Saturday, March 27, 2010

40¢ - addendum

I hope you already read the blog below. If you didn't this might not make any sense.

This afternoon at the end of my in-between-tropical-rainstorms walk, I decided I wanted some more of that gorgeous lemonade. I went in an ordered, and I kid you not, the girl - whose name I now know is Tonya - was in the bath again. She again peeked her head out of the door, at about knee-level, and had a whole chat with me about being friends, being beautiful, about her name... And I learned she was bathing, not using the toilet. But what are the odds, it's like she lives in there or something.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The best way to spend 40¢

I know that Western Health and Safety regulations do not apply in Indonesia. It goes without saying.

Even so, I was a bit surprised when she peeked out from the bathroom to greet me from across the kitchen. Her head was at about knee height, so I assume she was squatting, probably on the toilet, when she opened the door just a crack to greet me and tell me I am beautiful. I think that was her new vocabulary word in English.

I forget her name, but her partner/sister's name is Este. Este saw me walking up to the juice stand and came out to greet me. She got right to the point: "Bunkus?" Takeaway? She didn't even bother to ask what I wanted; I always order the same thing. I nodded and smiled, then followed her in to the cabana with the juice kitchen in the back. I stook at the entrance to the kitchen and watched as she squeezed the lemons into a plastic cup.

It was at this point that the other girl opened the bathroom door just a crack. She heard me coming in and didn't want to miss my visit. They both clearly love it when I visit. Besides the fact that I pay a full 40¢ for my juice, I suppose they just like claiming acquaintance with a foreigner.

I tell you, if you ever have 40¢ and aren't sure what to do with it, go to the Lambok Jaya juice cabana next to the restaurant and order a lemon juice. It's divine.

Of course, you'll need to get yourself to Lubuk Basung first.

And of course, you'll need to be totally fine with a friendly and cheerful girl on the toilet in the kitchen with your juice. I am - anything for that juice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

already reminiscing about Indonesia

I'm sure this is only an initial list, but as I'm three weeks away from finishing my time in Indonesia, I was pondering today the things that I will miss - and not miss- about this place.

(some of the links are to past blogs, but other links are actually somewhat interesting.)

Things I will miss about Indonesia
Warm hard tropical rainstorms
Martabak
Lovely people
Sunsets
Living 20 metres from my office
The architecture of the houses (ok, the link is a very poor example but I wanted to show off the transitional shelters we're building in our project. The houses that survived the earthquake are lovely, take my word for it.)
Very, very tall trees
Oreos
The spirit of enthusiasm among my colleagues
The reggae band and karaoke nights
The amazing lemon juice from down the road and the two girls who make it.

Things I won't miss about Indonesia
Salted Fish
"Hello Mister"
Cold showers
The smell of salted fish
Rats in my ceiling
The supermarkets

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a plug for a great cause

I think this organisation has potential! It was started by a good friend of mine and I love their vision. I think you should check them out, and if you've been thinking you'd like to get involved in supporting good causes, they'd be an excellent way to do it.

www.docAfrika.org

From what I understand, they want to be able to personally vouch for everyone they support. And the best thing is that they are absolutely supporting indigenous causes!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

mommy internet

I've started to think the Internet is not for people like me. Maybe I should leave.

Before I start to think this out in words, let me preface by saying the following:
- I LOVE baby photos
- I LOVE playing with babies
- I LOVE my friends with babies, and I LOVE their babies
- I think babies are very, very cute. I'm in the camp of people who do not believe there is such a thing as an ugly baby. Nope, they're all cute.
- I am very happy for my friends who have babies, especially those for whom I know just how long they dreamed of motherhood
- I think cute stories about cute children are funny

However, the last few days, when I've opened my facebook homepage, I have been presented with a series of status updates about children and babies. Cute things the kids did, a few photos of very cute kids, and some updates on pregnancies. Each one of those updates had a minimum of five comments, often a dozen or more - they were popular! (I don't like playing the comparison game, but my status updates rarely get five or more comments.)

Furthermore, I noticed that most of the comments were by other mommies - the experience presented in the update connected with the commenter somehow, and therefore: a comment! This is natural and I'm glad that mothers all around the world are able to connect on the basis of a shared reality. (And I can't really be surprised that they didn't have a personal connection with my recent experiences of earthquakes or Indonesian villages, and I'm happy for them that they didn't have a personal connection with the rats living in my ceiling or the flying cockroach in my bathroom.)

It's not just facebook, it's also the blogs I follow. The more active ones are about one of two things: writing and mothering. The writing blogs are authored by a combination of two demographics: full-time writers whose job is to write, and professionals in the publishing industry. Those publishing industry guys have roaringly popular blogs, with mad commenting activity, and I figure that's because it's a writing community - people love to write so blogging is a natural fit, and the ones who are full-time writers have the professional obligation to devote themselves to these blogs. The mothering blogs have very cute photos and even cuter stories. They're great, but they speak of a reality as exotic to me as I'm sure my reality is to them.

And this did make sense to me. My friends who are mommies often seem to find that baby responsibilities and the Internet make a fine combination. For example, I have thoroughly enjoyed skyping with my sister-in-law and reading her blog ever since my nephew was born, which I could rarely do when she was a working non-mother woman. In comparison, I get on facebook, peruse the updates, give my own update, then get back to a life which leaves me struggling to find the time to write these blog entries.

But then I wonder, if most of the people I know who are interested in blogs and facebook are mothers (or fathers), and the main social networking happening in social network sites are based on the reality of parenthood. Then maybe I don't belong on the Internet anymore.

