Tuesday, November 28, 2006

las ciudades continuas / the continuous cities

Si al tocar tierra en Trude no hubiese leido el nombre de la ciudad escrito en grandes letras, habria creido llegar al mismo aeropuerto del que partiera. Los suburbios que tuve que atravesar no eran diferentes de aquellos otros, con las mismas casas amarillentas y verdosas. Siguiendo las mismas flechas bordeaban los mismos jardines, las mismas plazas...

Italo Calvino, Las ciudades invisibles.
If when I touched land in Trude I hadn't read the name of the city written in big letters, I would have thought I had reached the same airport I had departed from. The slums I had to go through were not different from those other ones, with the same yellowish and greenish houses. Following the same arrows bordered the same gardens, the same squares...


Postrada en una cama en un hospital de un pais extranyo por una semana. La vida da muchas vueltas sin duda. Cuando el martes pasado empece a sentir esa fiebre abrasadora pense que era gripe. Por que cada vez que tengo algo medianamente grave mi cabeza automaticamente lo clasifica como gripe? Paracetamol y arreando me dije a mi misma.

Tras una noche en blanco de duchas y compresas frias me arrastre como pude hasta el medico mas cercano y menos mal que estaba realmente cerca, no creo que hubiese llegado mucho mas lejos de lo que llegue sin desplomarme. Tras descartar la gripe aviar (gracias ala!, Vishnu y Buda) y sobrellevar el momento sin que me diera un ataque al corazon, el medico diagnostico una nueva infeccion de orina, esta vez que llegaba a los rinyones. Antibioticos y para el hotel.

Pero algo no iba bien. La fiebre no bajaba. Yo en vez de mejor cada minuto me encontraba peor y ante la posibilidad de pasar otra noche terrorifica en la habitacion de hotel con compresas heladas y viajes a la ducha decidi caminar como pude hasta el hospital mas cercano en busca del bendito cartel "Emergency".

Tras las mil y una pruebas al final lo descubrieron. Dengue: El rompehuesos. La enfermedad hace honor a su sobrenombre, lo admito. Poco a poco vuelvo a revivir. La fiebre me ha abandonado por todo un dia y vuelvo a tener apetito. Me siento poco a poco mejor.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


If I'm born a man in my next life I want to be born in Singapore... All these beautiful women with amazingly perfect skins wearing these short skirts and shorts and those skimpy top tanks... Actually If in my next life I'm born a woman I'd also like to be born in Singapore. Singapore combines the eficiency of some western countries with the stillness and the warmth of the asian countries.
Coming from Indonesia everything seems more magnificent and ultra modern. Big leds screens on the streets, tampons on the shelves of the supermarkets, women showing hair, neck, shoulders, beautiful long legs... I feel like it's impossible that these two worlds, and many more, are able to co-exist but they are.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

las ciudades y los ojos / the cities and the eyes

[...] Los habitantes de Valdrada saben que todos sus actos son a la vez ese acto y su imagen especular, que posee la especial dignidad de las imagenes, y esta conciencia les impide abandonarse ni un solo instante al azar y al olvido. Cuando los amantes mudan de posicion los cuerpos desnudos piel contra piel buscando como ponerse para sacar mas placer el uno del otro [...], incluso entonces no es tanto el acoplarse [...] lo que importa como el acoplarse de las imagenes limpidas y frias en el espejo.
El espejo acrecenta unas veces el valor de las cosas, otras lo niega. No todo lo que parece valer fuera del espejo resiste cuando se refleja [...]
Las dos Valdradas viven la una para la otra, mirandose constantemente a los ojos, pero no se aman.
Italo Calvino, Las ciudades invisibles.
[...] The inhabitants of Valdrada are aware that all their deeds are those deeds and, at the same time, their specular reflection, which possesses the especial dignity of images, and this awareness prevents them from abandoning themselves at random or oblivion for a single moment. When lovers change the position of their naked bodies skin against skin seeking for a new posture in order to enjoy more from each other [...] even then it's not the coupling itself what matters but the coupling to limpid and cold images in the mirror.
Sometimes the mirror increases the value of things, other times it denies it. Not everything that seems worthy outside the mirror resists when it's reflected [...]
The two Valdradas live one for the other, looking each other constantly right in the eyes, but they are not in love.
Italo Calvino, The invisible cities.

