunch of knee brace wearing, coke bottle prescription goggle sporting beer-bellied old guys. the octogenarians have declared that pre 9am, the racquetball courts at the Y are, [despite the clearly marked rules on the sign-in sheets] "first come first served." try showing up earlier than some old timer who eats dinner at 5 and is in bed by 7. once the octos are in their sealed room, there's no amount of noise that will get their near-deaf attention. so, we don't play racquetball in the mornings anymore.
which is fine, because nothing makes a hangover instantly worse and persistent than being hit with a blue bouncy ball. so we started playing at lunch. lunch times are quiet [when the rest of the courts aren't being used by Y youth camp dodgeball or duck duck goose]. only problem there is you can only block off two and half hours in your schedule for so long until the boss notices you keep coming back from the "opthalmalogist" thrice a week with flushed cheeks and wet hair. some might even go so far as to think you're being someone's mistress and meeting at the Mayflower.
so that leaves evenings, which are indoor sport rush hour. to get a court in the prime time 5:30-8pm range you need to sign up for a tuesday a month from now and hope nothing comes up for you or the person you want to play with between now and then. something most often does. so when my partner and i finally managed to be free for a pre-planned no other engagements 5:15 court time you can imagine we were pretty stoked.
game 1 was close, implemented the win-by-two rule to end at 18-16. we come out for a drink at the water fountain and typical chit-chat preparing for game 2 when i notice two octogenarians stalking our door. out of the corner of my eye one of them sneaks in and the other is about to when my partner, a more imposing muscular man than myself politely intervenes.
"excuse me, but i believe we have that court reserved until 6:30"
and the octo replies, with his eyes amplified 20x by his patented googles "no you don't, WE have court 6 reserved until 6:30"
"no, i'm fairly certain WE reserved court 6 weeks ago"
"no, WE have court 6 reserved."
this goes on and on, with the volume of this altercation rising considerably, partly because of the tangible tension, but also the hearing impairment of one of the parties.
finally, both men's noses are inches apart, like a baseball coach questioning an umpire, though my teammate is clearly towering over the shrinking hunchy old guy, until finally my partner, a lawyer, pokes the geezer gently in the sternum uttering the clincher "oh yeah? well is YOUR name Shapiro??"
the man replies almost instantly "well as a matter of fact it IS!" and slams the door to court 6, locking us out of his abyss of silence.
this is an impasse, someone MUST be lying. because my name is Shapiro and I clearly wrote it inside the two boxes (it's actually against Y by-laws to sign back-to-back but I'll admit i do it anyway) from 5:15-6:45. i even put it in my phone. and my partner even verified it before coming up the stairs to play.
the attourney utters under his breath, "i am not beneath evicting those old farts" and we storm down to the main floor with a score to settle. here lies the clipboard with the day's list of reservations for racquetball and squash. and right there, next to my lefty pencil-ed Shapiro/Butler (who actually isn't a member anymore but i like to think i still play her) is a scraggly handed, wobbly arthiritic lettered all-caps SHAPIRO under court 6. sonofabitch! i guess we're on court 8.
on our way back up the stairs we declare that all court reservations be made under a pseudonym to avoid these types of conflicts in the future. so unless your name just happens to be Gretta Schmelmelstein, you better watch out!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
after 9+ years in this wonderous capitol city, i am off to greener, nay, more sausage-y pastures in Berlin, Deutschland. for years and years and years, everyone has come and left, and me, like the horsey statue at connecticut and columbia, i just stayed.
now, German classes are underway, along with the slow pawning off of my material belongings, extra special quality time with my cat and, of course, all the things i've been meaning to do in DC but for whatever reason haven't.
so, with my few remaining months, here comes the D.C. countdown! because, in 9 years, i've never been to the newseum, haven't eaten at CityZen and i've only been to downtown alexandria...thrice?
what have you been hiding from me, DC?
the well-dressed burrito, for starters.
i was invited to lunch by a guy on the 5th floor, works in development, wears a suit. i saw him sneaking around with a brightyellow plastic bag one day and asked "what's that?" it's a well-dressed burrito.
it's in an alley. the same alley, to be exact, where the www.usps.com says there's a post office, but there isn't, there's just a bunch of mail trucks with surly mailmen who won't take your stamped mail no matter how nicely you ask. it's somewhere between 19th and 20th, M and N, the only noticeable markings is a mexican penguin sign and a black door. no windows. there's a counter, and half the space is someone's office.
for $6 i had tacos that were more like burritos, a full 2 pounds of food which will provide lunch for days to come. it's no super tasty taco or anything (this is more tex-mex) but i felt like i found my own little alley slice of heaven.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
craigslist ad: three month old male kitty. (woodbridge)
hello, i have a three month old lil male kitten. i've had him for about two weeks and i bought him from the humane society, he's had two shots and has been dewormed, he's not nuetered or declawed because my vet wouldn't do it until he was at least six months old. he loves to cuddle and meows at you when you get home. my son likes to throw stuff at him and tries to pull his tail, it's not fair to the kitten so i think it's best if i find him a new home. he comes with cat box, litter, cat food, toy, canned food, cat scratcher, poop scooper, food dish & cat nip. there is a small fee for him so if you are interested please let me know.
