Marching to an Indonesian drumbeat

My education-related world record attempt in Indonesia is progressing. But the road to success here isn’t smooth by any stretch of the imagination. In Indonesia, I’ve learned, I can’t march to my own efficient drumbeat: that simply does not work.

I’ve had to try my level best to adjust to externalities, some of which I’d never have been able to imagine before spending quite some time in this country. Here are just a few of the dozens of situations impacting my project.

We contracted a tradesman to build a barrier so flood waters won’t damage the project room / garage again. He was clearly told cars and motorcycles need to be able to get over the barrier, so it’d have to be in the form of a speed hump. He confirmed that he understood. The result? Well, I could hardly believe my eyes when I came out and saw a vertical brick-and-cement wall, 20cm high, from one side of the garage entrance to the other.

To supplement my severely narrow diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, I eat raw oats. I’m protecting my health because most foods here are saturated in salt, sugar and oil and much of it is doused in agrochemicals applied by untrained and illiterate villagers. My regular supplier had run out of stock once again, so I tried other shops. The first salesperson I asked for raw oats handed me a bag of 1,000 plastic storage bags. The next shop told me the more I buy, the higher the unit price! And the third place tried to sell me a bag of oats taped to a porcelain bowl and a colourful box advertising items I never asked for.

I finally found a young man – who didn’t complete more than a smattering of schooling – who agreed to clean my work area 3 times a week for a little pay. But he had trouble remembering which days to come to work. Sometimes he wouldn’t arrive for up to 10 days and I’d have to clean, being unsure of when he’d walk in. He’d give me no notice even though I gave him plenty of mobile phone credit for exactly that purpose.

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