rainy season

Gloomy sunny me
sweet and sour now and then
once more Sun and Rain

Friday, November 17, 2006

el imperio de los sentidos / the empire of the senses

Mi vida transcurre al compas de mis sentidos, todo a mi alrededor, mas que nunca, baila al son de mis percepciones...
Aquella bocina que suena a lo lejos es el vendedor de fruta fresca. Pinya, sandia, papaya, mango y mil frutas tropicales cuyos nombres soy incapaz de recordar ni repetir.
La cancioncita del vendedor de helados (juraria que esta sincronizada con los pedales de su bicicleta) que siempre pasa a la misma hora: con el canto que llega desde los minaretes al mediodia desde todos los rincones de la ciudad, como reverberado, canto que se repite mas tarde, justo antes de comenzar mis clases, a las tres, y con la caida del sol, a las seis. Ya no uso reloj.
El sonido de un coco golpeando una madera anuncia a lo lejos leche de coco y dulces.
El olor que percibo es el de la fabrica de caucho, dulzon y amargo a la vez, mezclado con el de las buganvillas y los framboyanes en flor.
Y veo miles de coches, motos y bicicletas a los que sortear con agilidad y rapidez para no ser arrollada cada dia de camino a la escuela, en mi fragil y destartalada bicicleta. Deporte de riesgo. Cualquier norma de trafico, antes venerada y practicada con asiduidad, cae en el olvido cuando cada dia me monto en mi bici para ir a trabajar. El sentido comun no funciona en las carreteras y calles indonesias, las tres normas basicas de funcionamiento son:
1) El primero que llega es el primero que pasa.
2) Si soy mas grande tengo prioridad.
3) Yo no paro nunca, los demas ya me veran.
Todo esto aderezado con unos cuantos potentes golpes de claxon.
Y toco y pruebo cada dia manjares deliciosos.
Comiendo con las manos todo sabe mejor.
My life goes by at the rhythm of my senses, everything around me, more than ever, dances at the sound of my perceptions...
That horn that sounds far away is the fresh fruit vendor. Pineapple, watermelon, papaya, mangos and thousands of tropical fruits whose names I'm unable to recall.
The ice cream seller's tune (which I'd swear it is synchronized to the rhythm of his pedals) that always passes by at the same time: with the chant that arrives from the mosques at noon from all the corners of the city, reverbed, chant that is repeated later, just before I start my classes, at three and at dusk. I don't wear a watch any more.
The sound of a coconut drumming a wood foretells coconut milk and sweets.
The smell I perceive comes from the rubber factory, sweet and sour, mixed with the one from the bougainvilleaes and bloomed framboyans.
And I see thousands of cars, motorbikes and bycicles to which I have to get round with agility and rapidity in order to avoid being run over on my way to school every day, on my fragile ramshackle bike. Any traffic regulation way back followed and worshipped is forgotten when I go on my bicycle every day. Common sense does not work in the Indonesian streets and roads, the three main rules are:
1) The first one is the first to go.
2) If I'm bigger i have priority.
3) I don't stop ever, every one else will do.
And I touch and eat the most delicious foods every day. Eating with your hands everything tastes better.

cajon de sastre (6)

Tras muchas vueltas en la cama pensando que frases publicar (los amigos me han empezado a mandar cosas que leen, que se les ocurren, que escriben...) los seleccionados esta semana para la famosa, trepidante, interesante y fulminante seccion de cajon de sastre son:

"Cuando atrapas la belleza esta desaparece" (yo que para eso decido) / "When you trap the beauty, it disappears" (myself)

"Dark eye attraction
bodes the wreckages of friendships
Sweet clouds fog my thoughts"

Chris Harper. (thanks... it's beautiful)

"Follar con un ex es necrofilia" / "Having sex with an ex is necrophilia"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

daily ritual

These days the Sun and the Rain fancy playing Hide and Seek...

In the morning it's the Rain's turn to hide and we, mortal souls, go out on the streets without noticing that the mighty game is on.