so i wrote to them, offering to declaw their kid, or if they want to, keep the kitten and give the little bastard away, i'll take him. and i'll even pay the fee.
the response was not as hilarious as 'emails from an asshole' but people like this shouldn't reproduce. and if do and raise kids who torture animals, well that's when you send in the experts: http://www.rescueink.org/
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
my bro found something which might have been a tendon in his cheeseburger (included with entrance. good brunchin').
the speedos were plenty, the old ladies wrinkled into raisins were impressibly tan, drinks amazingly cheap and the pool unexpectedly deep!
for reals, it says 5 1/2 feet. i slipped in, with my sunglasses on trying to be classy and not to get my hair all wet and i quickly fell into the murky depths, got kicked by a guy on a dragon raft and clawed some girl's thigh when i thought i was going to drown. i wonder if they ever find anyone being sucked into the filter at the bottom of this endless abyss.
oh and then there's this article in the citypaper..couldn't they publish this in the beginning of summer? makes you wonder why there wasn't much of a line for the bathrooms...
all in all a good time, not that i would go every weekend or anything. though i'll probably bring a few baby ruths to toss in, just for fun.
Friday, August 28, 2009
"so you wonder why the most successful country in the world doesn't offer health care to all. Because America was doing it differently, we used to have to go to work everyday to earn an honest days pay for honest days work and we used to be able to afford to live. No we are giving away the farm and no one has to go to work or is motivated to go to work because the harder we work the more the government gives to social programs. Why should I work hard anymore there is no benefit to working hard. No I am going to sit back and let the government provide for me. I want to declare myself and Illegal immigrant from the great nation of Long Island, I want my welfare check, my insurance, my housing subsidies, my families education, and I want it all for sitting on my butt. Now you want to follow the rest of the world, but I thought we were the richest most successful country, why would we want to copy other countries that are obviously not as successful if we are the most successful, if we are on top, why change what works. Just cause some dude who ran for president realized that lazy americans had more time to vote. Take away my ability to strive for more and better than the next guy and I will lay down with the rest of the welfare recipients."
commenter celectric, on newsday.com
Monday, August 24, 2009
cool huge reflective ants, trippy photo-realism, some multi-media, silk creations and other stuff, like my friend who took me up to the rooftop.
the meridian center is cool, random, i can't believe i've never been before. wicked little patio and grand ornate inside, i'm a little surprised the place was so empty. then again, they may have wandered in circles like me looking for the entrance in the vortex of 17th and meridian.
anyway, one of the chinese paintings has some sort of predator creature in it, which was a fine interlude to see district 9. low budget, really? with its nano-second human bodies exploding into nothingness and a splatter of blood on the camera lens, a banal statement on segragation and tentacled creatures with hearts of gold. that's real culture for ya.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
so in the evening, you basically wander the streets and hope to cross paths with one of these pageants, either synchronized dances, little kids with giant sombreros or a 100 foot long dancing fish. a few guys had big papier mache turkeys and cows on their heads with round wheels on them. when you least expect it, someone runs up and lights a fuse and then, in the middle of an eager crowd you get those whiny fireworks and roman candles that make the wheels on the headpiece spin around and create fire spirals. (someone needs to explain to me how papier mache and fireworks are a good combination on someone's head). the guy continues to dance around and little firey ashes rain down on the crowd, it's madness. i think this is my favorite part of the guelagetza.
well, after the mezcal. the reason why no one is drunk on the street is because they're all around the corner at the mezcal festival. it's 15 pesos to get in and there is a live 20 person horn band playing to some of the dancing heads and costumed peoples who must have wandered in from a nearby parade. you make the rounds of the mezcal booths tasting everything from the bottom of the worm barrel to tasty reposado out of little plastic shot glasses. all for free. so it gets kinda rowdy. i thought i was hallucinating when i saw a guy in a tie and mexican wrestler mask dance with a dude with a giant bull head both holding up a large flag with a marijuana leaf on it that read something like "weed is the future." i danced with a goat. we were about to leave when we saw the oro de oaxaca booth which is known as a good mezcal. i bought a mini bottle which came with a free big mezcal sombrero. as if i don't stand out already. so rafa got one too. we were already content with our purchases and leaving but for some reason they rrrrreally wanted us to try all 37 varieties of flavored mezcal. non stop. in a row. one after the other. i felt like i was in a fraternity reality show but as a crowd gathered around it just seemed normal to down shot after shot after shot after shot after shot. kiwi flavored! yum! throw the shot glass on the ground. handed another. vanilla creme! yum! throw the shot glass on the ground. now try mango! this went on for a good 15 minutes when i realized my world was spinning while all these varieties were fighting themselves in my stomach and i just might vomit right now. i high fived a bunch of mexicans and zig zagged towards the exit. it took us 25 minutes to find our hotel which was only a block away as we took more of a spiral route, honed in by our instincts. the sad part was that at this time, it was only 9:45 pm. we hadn't even had dinner yet.
