It has lately occurred to me to ask, where does our trash go?  The streets of
Jakarta play host to varied forms of traffic – the much-maligned automobile
traffic, the burgeoning motorcycle traffic, and considerable foot traffic.  
The latter is made all the more conspicuous by the general lack of
sidewalks.  Treading, obliviously it often seems, along the edges of the
alleys and streets are schoolchildren, peddlers, people going to and from
offices and shops, laborers, deliverymen, and the pushers and pullers of
trash carts.
If you ever went to the Monterrey House chain of plastix-Mex restaurants,
you may recall their emblematic cart, balanced on two wheels, propping up
a slumping and somnolent figure in an out-sized sombrero.  Forgetting for
a moment the brown-sugar, BHA-, and BHT-laden lump treats that lured
us to the cashier’s counter after dinners there, I draw your attention to the
cart itself, so you might conjure a picture of the kind of conveyance pulled
around the streets here.  Men and sometimes women trudge about with
their arms draped over the long poles, offering their cartage services.  
Some of these sport a sign on the back stating, “
beli barang bekas” – roughly,
“I’ll buy your used stuff.”
Many of them also will collect trash from the peculiar bins in front of
houses, rummage through it, salvage what they can, and burn the rest,
often simply on the roadside.  Hence the question I raised (some 225 words
ago): where does our trash go?  I’ve been told that our trash-collection
service has been paid for by the company, but I’ve begun to wonder about
the nature and the contractual obligations of the arrangement.  I feel
certain that I’ve driven through some choking plume from the burning of
my own household waste, complaining bitterly about the practice all the
while.  I do hope to actually pursue this issue, and I’ll provide an update
when I learn more.

We generated considerably more trash than usual beginning about ten days
ago.  Our ship came in on or about the 14th of August and our crates from
Texas were delivered to the house on the 26th.  I had spoken with other
families who described receiving several boxes marked with “Customs
Inspection” stamps.  Some of their boxes were levied an unofficial import
tax.  However, not a single one of our boxes bore any evidence of being
pilfered or even opened.
Alissa had hoped to take off a bit early from work when the crates arrived,
but she ended up having a series of extended meetings that day, and then
we were expected at the Australia-New Zealand Association Masked Ball
that evening.  She didn’t even come home to see the state of the house
because we had booked a room at the ball venue – the new Jakarta Ritz-
Carlton.  We’ve been told this ball was the beginning of the Jakarta social
season (the very idea of being a part of anybody’s social season falling
somewhere between intriguing and repugnant).  All pressed, feathered,
and sparkly, we made our debut.
We traded our dress blacks for dungarees over the next days as we
unpacked boxes and unwrapped the very few items of furniture we
brought with us.  Opening the large “dish pack” boxes often proved the
most entertaining, since each item of glassware from our Texas kitchen was
quintuple-wrapped in paper, generating a waist-high mountain of
packaging for 24 glasses and a few Pyrex baking dishes.  Every now and
then these paper mounds would avalanche, and we’d realize one of the cats
had gophered in and was trying to tunnel over to a neighboring knoll.

Our personal effects had been delivered in four large crates.  These, we
soon found out, were rather coveted by our house staff.  One of our
drivers saw how the materials from the crates were perfectly suited for
repairing his leaky porch at home.  Koko the gardener, house- and pool-
man just brought his wife and two very young children from outside
Jakarta and he used the wood from one of the crates to build a wall in the
new home they share nearby with Nani, our cook and housemaid.  They
divvied things up themselves and worked out when the crates would be
knocked apart for easy transport on one of the small trucks that are hired
out for such purposes.  (There are certain streets where a queue of maybe
20 of these small trucks are parked, waiting for customers to engage
them.)  At one point Daniel remarked on their need to have things ready
before the truck arrived because, as he said it, hiring the truck is “very
expensive – maybe 50,000 rupiah" (about $5).  Based on this remark (and
owing to my striking ignorance about most economic matters), I’ve
concluded that a multiplier of at least ten might be applied when
considering the financial matters of the staff.  That is, a ten-dollar expense
for them is on the order of a hundred-dollar or more expense for me.  
There are many things I would never pay $20 for, but I don’t think too
hard about handing over $2 for something that won’t last.  For these folks,
25 cents might be the threshold for discretionary spending.  It’s a topic that’
s worthy of further inquiry.  I suppose I could gather local statistics on the
so-called Big Mac index, where relative economies around the world are
deduced in part by the local price of a certain McSandwich (but I refuse to
do the on-site research).

In other news, Arianna has been selected and will participate in the Middle
School’s International Travel Club (see Javalogue 9, references to Hong
Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and several place names that employ the letters
“x,” “j,” and “g”).  I worked out that, once she arrives in China, she will
have visited 12 countries before she turns 12 years old.  After I turned two
it took me nearly 19 more years to recapture a 1:1 years-to-countries ratio.  
Arianna will travel over Fall Break, in late October.

This morning, in the midst of my
bahasa Indonesia language lesson at the
house, I asked the driver to take the gardener to the English lessons we’ve
arranged for him at a nearby community center.  They set out at about 9:15
for the 9:30 class.  The high-school nurse phoned just before 10am and
suggested that I pick up Annaliese and take her to the SOS Clinic.
Annaliese was experiencing some shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea,
and vomiting.  I called to get the car back and learned that they were only
about 1 kilometer away.  The traffic was so heavy they had never gotten
anywhere near the community center.  Although there are definitely some
very unpleasant peak travel times, this was quite unprecedented in my
experience.  It turns out the roads department has begun to re-build a
bridge that happens to be near an already notorious bottleneck.  This could
be the first day of two (to five) months of delays, missed appointments,
and standstills.
Annaliese, by the way, is just fine.  Maybe just a recurrence of the acid-
reflux problem she had a year or more ago.  She compared her treatment
by nurses in Houston schools – student comes in, student states complaint,
student is told (regardless of complaint) to lie on frayed and spatter-
spotted couch while nurse calls to ask a parent to come get the kid – with
the treatment she received at her new school – student led to one of the
curtained examining bays and, after vital signs are taken, the nurse
provides an oxygen mask to counter student’s shortness of breath, then,
well… the nurse calls to ask a parent to come get the kid.  (But they were
contemplating the private ambulance ride to our chosen medical clinic.)
Cart Puller
Granted, this photo provides
almost no idea of what these
things actually look like, but it's
the only thing I have to illustrate
the text.
Matter Piles
It may look a mess to you, but
in our eyes it's the next step of
a home taking shape.
Debutante A
Debutante C
A Surprise in the Bottom of
Every Box!
Paper Spelunker
Yah, yah... I know no one calls
them 'spelunkers' anymore.  
They're 'cavers.'  But philatelists
are still philatelists, and that's
important to me.
A Celebratory Meal
Cooked using our own wok and
served with our own utensils
onto our own dishes.
Certain Members of The Cast (below)
Annaliese and her friend Gretchen reacting differently; Arianna luxuriating on a new-found
but familiar bedspread; Maricela and Pascuale Incogniti at an undisclosed location
Javalogue 11: 25 August - 5 September 2005
the Javalogue