All morning long clouds grow larger and darker. These clouds forcast rain, our cherished rain. Rain that heals, Rain that refreshes, Rain that gives us a break...

In the afternoon, the Sun has to hide. For some hours, everything seems to come to an end. Life stops. Thunders and lightings. Everyone hides wherever they can, underneath a tree, at the corner's magazine shop... No one wants to be caught.

After a while the Sun rises again as if nothing happened. Today's game is over.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

mil maneras de no hacer una bombilla o cajon de sastre (5)

Thomas Edison antes de lograr inventar la bombilla llevo a cabo 1.000 intentos. 1000 intentos, nada mas y nada menos. Cuando un periodista le pregunto que como se sentia despues de haber fracasado 1.000 veces el, confiado, contesto "Se equivoca usted profundamente, no he fracasado 1.000 veces, ahora conozco mil maneras diferentes de no hacer una bombilla".
Before being able to invent the bulb Thomas Edison had to try a 1.000 times. 1.000 times, nothing more nor less. When a journalist asked him how he felt after having failed 1.000 times, he answered self-confident "You are deeply wrong, I haven't failed a thousand times, now I know a thousand different ways not to make a bulb"

in the middle of the rice paddie

Rice fields and more Rice fields.


The wild life I have seen in Sumatera sumps up snakes, montior lizards, massive rats and all sorts of bugs...

...and beautiful butterflies and dragonflies...


Friday, November 10, 2006

los calores de los tropicos / tropical swelter

En dos meses en el tropico he sufrido ya dos infecciones: una infeccion de orina y una infeccion en un ojo (un comun, pero no por ello no tremendamente doloroso, orzuelo).
Esto se ha traducido en dos visitas al hospital en un periodo no superior a los 15 dias. La primera vez que fui a visitar al doctor y me preguntaron mi religion a la hora de registrame no le di mayor importancia, aunque mi cabecita no alcanzaba a comprender que tiene que ver a quien rezo por las noches con una infeccion en las vias urinarias.
La respuesta llego mas tarde en casa, como siempre, donde casi todas mis dudas cultural-religioso-sociales se aclaran con Rany o con alguno de mis companyeros. Dependiendo de tu religion recibes un trato u otro, asi de simple, asi de crudo. La persona que, en esta ocasion, me resolvia la duda era una cristiana protestante. En su opinion, si eres cristiano o catolico recibes un peor trato en los hospitales.
El trato en mi caso fue exquisito tanto en la primera como en la segunda visita pero no puedo dejar de pensar si realmente algun doctor trataria de manera distinta a un paciente solo porque esa persona no comparta sus creencias. Luego se escandalizan cuando yo respondo que no creo en Dios que solo creo en la bondad o maldad de las personas...

*En Indonesia es obligatorio profesar alguna de las siguientes religiones: Islam, Cristianismo, Budismo, Hinduismo o Catolicismo. Ser judio esta prohibido.

In two months in the tropics I have already suffered two infections: one urine infection and one eye infection (a common but not for that reason less painful stye).
This has meant two visits to the hospital in less than 15 days. The first time I went to the doctor's and I was inquired about my religion I didn't pay too much attention although my little head couldn't reach to understand what worshipping a God has to do with a uninary tracks infection.
The answer arrived later, at home, as usual, where almost all my cultural-religious-social doubts are solved by Rany or any other of my flatmates. Depending on your religion you're treated one way or another, so easy, so blunt. The person who, in this occasion, was dissolving my doubt was a Protestant. According to her, if you are a Protestant or a Catholic you get a worse treat in hospitals.
In my case, the treat was exquisite both in my first and second visit but I can not stop thinking whether any doctor would treat a patient in a different way just because they don't share their believes. And they're shocked when I always reply to everybody that I don't believe in God!!! That I only believe in good and evil people!!!!
*In Indonesia people are obliged to profess a religion either Christianity, Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism or Hiduism. Being a Jew is forbidden.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

por navidad quiero / for christmas i want

Para Navidad quiero:
*10 cajas de tampones.
*3 paquetes de hilo dental.