you can imagine how painful the consequent hangover is when there are 1/4 sticks of dynamite being set off outside your hotel room all night, and the drunk tuba and trumpet players that drank mezcal on my stoop and played a boozy version of la cucaracha until dawn. make it stop!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
i imagine some sort of violent musical feud between rival mariachi gangs. smashed bloody instruments, would make a good movie. in reality though, it's more of a horror genre that quickly turns ugly. the mariachi can be aggressive, and as they can also be expensive (mariachi is actually a luxury good) so you can get yourself into trouble if you're not careful.
and if you happen to be driving by, roll up your windows! they actually swarm vehicles like in a zombie movie and will try to play to you inside your car. it's el mariachi! step on it! don't worry if a mandolin guy rolls over the hood, we've got to get out of here!
Monday, July 27, 2009
first of all, a mariachi band, now that's a great service. i unfortunately found out the hard way that you can't just give them what you want, but you actually ask what a song costs, then negotiate, then let them play. i happened to invite a $35/song mariachi band to our table and they nearly spat in my face when i offered 10 pesos. what? que? we barely even listened to the song and we probably would have to get our money's worth. and the last thing you want is an angry mariachi.
we've seen the lighters in the form of louis vuitton purses, a watch with el demon azul on it that to this day i regret turning away and an 8 year old selling those eyeglasses with eyes painted on the lenses, so you can pretend to not be sleeping in a meeting. i found my pair far more valuable to have to put on when anyone starts telling a boring story. vincente is telling us about his hacienda. glasses on, yawn.
then there was the bearded lady who comes up to us, clicking two metal sticks together, holding a home-made box full of D batteries connected to these two metal sticks by a long wire...the mexicans couldn't believe i've never willingly paid for an electric shock before. "it's awesome!" to which i respond, no wonder why your GDP is so low, eh? i don't want to perpetuate stereotypes, but in this case i'm quite happy to.
so we try it together. 10 pesos paid, i hold one anode, rafa the other, and we hold hands. before she even turns the dial to 1 i imagine myself going into cardiac arrest and start jumping around uncomfortably. a 1.5 i feel a static, this is not enjoyable. a 2, 3, a twitch is running up my forearms and i can't take it anymore, i let it go. the he-woman is all "this level is for children! "you do this to kids?? rafa takes it to 8, and walks away, content. what a macho.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
arriving in D.F. i was met by my host's driver who spoke fast spanish as he took me along a fantastic route through the city. i recognized when we were passing through sexytown even before he muttered something about that 'gente fea.' you can say that again. fattie mexican ladies with skirts so short and see-through they surpass the definition of one.
next, we stop outside el dr. rafa's place of work, the ministry of education. my friend rafa gets mad respect for his phD from Cambridge, hence the title "el doctor." he'll often say "listen, por favor, please don't call me el doctor" and the reponse with a bowed head. "si, doctor."
ironically, just outside the ministry of education there's a guy hawking totally passable diplomas from esteemed universities. you can get a phD in physics from Harvard for $20! i'm going to see if there's a degree in partying from Tiajuana University. or maybe fastrack a master's in Botany from SUNY Buffalo?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
here we are with the flying squad elephants of Tesso Nilo national park in Sumatra. these trained elephants are indonesia's way of trying to control the roving wild elephants who raid crops and kill people. the elephants and their mahouts patrol and get called in when there's a conflict with local communities. it's also potentially an eco-tourism thing but they haven't gotten that far yet. but i'm not sure they're ready for that - these elephants don't exactly listen that well. when they really want to eat a branch, they do. if they want to roll around at a river crossing and spray water with their trunks, it's their call. and i think they forget that my little feet are dangling off their sides when they rub up against a prickly tree. but they do pick flowers if you ask them nicely (like this variety of ginger) or clear a giant fallen tree from the trail. (i imagine having an elephant in long island, clearing branches after a hurricane, it would be perfect).
