Greasy Palms

It was Indonesian Independence Day this past weekend.  To honor the day, the embassy relaxed and had “FUN DAY!”  An afternoon of games and snacks and music.  By games, I mean gunny sack races and tug of war and marble’n’spoon.  

There was also a game where a large cracker the consistency of styrofoam is tied to a ribbon and suspend.  Contestants then have to eat the cracker without using their hands.  In the afternoon breeze, it looked like quite the challenge.  

Secret Asian Man was secretly signed up by members of my staff for the gunny sack race and the marble and spoon race.  In marble and spoon, you hold a spoon in your mouth and carry a marble to the finish line. I ran two heats and took third place in the finals.  

All fun and games, right?  No. Not only were there photos, there is an award ceremony with prizes to be awarded next month.  

I did not hang around to try for a Grammy at Karaoke.

Out in the city there are lots of parades and speeches and community games including one where they put up tall poles, festively painted.  They put prizes on top and then grease the poles and then clots of people scramble up them at their own peril to try and claim the prize.

It was the first day of school and it was a little rougher than expected.  It is tough at this point in a high school career to jump into the adolescent fray. It is easy to feel left out when you’re thrust in a school that is 4 times the size of your previous school.  So many more people and so many more social obstacles, not know which group is which and whether you’ll fit in there or not.

The second day of school went a little better, I’m told.  Classes seem manageable and soccer practices are going okay.  Z has found a couple of kids who are new and all have the same common fears, so there is that in common.  Sort of sounds like a movie trailer.  “Theirs was a friendship born out of fear….”

Heard an interesting theory about the traffic and congestion today.  Seems that the big city has an astoundingly low amount of green space.  4 percent.  It used to be closer to 8 percent which still isn’t that much, though I don’t know how that compares to other cities.  

It seems in the last 15-20 years there has been an explosion of shopping malls.  Developers come in and want to put up a mall. Permits move quicker with greased hands and there are also fewer requests to offset development with green space or put up traffic modifications and so now there is a city where the only place to go and walk is the shopping mall.

On a smaller scale, I paid the last bill to get our dog shipped.  $700 bucks including $100 for a 14 day quarantine.  The quarantine is to prevent the importation of rabies into the country.  Into a country where rabies is rampant in some areas.  

I paid the bill and had heard about a home quarantine possibility.  I asked about this.  I was informed that it would cost another $400 for the get of jail fee.  This would be cash and would not be receipted and would not include a refund for my unused boarding fee.

And, this is the conflict with the greasy palms. Your dog is has already endured a strange kennel and the tarmac and the plane ride and jet lag. Do you really want to keep them in a kennel for 14 more days?  No.  So, you pay your fee and you perpetuate the cycle. Everyone expects something. The only one that feels good is the dog. Well, maybe not, but it does feel dirty.

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