....aqui es imposible encontrarlos.....

For Xmas I want:
*10 boxes of tampons.
*3 units of dental floss.
...here they're impossible to find...


los problemas del mundo

La semana pasada comenzamos un proyecto en clase. El proyecto consistia en un gran collage hecho con fotografias recortadas de revistas acerca de los problemas que los estudiantes consideraban tiene el mundo actual, el mundo del efecto invernadero, las guerras, la pobreza, las desigualdades..... Despues tenian que exponerlo en clase.
Guerra, incomprension, hambrunas.... No! Uno de los grandes problemas del mundo, a los ojos de estos quinceanyeros indonesios de buena familia (con mayoria de budistas entre ellos), es el SEXO. El sexo! Cual es el problema? No tenerlo? Tener demasiado?
La cosa no quedo ahi.... Tambien les pedi que plantearan soluciones a esos problemas.... Y su solucion es REZAR! La solucion al sexo es rezar.... me pregunto si en epocas en que no follo mucho, deberia arrodillarme, postrarme humildemente ante Ala, Vishnu, Buda o la Virgen Maria e increpar "Quiero un maromo ! Quiero un maromo! Apiadate de mi!"
Indonesia es una sociedad muy conservadora, al menos la Indonesia que yo estoy viviendo, con mayoria aplastante de musulmanes. A pesar de ello, no pude resistirlo y les explique lo que es un condon, que no necesariamente te tienes que casar para tener sexo, que por un beso no te contagias de SIDA.... y que no creo en Dios, ni en Ala,.....
Asi que cuando Sara, una amiga, me pregunta si quiero poner Sexo en Nueva York en clase para que los chavales lo vean ..... yo pienso que a lo mejor deberia.....

Monday, November 06, 2006

mr. wilson: I need your help

I was in a humble wooden hut. In the middle of the forest. The skimpy furniture consisted of a cotton hammock hanging from the ceiling.
I was there in the centre of the room staring out my window....to the orangutans. They were old and tired. They had eyes wide open. They looked sad.

la isla / the island

La Isla es voluptuosa, lasciva, sensual. Cuando caminas por entre sus faldas su denso aire lame, humedo, tu cuerpo, tu cara, tu alma...
La Isla te penetra por los poros a plena luz de mediodia tropical, a la vista de todos, descarada.
Hubo un tiempo en que la Isla hacia el amor a los orang-utan y los orang-utan amaban locamente su Isla. Ahora la magnifica dama no puede hacer otra cosa que recordar el suave tacto del pelo rojo de los hombres del bosque... pues estos desaparecieron. Los separaron.
* Segun expertos solo quedan 7.000 Orangutanes en Sumatera. Para mas info: www.sumatranorangutan.com
The Island is voluptuous, lascivious, sensual. When you walk her slopes her thick air laps, humid, your body, your face, your soul...
The Island soaks in through your pores in the tropical midday light, visible to everyone, cheeky.
There was a time when the Island used to make love to the orang-utans and the orang-utans loved madly their Island. Now the magnificent lady cannot do other thing than remembering the soft touch of the forest men's red fur... since they disappeared. They were split up.

*There are only 7.000 Sumatran Orangutans left. For further information: www.sumatranorangutan.com

Friday, November 03, 2006

madonna's latest purchase

I was reading at the diary of a mad kenyan woman......

This is a new form of tourism. Visit us! We have teeming wildlife, colourful natives and unspoiled vistas. Further, in your guest suites you will find our complimentary fruit basket, bottle of champagne, box of assorted chocolates, complimentary tickets allowing you to enter the lottery to buy the African country of your choice, your personal slave and of, course, an adoptable infant guaranteed to be cute, black, lovable and incapable of speech and thus at your complete mercy. Should you decide that you wish to adopt, please fill out the form conveniently placed in your bathroom next to our complimentary bottle of Chanel, and drop it off at the reception desk anytime before checkout. Should you be in any way dissatisfied with your infant, we would be happy to make an exchange and to customize an infant for you according to your specifications of age, sex, tint, height and hair growth. (Additional charges may apply if we have to wrest your desired baby away from its parents, but you have our quality guarantee that these charges will NEVER exceed fifty dollars U.S.)

la ley de la relatividad / the theory of relativity

Mi estatura siempre ha estado un poquito por encima de la media. Mis pechos son rotundamente pequenyos. Mi nariz, normal. Mi tez y mis ojos, oscuros.

