Monday 13 February 2012: Mr.Tata
I rode up the hill in search of some fishing action, but could not see anything from the roadside, so I found a shady spot and waited for a fisherman to ride by. A chap from the house I was parked in front, came out to see if I needed any help. I explained what I was looking for and with a combination of our rudimentary mastery of each others language, he was able to help me. Apparently there were lots of ponds, but I had to get off the main road to find them. So I thanked him and set off down a side road.
I came across a large house with a sizeable concrete pond with a bunch of kids fishing. Introducing Mr.Tata, who was watching over the children. I got his attention and he waved me in. I asked permission to photograph the proceedings and he was comfortable with that. I decided to snap him first, as he gave me permission to return tomorrow.
The fishing looked like great fun and the kids were really keen and quite skilled, despite the lack of equipment. I will definitely be returning to grab some more shots and try my arm at catching my supper too.
The Bandung story - part 3
Next morning I hit the breakfast restaurant at 7am. There was the usual cereals for western customers, boiled rice, cold fried eggs, curious red colored sausages, leathery bacon, rice porridge with various dishes of nuts and other stuff, various fruits, melon, papaya, bananas, several juices and awful coffee.
I quickly learned that there are implications of living in an Islamic country. Firstly there is no bacon, pork or anything remotely associated with pig. The sausages were chicken and quite inedible, as was the beef bacon, which was like chewing shoe laces. It just seemed so silly presenting all this pretend pork food and pretend beer, why bother, there was more than enough on offer that was interesting and very palatable.
The agent and his driver picked me up at 8am and took me into the offices at IPTN, which ironically, was the aircraft factory that I had failed to land a job on several previous occasions and here I was, designing a car in the same offices.
The Indonesian president had decided that Indonesia should have it's own car, designed and built by Indonesians. Quite amusing really, as the design team were British, Dutch, German, French and American, twelve guys in all. Usually a car design team comprises of 150 design engineers. We were provided with about fifty local employees to work with, but all they seemed to want to do was play loud radios, shout conversations across the office and sleep. Normally a design office is like a library, so this was quite unnerving, but I guess if the guy working next to me was earning fifty times more than me, I'd be sleeping too.
Quite often visitors, government officials and dignitaries would arrive to tour the offices. Before they arrived, we would be expelled from the premises and instructed to take an early lunch. The management wanted to show that this was an Indonesian project, with no western influences, but they knew in reality that that was not possible, even large western motor companies hire contractors to design the cars. Every job I go to, I meet guys that I have worked with before.
That evening we all went to Braga street and gathered at the North Sea bar, were those that had arrived earlier had decided to make 'the local'. What an experience, unlike any bar I had ever been to in my life. It was Dutch owned and themed with Dutch colonialism. Not a huge establishment and the central circular bar was crowded three deep all night. A pool table at the far end, six inch nails being hammered into a large log end by a circle of people in the corner and pretty young girls everywhere I looked.
All the guys from the office settled around a few tables halfway down the bar and were soon joined by a bevy of local beauties. As for me, I'm a pool freak, not even scantily dressed talent could keep me away from the green baize for more than a few minutes. The 8-ball competition was fierce but I was more than upto the challenge and was very soon the player to beat.
I was soon friends with the bouncers, always my number one objective in a new bar, the owners next and the bar staff of course. Years of cruising bars has taught me this. What a splendid night and not bad for mid week. At the weekend they somehow managed to cram twice as many people in, not possible I would have thought, but it happened.
Over the years, with the aircraft contract finishing and several other western employers closing, jalan Braga and the North Sea bar are now but a shadow of their former glory, but still a pleasant night out occasionally and still frequented by friends that I made all those years ago. It seems that I am not the only one hooked by Bandung's charms.
To be continued.