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
our trek back to town was much shorter than the way there, our convoy of two vans was able to take the direct route back, although with a few modifications due to broken bridges and landslides. this route, called the USAID road after it's funding source has "Aid from the American people" written the whole way from Calang to Banda Aceh. everytime we were reminded of this, i would be reminded in a rather cynical way that this is alee's road! obama's road! it wasn't perfect, pretty bumpy at times, spectacular at others.
sometimes it was paved and smooth, sometimes dirt and rocks and mud. we would often come to a fork in said road and there's no way of knowing which is the actual road, and which is a sneaky road that leads you to a distant village someone wants you to unknowingly visit. then, there's the guy with the homemade sign, standing out in the blisering sun waving you towards him. the sign has a bunch of painted scribble with the words quick, banda aceh and other stuff. the driver lowers the window and i ask, "what does the sign say? he says "shortcut!" with a huge toothless enterprising grin. my horror movie trained instints say no, don't trust the guy pointing you down a scary muddy road, but i'm not driving. we pay him his little fee and scramble down a path. we pass a lady who is drying octopus on hangers and selling baby hammerhead sharks for 30 cents each (sigh). they STINK. and finally we come to the rafts, the infamous river crossing rafts the Red Cross lady warned me about. you're not allowed to take official vehicles on these rafts, but ours are rentals. she specifically told me: take your important things with you, your passport, your plane ticket and make sure you ride on a different boat than your vehicle, take the motorbike boat. it was all very eerie. so i'm rifling through my bag looking for my most important things and everyone is laughing - if we sink you'll get eaten by the crocodiles in a second, why are you worried about your passport?
we're entering into the sorta districts where not many whiteys are seen so in this little port town i'm the main attraction, especially because i'm with this ragtag group of indonesians. i tell you, when the day comes where i'm in a town like this and i DON'T have 5 guys screaming "hey miss! you are my girlfriend!" i will finally reach the pinnacle moment where i realize that i'm an an old, ugly, undesirable bule. and i will be very, very sad, unless i'm living on my island right there.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
so the park lane hotel in jakarta as you can imagine had nice fuzzy slippers. the maharani had the ones you get at a chinese pedicure place, passable. where we're staying in calang, they're like paper flip flops, you'd probably give them out at an airport security checkpoint. literally disposable.
azhar wears them everywhere.
we're walking through a ravine to get to a makeshift gold mine and there's azhar with his little white paper slippers and i'm wondering if it's a bragging thing, like, hey i'm checked in at the pantai barat, where are you staying?
um, the pantai barat isn't exactly finished yet. this whole spot was pretty much erased by the tsunami so i won't hold it against them. they're missing most of the second floor (i went up there and it's a great place to dry your laundry) and pretty much all of the major walls and finishings, like door numbers. there's a random table and some chairs out in a courtyard that we use to work and hold meetings, it's very rustic.
i'm in a room that faces the clunky old generator. i thought about asking them to shut it off at night, but then that means no A/C so it comes down to hot and quiet vs. cold and loud? what do you think?
Friday, May 22, 2009
we all pile out of the car - i usually forget to let poor mahmoud out of the back back and he's all aleeeeee!!! [that's what they all call me] until i'm all, where is mamoud? and then remember to free him. by this time, azhar has already high-fived the staff, shouted out his order and sat down and is being served his meal. when the waiter comes back, azhar commandeers him with his crazy drink request, something like, 30% tomato juice, 20% milk and 50% grapefruit, which means blender guy is busy for the next half hour making this napolitano looking thing and i have smoke coming out of my ears from the spicy noodles and have nothing to wash it down with. by the time i slurp my mango juice (the ice doesn't even have time to melt and make me sick!) and try to order another, azhar has eaten all the tasty crisps and cucumber slices off my plate (i save them for last!), realizes he is out of cigarettes and announces it's time to go.
he got what was coming tonight though when he wandered off into a ditch one night after eating and then frantically phoned joel asking to get a ride back to the hotel IMMEDIATELY.
for lunch one day we go to a place i pick out, why? i don't know, i saw a bunch of scooters parked outside this place and thought, it must be good! they serve bakso - meatballs! at all these places they have tupperware of little snack foods that you eat and pay with an honor system. sometimes you have little peanut butter sandwiches, or cake, this time it was those tasty crisps, the seafood puff things that are served everywhere. so i'm gobbling these down, nom nom nom. my meatball soup gets served waaaaay too quickly to be fresh but i eat it anyway, and wash it all down with a tasty guava juice.
the next day we are at the shop getting snacks for the road and i point out the crispy treats from the night before. should we get some?!
oki says "alee, do you know what these are made of?"
deliciousness! i say
oki: "the other day, when you were eating these, pak tri made me promise never to tell you what they are made of, but i would like to tell you. would you like to know?"
