“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss
I would like to take you back in time; probably before some of you reading this were even born. But if you indulge me, I will tell you what set me off on this path of world exploration. I’m sure my reasons back then are probably not that different from your reasons today.
It’s 1985, keep that in mind. I have a job at the investment firm “Broadbank”, where I worked as a loan officer. I had a cubicle but by today’s standards it was an office. Plush ruby-red carpet, dark wood furniture, five-line intercom, and a lion pawed coat rack standing guard in the corner; right next to the entrance.
Along the right side, from floor to ceiling, was a bank of windows that looked out onto the historic Strand Arcade. The arcade acted as a pedestrian artery through which pedestrians could walk from Queen to Elliott Streets. It was lined on both sides by shops lending themselves to nostalgia; in appearance only.
My desk was a place for writing then organizing paperwork and forms. It was a place where clients would sign documents and I would double-check the amortization results of my calculator. Continue reading Broadening Horizons
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! Dr. Seuss
To ponder why we travel and from where the passion to explore is derived is a complex question; often not determined by one quick answer. For me, and I would guess for many, it would be easy to give all credit in the direction of one or both parents however just as often influences can be found in a multitude of experiences occupied by our youth.
In primary school I had a teacher, Mr. Tooze, who introduced me to the life and culture of Hong Kong’s Junk Boat citizenry. For a couple of weeks Mr. Tooze worked our imaginations into a frenzy as we drew pictures, crafted stories, encouraged our study, and read about life in the harbor of Hong Kong.
I was mesmerized. I still have vivid memories of my romantic and innocent imagination as I envisioned my own life on board a junk boat. Never setting foot on land and living in tune with the ebb and flow of the ocean tide. Walking with buoyancy to allow my knees the ability to bend and flex along with the rolling of the sea. Continue reading July 1969
A historical perspective of life in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia.
Immediately following WWII the Dutch East Indies found itself embroiled in yet another conflict. This time the fight was with Indonesian nationalists striving to attain the lofty ideals required to form a republic rather than the exploitation of commodities that had catapulted the islands into violent struggles in the past.
They were demanding from the Dutch colonialists the right to pursue independence on their own terms and were fully prepared to take up arms, dictate the timeline, and sacrifice life in order to achieve their goal.
Considerably weakened by years of fighting the Japanese, the Dutch army was now in no condition to take on a new adversary. Over the next 7 months the island of Java would bear witness to a mish-mash of nations either fighting, protecting, or attempting to remain neutral. Continue reading Departing the Indies
A historical perspective of wartime life in colonial Indonesia based on family accounts.
Batavia had once been known throughout the world as the Amsterdam of the East. With its city-wide labyrinth of canals, drawbridges, cobblestone streets, trams, harbors, and European cultural awareness Batavia was now adding to this romantic exotic moniker and focused on becoming a world class city; one that could attract people by boasting opportunity, success, and lifestyle.
The ever increasing population required infra-structure. Civil servants from the Netherlands were offered incentives to pack-up and move to the Indies.
The promise of a life in the tropics was hard to resist. With unrest in Europe becoming more and more likely, a chance to escape and start again was appealing. People flooded into the Indies throughout the 1930’s. Continue reading Surviving in the Indies
A historical perspective on life in colonial Indonesia based on family accounts.
As the Dutch and European populations in Java grew it became clear that certain fundamental aspects needed for a good quality life were absent. Boredom, especially for women, contributed to many ultimatums and early return voyages to the Netherlands.
It was simply not enough to live in paradise, as the shipping and immigration posters had advertised it, but rather a sense of purpose, culture, and sophistication also had to be developed in order to maintain this population that had traveled half way around the world in search of a better life.
Batavia (modern day Jakarta) and Bandung especially, began a campaign to deliver European culture to the Indies. Society clubs, concert halls and theaters were built in haste. Performers and entertainers in music, dance, stage, and opera, were brought to the Indies to provide an opportunity for certain residents to elevate their social standing; for most though it was a way to enrich the lives of those who now made the Indies their home…a morale boost for its citizenry. Continue reading Living in the Indies