I travel frequently in the course of my work, and when I have weekends in Jakarta, I never know what surprise is awaiting me. Saturday was no exception. A football competition started last Saturday where all the schools mix people up into teams, with exotic names from Portugal to Brazil, and Argentina to Cameroons. Naila (my wife)and I took our boy Mahdi out to play in the Under 7 competition, where he was in the Portugal team. During the week Naila had been coerced into being assistant coach/organiser of the team. We arrived there with 9 eager young boys, a lot of enthusiastic parents, the opposition team called Brazil, and no coach for Portugal. Parents of the boys (and one girl) started hunting for a coach. They asked me and I said I know very little about football, but I did coach rugby in New Zealand. That was a mistake. It was five minutes to the kick off and I found myself coach of Portugal.
The Portugal under 7 team. Arnold Co-coach left, Naila (my wife) right in white, and Mahdi our boy on the far right, front row. Photo Bob McKerrow
There I was, coach of Portugal. When in doubt, delegate is my maxim. I saw a parent, Arnold van der Zanden from the Netherlands Embassy and asked him, " Do you know anything about football ? " He replied, " a little." "OK you can be co-coach" and we spent a few minutes giving the players a position each, a simple game plan.
So last weekend was football, dinner on Friday night with Zhaflan from Mongolia her husband, Tom, Madina from Kazakhstan and husband Tino, formerly East Germany. Tom is a banker by profession and is an adviser to a number of Indonesian banks. So we had a wonderful evening eating Mongolian food, fine Californian red wine, while listening to the women speaking Russian, Tom and I English. Tom, I and Zhaflan have a deep interest in Mongolian history so it was good to share ideas and experiences. Noting that over 20% of the population in Mongolia are Kazakhs, and Kazakh is a national language, it was fascinating to have people from Kazakhstan and Mongolia round the same table.
On Saturday night I sat on the balcony and watched the sun setting over Jakarta, and the night creeping silently over the city. (see photo below)
Then about 7.30 pm, I went off to the Everest Bar with Bill and Steve, my rugby mates, to watch South Africa thrash Australia in the Tri Nations rugby match.
The urinal in the Everest bar with a superb photo of Mount Everest, placed at eye level, so when you are relieving yourself, you see in one glance, all the peaks from Pumori, Everest. Lhotse to Nuptse
The Everest Bar is my favourite as the owner, Anish Shakya from Nepal, has tastefully decorated the bar in a Nepali style, and it has a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. There are at least four large screen TVs so you cam watch sport from all over the world, mainly coming from three exclusive South African sports channels. In addition, Anish's personality attracts people from all over Asia, in fact, from all over the world and there is always someone interesting to have a yarn with.
In the Everest Bar with owner Anish Shakya, a Nepali who has lived 11 years in Jakarta. Yours truly in the Otago jersey is on the right.
Sunday, we had a delightful time swimming and playing in a local pool, and later helping the boys with their homework, and time eating and talking together. Usually, late afternoon the boys go out to hone their football skills.
Brothers in arma. Mahdi and Ablai after football practice
Normally I grab a few hours early on Saturday and Sunday morning to compile my weekly report for my headquarters which I send off on Sunday night. I also am fanatical about my Air New Zealand and Heartland rugby picks, and follow the results with great interest.
Late Sunday afternoon I spent a little time helping my friend Harald edit a profile for his website. He has an interesting website called Enriching-Life.com The object is to help its members to build happier and longer lives by having access to the best and most relevant stories available on the internet. Profits generated by Enriching-Life are donated for food, health and education of children in developing countries all over the world.
So it's dinner on Sunday night, prepare the boys for school the next day, a little writing or blogging, the BBC news, then the weekend is over, and I have become a football coach. There is a surprise every weekend in Jakarta.
Monday I go to work and in the poem below, I describe what I see.
A clanging chain on a rusting cycle
Glides past sludge in open drains,
Skyscrapers and Dunkin’ Donuts
A handcart rots outside a graveyard
With four painted headstones
Where souls sleep restlessly
The Muzzien calls for prayer
Stacked wood feeds furnaces
In a Tofu factory
A leper’s hand reaches with downcast eyes
Veiled school girls walk with friends in tight jeans
Motor bikes dart and pour
Like rats in a frenzy through every gap
Herbal healers hawk in narrow alleys
Traffic jams at egg timer intersections
Cuploa’s and minarets punctuate
Hoardings and concrete towers