"buffalo skin! fried in buffalo fat!" ew, these are like those pork skin puffs you see at the 7-11! nasty. and off he goes, laughing, pointing to a buffalo with crooked horns in the distance.
i no longer want to buy any and am plotting my subtle revenge.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
there were 5 of us in the car, me and a bunch of guys. oki and mahmoud from the training i gave in jakarta, the driver joel (who has the whitest most perfect teeth for someone who chain smokes) and azhar, your sortof indonesian john goodman, a sloppy joe in a big loveable huggable bear sortof way. he's all "can you believe they stopped me at the canadian border for three hours?" i do actually, and don't blame them....he curses, he smokes, he sweats, he drinks, he burps, he's always late, he talks about cannabis, which isn't saying much for his muslim traditions, but every time he opens his mouth (which is just about all the time) everyone is laughing, in tears. i don't need to understand what he's saying, it's hilarious.
so, we have this huge long trip ahead of us, but that doesn't prevent us from driving 5km/hour because we have to get the music juuuuuust right. the driver has this mp3 flash disk thing and he has to skip through thirty songs to the right one before we can start moving at a normal pace, and that song might be "more than words" by mr. big, or a bon jovi techno remix. we also stop just about every 45 minutes to pee, smoke, pray, or eat noodles. it's funny how they say it too, "aurelgrooves, we have to stop and take a pray" which is about as common and nonchalant as needing a poo break. so they do their thing, take their shoes off and wander into one of the 5 mosques each little town has, and i get to walk around, get oggled by the locals, drink some taaaaaaaaasty coffee! buy some more snakeskin fruit because azhar keeps eating them all, and maybe i'll find a bathroom, a ghastly horrid hole in the ground that makes me want to stop eating and drinking, so i'll never have to visit one of those things again.
i still can't for the life of me understand how the whole loo setup is supposed to work. there's a hole, and there's a bucket of water with a small ladle like thing in it. that's IT. these people eat with their hands! somehow you're supposed to come out of this bathroom clean and dry. ummm...? did some guy with pee hands touch that same ladle?
in my hotel room the first night i went to the front desk laughing, hahaha you forgot to give me toilet paper! and they're like, no we didn't. and so oki was about to explain how it works, "so you have the bucket..." and then he just mumbled something to hotel guy, who ran out and bought me a roll. i like the part where you can pee in the shower, because the toilet IS the shower but still...ok, so really, don't these people ever poop?*
*my colleagues must have been reading my facebook status because when we were at the American Red Cross office they found me a little education sheet on hygeine, it has pictures of how to clean your butt with the bucket thing. thanks guys!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
1. i have a new ojek (scooter taxi). his name is mr. minh, and it was the scooter pimp who picked him specially for me. the way it works is you can't just walk up to a scooter guy and ask him to take you somewhere, you have to go to the pimp guy who runs the scene.
you tell scooter pimp where you want to go and he scans his team, usually a bunch of guys asleep against a wall or something, yet he is a lieutenant with his police force. he'll call out the destination, like it's an honor.
scooter pimp points to... mr. minh! you'e the man for the job!
mr. minh is bad assss. he has an old school leather helmet, matching vest with rivets and chaps, which he wears with...plastic flip flops (of course). he suped up his suzuki so it makes tons of noise, like a hog, everyone hears him coming. he has one of those really loud clown horns instead of the whiny factory installed beeeeep. he is the chinese easy rider.
mr. minh has no mercy, and he is a man of opportunity. when that space is closing between two vehicles, mr. minh goes for it, like indiana jones we make it just in time.
mr. minh is a super fast scooter walker. when the going gets tight and you have to walk your scooter between the cars, he scoots around everyone else, maybe even via the sidewalk and takes us to the front of the line, mr. minh is the leader of the pack.
and mr. minh doesn't talk. i hate these guys who blab and gab when you want them to shut up and pay attention to the dangers of the road. mr. minh just listens. mr. minh is my new scooter man.
2. i finally started getting some exercise. i got kicked out of the gym, because my only footwear are flip flops. whatever, i don't enjoy working out in a nightclub atmosphere anyway (blaring techno music, blinking lights, what?). well they they can't keep me from the pool! with the turtle fountain in the middle of a figure 8 thing, it's an endless lap. and they certainly can't keep me from peeing in it. ha. and a jacuzzi? in 98 degree weather? heat stroke? why not?
3. a swiss intern needed new photos for a travel visa to papua. her pictures were on blue background, and she needed red background. go figure. instead of getting a new picture taken, there's a guy who can scan and photoshop them onto a new background, cheaper and quicker. so this indonesian intern, puteri takes us to a place over lunch. we're trying to cross the road, and traffic is nuts, puteri says, you have to just go! indonesian style! and she walks confidently right out into traffic, with her hand out - but no one stops. poor girl! she is in the middle of 4 lanes and we're terrified and she is all, come on! you have to just go! i got a nice picture of her.
4. i bought something called "beef floss" at the bread king. ummmm. there's chicken floss too. 5. i have a good scam going with the hotel where i get free dry cleaning. the key is to call late at night, like 10:30 and ask for an iron. they're usually out of them at that time and so you make a stink like, i have a big meeting! i'm important! i can't wear wrinkled clothes! and they give you free dry cleaning for 2 pieces of clothing. since i only have a total of 4 shirts anyway, i only need to do this twice a week. perfect!