Ahora resulta que....Soy extremadamente gigantesca, mis pechos son comparables en talla a los de Pamela Anderson, mi nariz es grande (tanto que algunos ninyos lloran al verme), mi piel es tan blanca como la nieve y mis ojos (por fin!) son verdes y claros. Y lo mejor...soy taaaaaannnnn, tan bella!

La talla de mis pantalones ha pasado de una normalita 40 (quiza 42 en temporadas de excesos culinarios) a una fatidica XXL, en mayusculas, y en la seccion masculina, porque claro las mujeres, en estos lares, no necesitan tamanya magnitud. Los sujetadores no me sirven y encontrar zapatos es convertirse por unas horas en la cenicienta.

Me pregunto si es a esto a lo que se referia A. Einstein con su ley de la relatividad.
My height has always been a little bit above the average. My breasts are definitely small. My nose, average size. My skin and eyes, dark.
Now suddenly....I am massive, the size of my breasts is comparable to that of Pamela Anderson, my nose is huge so huge some kids cry when they see me, my skin is as white as snow and my eyes (at last!) are light green. And check this out... I am sooooo beautiful!
My trousers' size has gone from an average 40 (42 in times of culinary excesses) to a XXL, in capital letters, and at the mens' section, because, obviously, women, in this neck of the woods, do not need such a massive size. Bras do not fit me anymore and finding shoes is becoming Cinderella for some hours.
I wonder if it's this what A. Einstein meant by The Theory of Relativity.

Thursday, November 02, 2006



1) Muslim men fancy cutting off geckoes' tails on Friday nights because they believe it brings good luck in.
2) The words for Stop! and Left are the same in Indonesian: Kiri. (Because you stop on the left hand side of the road!)
3) When you shake hands, you use your right hand and then you touch your heart.
4) Muslim students shake their teachers' hand and bring it up to touch their own foreheads as a sign of respect.
5) Left hand is only used for Private Affairs.

idul fitri celebration

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

all hallows eve

we have celebrated all hallows eve today at the school....neither of us is religious despite that we have had a great time decorating the classrooms with the kids and playing Trick or Treat.

cajon de sastre (4)

el ultimo cajon de sastre del mes.....

"No contamos las cosas como son, contamos las cosas como somos" Joe, un amigo de un amigo....
"We don't tell things as they are, we tell things as we are" Joe, a friend of a friend of mine...

"Women who ride bicycles love to play games" Chris, a writer who happens to be also my friend.

"Que bien se esta cuando se esta bien" Dani, un amigo que esta empenyado en que publique frases guarras....I'm sorry Dani....

"El corazon es lo unico para lo que no sirve la experiencia" Dani, otra vez.

"El hecho de que una opinion la comparta mucha gente no es prueba concluyente de que no sea completamente absurda". B. Russell.


My house is big and sunny and it's dwelled by an elf who is always laughing and calling out "Miiiiisssss!", she swears respectfully.

Rany is our housekeeper a luxury I had never enjoyed before that makes my indonesian life much easier. She's not taller than one metre and a half, her hair, I reckon, is long and black and her voice is high, so high sometimes it is strident.

Rany has a personal goal: she wants me to speak bahasa indonesia. Goal which I thank for every day when I go shopping or I order my food at a restaurant and I am able to communicate with my skimpy vocabulary and a big, big smile.

When I get home I can hear her voice calling out at me from somewhere "miiiiiissssss", stretching the "i" smoothly. I don't know how she can recognize me , how she can perceive me before I even enter the room... She appears smiling for a little chat, just to check up on my day or my sleep. One could think that communication between us is not fluent, which is true oftentimes, but from time to time we understand each other without Mike's help, my personal interpreter, and then both of us are really pleased. It's so easy....

Rany swears she loves talking to me about her problems because, although I can't understand all the words, she feels relieved ever after.