6. I had a nightmare about orangutans last night. they were sortof like zombies, slowing climbing inside open windows, forcing open doors and yearning for brains, with their glowing yellow laser eyes. a japanese woman i work with here had the antedote. i haven't seen any orangutans yet, but the indonesian word for person is 'orang' so i'm reminded of them pretty often. and i call my students my little orangutans. maybe this is their revenge.
7. our office is very thin and small, but very vertical. there are actually 6 1/2 floors (dutch guy works in a storage room under the roof). there are days when i think i do the equivelent of a hundred floors, up down up down as the elevator takes too long and i need the exercise. i'm terrified i'm going to slip and smash my face on the while tile. sometimes we use the phone, but people move around a lot, so we end us sending text messages. right before lunch, my phone will start buzzing with messages. messages like "want to come for gado gado to makanan jajanan with us?" loveit!
8. there's a guy nearby who has a small monkey as a pet, and treats it horribly. it was a tight chain around its neck and he sortof swings it around, the chain is so short the monkey's feet barely touch the ground. so the swiss girl and i think we should pool our money together and buy it off him and set it free somewhere. the indonesians think we're nuts.
oki says "silly girls, that guy will never sell his monkey to a bule!"
so we say, congratulations oki, you have just volunteered to buy a monkey for us!
papua guy sitting next to us overhears the last sentence "what on earth are you guys talking about?"
we ignore him. i think we should steal the monkey, because if we buy it, it will give him an inventive to get another one to sell it.
oki becomes sad. "someone in my village keeps stealing my cats, probably to sell them. they are very beautiful cats. i still have 10 left though!"
operation monkey is currently on hold.
Monday, May 18, 2009
on friday night i went out on the town with the swiss intern. we made a miserable attempt at going to some neighborhood that someone had recommended is a "must see." whenever i said "i want to go to the roxy area tonight" anyone in jakarta would say
"oh, you want to buy a cell phone?"
well no, i want satay.
"you can get satay anywhere"
yeah, but it's supposed to be the best satay...oh nevermind. so it was just a nice hour-long taxi ride around the city and i got to see all the sights. jakarta, check.
when we realized the place we wanted to go was really a pit of abandoned buildings we sortof named neighborhoods off the top of our heads until it seemed to ring a bell with the taxi driver, who was just loving this meandering ride that was going to land him a nice 50,000 rupiah.
we found a nice outdoor area with all these carts lined up and we get satay that just instantly knots my stomach (swiss intern has been on the turlet ever since). i order a couple fantas to wash it down. we were constantly surrounded by weird guys buying us food, whatever, no, really, i don't want any more fried chicken, but thank you...at this point i realize i have an extra 4 thousand rupiah on my hands so let's get these live musician skinny guys with oversized shoes over here.
"i want you to play bon jovi until i tell you to stop" and i put my bills into the guitar hole and they start a rockin'. it turned into an all out singalong with all our new boyfriends, it was great.
after the musicians were tired out they asked to choose the next song "never say goodbye." it was touching. then they ask us our names and one of them points to the swiss girl "blood diamond! blood diamond!" and after a good long think i realize they are saying she looks like jennifer connolly. oh right, she totally does. then they turn to me and i'm already smiling, i know, i know, sarah jessica parker sex in the city, yeah, i get it all the time.
"no no no! not her, someone else...she's a singer, actress...Barabara Streisand!"
and that's when i told them to take their guitars and SHOVE IT, we are no longer friends.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
we walk past all these great local places to enter...a comedy club.
the place is like buca di beppo during mardi gras, chile pepper lights and flair and sombreros and pictures of jay leno. it's run by these guys with spikey hair, mod bleached jeans, tight bright satin shirts, limp wrists and a swagger. anytime someone went through the door they would sing in unison "hiii-eeeeeeeeee!" or "bye-eeeeeeeeee!"
all the rice bowl dishes were named after comedians - i had the karl marx chicken coconut curry. everything came out one by one, as we figured they only had one wok in the kitchen. there was a stage with a mic, with a fake brick wall with the comedy club logo in the spotlight. i presume the entertainment was the fat guy in the campy straw hat who looked real nervous. i felt bad because either he would tell his jokes in indo-english i.e. with no verbs, or in indonesian to a bunch of foreigners who wouldn't understand a thing. poor guy.
meanwhile tvs everywhere were playing stand up - all in english, at ear piercing decibel volume, so we could barely talk and top of that, it was all *extremely* vulgar. it was sortof hard to follow conversation - so, aurelgrooves, how are you liking jarkar-[i had to edit here, my parents read this] "so i'm [having intimite relations with] this [nice african-american lady] in the [rear end], right?" oh, i'm sorry were you talking to me? thankfully, detailed buttsex guy was followed by andrew dice clay. who doesn't like the diceman? ooh oooh ohhhhhhh!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
maharani was fancy! fancy! nothing under $3! i pick something with peanut sauce - i've ordered peanut or coconut sauce every time we go out, but it always ends up just being some sort of broth with neither ingredient. so i order this skewer thing with rice and the waiter goes, with chicken, yes? and i say no, i'll try lamb.
"really? you want lamb? no, you want chicken."
why wouldn't i want lamb? (oh, i'll just skip to the punchline - why the hell am i ignoring the advice of the waiter anyway - because it's more like goat tendon).
so, i end up ordering the goat tendon, but not after he recommends everything else on the menu.
does this come with vegetables? i haven't eaten any vegetables in days.
he points to the salads - raw vegetables is generally the last thing you want to eat for hygeine...
he shows me something with vegetables and peanut dipping sauce.
yum, the elusive peanut sauce.
are the vegetables cooked?
"they are cold"
but are they cooked?
"they are cold"
they are probably not cooked, so i stick with my first choice.
well it wasn't peanut sauce, but it was a delicious tangy sweet and savory mixture, in a gravy boat. lots of little red onions! i poured it all over my rice. the meat was barely edible, for reasons stated above. i am surviving on rice and tasty mystery sauce. so it's the truth: my brother's rice diet is really the way to go.
for lunch the next day, i head back to the street with all the vendors. i can't tell what is appetizing so i go for something safe - the fruit guy. i pick some grapefruit, watermelon, 2 mystery fruits and i ask for manga - mango.
so i'm chatting up his friends, taking some pictures and he's cutting everything up and putting it in a bundle. i know i got ripped off when it was 3 times what i was expecting, but can you really haggle over 50 cents?* that is what i ended up paying. as i walk away i hear them all laugh. jerks
so i get back to my desk and open up the bag and there's a little dimebag of brownish salt and a little package of super spicy sauce that burns my eyes. weird. i munch through all the tasty fruit until i get to the mango. it's totally green, completely inedible. my dutch colleague comes in and i'm all can you believe these guys? first they rip me off then they give me a totally unripe mango. and he's all no, that's manga. did they give you the spicy sauce?
"well that's how you eat it, duh"
ummm, i don't think it will help.
so what happens when it rains? the cart people are nowhere to be found, yet the office is empty so people are eating somewhere...ha, i found them! in the basement, well actually, the parking garage. you take the elevator down to B1 and walk between all the scooters and cars and at the end, a teeny tiny shop. it's a million degrees, their air conditioner has been broken forever, only one measly fan. about 12 dishes are so are displayed inside a glass case (yes, keep telling yourself this stuff was made less than 20 minutes ago) and there's no line, you either creep around the back of the case and grab a lady directly, or wave your money in someone's face to get their attention. if it's to-go they'll fold up a brown paper bag into an amazingly leak-proof container, wrapped in a rubber band.
they start by give you a whopping volume of rice and then you point and choose. the things that i thought were dumplings were actually hard boiled, then fried eggs. yum! i had some tempeh with peanuty sauce and some super spicey vegetables (i'll be more vigilant about inspecting for peppers). i don't know how they come up with the price, but for over a pound of food, 6,000 rupiah (60 cents). i'm so full.
*i gave my 10 year old scooter taxi guy a 25 cent tip the other day for driving extra slow after he was driving like a madman and chit chatting away blah blah blah! i like obama! i eat fish! my mom has long hair! and i told him i would pay him to shut up and hug the curb. when i gave it to him he bowed and tried to kiss my feet. then he asked me for my phone number - ew, feet breath!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
so i've been working with this dutch guy for hours and finally i'm all, let's go get lunch. and he says, i don't really eat lunch. uhhh, you mean we're just keep doing this all day? he says "no, i eat lunch, only just a little bit, like a few crackers, just to fill me up. otherwise i get sleepy, and fat." (dude is super skinny). so i can agree with that, these lunches have been pretty hefty.
when he said crackers, i'm thinking those puffy shrimp cracker things. no problemo, let's go get some. he takes me out the back way of the office, had no idea it was even there and this little courtyard opens up on an abandoned lot full of cart vendor guys. there's a bunch of them under some trees, and another down a little side street and some even have little tables.
oh, looks like mr. pirhata is traveling to singapore! this is his travel order, the list of the hotels he is staying in, the people he will be meeting with. i hope he made copies! and we have a good laugh.
so this is what you call a light lunch?? he says, "actually, it's all cooked in palm oil, which is quitehealthy." oh, you mean the palm oil from the plantations that pop up in forests faster than i can map them? palm oil as in the number one cause of forest fires and deforestation in Borneo, Sumatra and Papua??
i'd say that's all pretty heavy.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Islands, Pulau Seribu, more specifically, Pulau Sepa. the boat was a torpedo shaped vessel, a
veritable people oven with little airholes for you to stick your nose out like a dog. less than 4 minutes in my seat and i started to hallucinate and so i went and sat out back with
the dive gear next to the thousand decibel engines and delightful motor oil fumes. we left jakarta towards the java sea in a meandering circuit to avoid all the floating
garbage. several times we had to halt from full speed as something was stuck in the propeller
- plastic bags, flip flops or tighty whiteys (or at this point, soggy brownies). the boat guy
would do whatever he could to avoid touching the toxic water, using a pole or piece of
floating garbage even to free the engines.
very talkative racist flamey frenchie (who would have a cigarette in his hand if it weren't
for all the gasoline around.) "oh les asiatiques ca va jusqu'a un point mais les gens qui me
fouent vraiment en rogne, c'est les africains de la gard du nord, putain ceux-la!" he yapped
the whole way long, pretty funny stories about living in malaysia and singapore, his favorite
place in the world "oh, it's the switzerland of asia!"
islands with trees and white beaches, and after 90 minutes..welcome to Sepa!i elbowed through everyone in front of me and ran right to the desk to check in my bungalow -
flipper 3B! i'm relishing all the foliage, cute little rattan huts with front porches.
quarters and all these little hideouts for me to read and just relax. at one point i became
very courageous and told myself that i should actually do something to be proud of while
here, instead of just sitting around getting a sunburn. so i decided to jump off the pier and
snorkel around the edge of the reef to the boat launch, pretty far. i pictured being dragged
out to sea, shark attack and a number of other grizzly deaths but i did it anyway. and it was
spectacular. one would never imagine less than 20 feet from my bungalow, bright blue staghorn
corals, really huge fish that were coming right up in my face because i was on
their turf and they scared me so i swam faster and faster, and then fish that i thought were
barracuda but they weren't and i was swimming as fast as i could i did it all in 10 minutes,
but i was very happy with myself and went back to my chair.
there was some obnonxiously loud cover band playing at every mealtime, which sorta ruined the whole relaxation vibe. so we sat as far away from possible. our french conversation continued
as we were all comparing our accomodations and it became abundantly clear that i was staying
in the utmost crappiest room on the island - and paying way more than everyone else. ripoff!
alex had the cheapest room and it was spotless, impeccable. the others all had cabins
like mine, but somehow they landed the ones that didn't have mold, leaky ceilings, ants, poop
smell. so that was the recurring joke of the weekend...
bushes, the elusive 6 foot long lizard that everyone on the island has seen but me.
matin je te jure que ca va mal se passer, oh, non mais!" and he storms off. after dinner german guy bought us all beers and asked us all blunt intrusive questions. so german.
crabs on the beach and alex says between puffs "ah ca alors, les chinois ils sont doues pour
manger n'importe quoi!" we went out to the pier to watch the lightning and feel the wind and
we finally come back to see what this annoying band is all about.live music in indonesia is never just live music - it's live karaoke band. we go into the
restaurant hut and this brother sister team they're all, want to sing? want to sing? everyone
on this paradise island has gone to bed, or anywhere far away from this band, perhaps to listen
to the swaying palms and lapping waves but now we will now annoy the shit out them with our
karaoke. bring it.
it a night. i somehow slept through a fierce rainstorm and was the first at breakfast..mmmnoodles. when we all meet up again, we compare all the little areas we missed with sunscreen - i have a weird pattern on my chest and oh, crap, the german guy has my handprints on his back. woopsies! we also all have terrible back pain, as the lounge chairs aren't as much lounging apparatus as they are spine shattering devices.
we board the torpedo and set off, flying and crashing over waves, giving my breakfast a nice
ride, i get that free falling feeling in my chest. ugh, i'm trying not to lose my lunch on
german guy. i ask him to to openthe little window and as soon as he does we hit a wave and
water splashes all over his face. but it's too hot to keept the window shut, i tell him. he's
going straight to the airport and back to germany, isn't a salty face a good souvenir? we
play with the window the whole way home, trying to find the perfect amount of dry air. we
pass one of the smaller boats that alex is on, and three people are puking over the side. we
stop a few more times to free the propellers and soon enough we're back near jakarta and you
can smell the nasty. everyone in the boat is totally asleep, how do they do it? it's a
freaking roller coaster. i get german guy to open the window one more time because it's just.
so. hot. and as soon as he does we hit a big wave full of garbage, but this time the brown
smelly water doesn't hit him, or goes right by his head and all over a sleeping grandpa. his
glasses and shirt are soaked and he doesn't wake up. awesome. we arrive at port and i share a super sketchy cab with alex - the driver, a muslim and therefore usually the more trustworthy of the lot is somehow arguing that his meter is broken and he wants a lump fare, which is the first sign of a major ripoff. we're haggling between 4 and 5 dollars (which is the like the most expensive cab ride possible) and finally realize it's kind of ridiculous and so we just go. we drop alex off first, give the guy the cash and then i'm all, ok, now me and the guy is all park lane hotel? no problem and turns his meter on. mutherfucker.