Am I thinking about this all wrong?

p.s. somehow, so far, this phenomenon is not at all true of the twitter feeds I follow. I wonder what makes twitter different.

Friday, March 19, 2010

2 minutes and 36 seconds very well spent

This is the kind of video that got me guffawing laughter out loud even though I'm all by myself in a room late at night. I suppose it's a bit serious of a situation, as it's a hotly contested border and all, but then again maybe that's what made this so utterly amusing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ0ue-XGl9c
Nothing against the Pakistanis, I do love the Pakistanis, but I think the Indians do better splits.

interesting stats

You can take Kati out of Sociology of Religion but you can't take Sociology of religion out of Kati.

John Allen, author of The Future Church, gave a lecture on trends affecting the Catholic church at our organisation's headquarters last week. I missed the lecture, even though there was a remote-access option, but today took a look at his powerpoint. He quotes some utterly fascinating statistics!

This one really has me thinking:
Odds that two religious parents will raise a religious child: 47%
Odds that one religious parent will raise a religious child: 24%
Odds that two secular parents will raise a religious child: 3%
Conclusion: “In Britain, institutional religion now has a half-life of one generation.”
Source: David Voas, University of Manchester


But here are some other interesting tidbits:
  • The world's largest Catholic nation... Brazil (!!)
  • The least religious age bracket in America (defined as church-going)... 25-34
  • GDP of the poorest 42 nations is less than net worth of 3 richest people
  • The world's second largest producer of petrol... Russia
  • Even better, the world's third largest producer of petrol... Norway (seriously, Norway?!)
  • The location of Europe's largest mosque... Rome! (This was built with Saudi money and the Pope's blessing, which is an interesting contrast with the prohibition against practising Catholicism in Saudi. However, Qatar apparently has a huge and beautiful Catholic church, so other Gulf neighbours have a different view of things.)

And a nice quote from Pope Benedict XVI:
“Interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the term is not possible without putting one’s own faith into parentheses, while intercultural dialogue that develops the cultural consequences of the religious option … is both possible and urgent.”from the preface to Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians by Marcello Pera, November 2008

Thursday, March 18, 2010

there's always hope

The other night I was watching The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It's a breathtaking film, with heart-wrenching music, soul-soaring scenery, and the most against-all-odds battle ever fought. In the battle at Helm's Deep, an army of 300 that includes all boys old enough to hold a sword, defends their fortress, their country and the race of men, against an army of 10,000 ugly dudes with boundless energy (orcs). (Then again, everyone in LOTR has boundless energy, it seems - the film starts with the three heroes running non-stop for 4 days. Non-stop includes no eating and no sleeping.)

So, this is the context in which this scene took place:
there's always hope
I had to stop watching for a moment to think about that.

There was absolutely no hope, but Aragorn simply stated the basic truth that there is always hope. We don't know what that hope may be, and maybe we don't always have to know, but there's always hope.

I thought of times in my life when everything has gone wrong. When it felt like everything I touched turned into soot. When I began to wonder if I should just hide inside and never go out again because the moment I started interacting with people or even just turned on the car, some small volcano seemed to erupt. I could think of no good reason to keep actively living, except that it was just what I had to do. Odds were things would continue to go wrong, but they might go right.

And, as Aragorn reminds us all, there is always hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I love when the tourist becomes the attraction!

What do three expats staying in a same village 2 hours from the nearest city do on the eve of a national holiday? Go out to dinner, preferably at an establishment that serves beer, of course! If, that is, we are lucky enough to find a decent restaurant open and serving food.

Yesterday, we drove around for half an hour - considering the size of our town, we really couldn't have driven much more than half an hour - before ending up at one of our favourites, a little noodle joint up on a hill overlooking the market. They fry up a mean noodle dish with dried onions, bacon bits, crisps, tomatoes, cucumbers, a fried egg, and lots of chili. They also serve beer for the beer drinkers and make juice for the juice drinkers.

This restaurant has a great little patch of real estate and its walls are almost entirely made of wooden trellises. Its inside walls are decorated with stickers from a schoolgirl's colouring books, its counters are decorated with careful lines of bottles representing the various beverages they serve, and its television blasts out techno karaoke music. It's a great place, so you'd think it would have a buzzing business! Maybe the locals don't like it as much as us expats do, though, because it has been empty every time I've entered.

True to form, when we walked in yesterday, it was deserted except for a teenage girl and a teenage boy: brother and sister and children of the owner, I can only assume. They were glued to the karaoke TV, and none to happy to see three foreigners come in. They stood up and stared at us as we chose a table. We tried to say hi, and they stared back in reply.

We sat down, and they kept staring. Then the girl got on her phone and made the call. She hung up and they kept staring as we opened a bag of crisps off the table and started munching. Eventually the kids brought us some water, and ten minutes later the entire family walked in.

Mom, Dad, and three little siblings. Mom got to work in the kitchen, Dad got to work waiting on us, the two teenagers got back to their TV, and the three youngsters took over the staring role. One gets the impression we were their holiday event. I love it when I get to be the tourist attraction in their own home!

Monday, March 15, 2010

career on a cart

Sate... the Indonesian protein specialty. Tiny little kebabs of meat or chicken, depending on the specialty of the vendor, barbequed on coals and drenched in sauce, usually peanut sauce. Since West Sumatra food is characterised by the use of coconut milk in most dishes, naturally the characteristic local sate also comes with coconut milk.

I like sate well enough, but my colleagues love it. They love it enough to walk for minutes or hours, however long it takes, to eat some local sate. So on our recent training weekend in the mountain city of Bukittingi, one evening we went out sate hunting. Ironically, we walked all around the city only to discover that the sate guy everyone was talking about was based barely one hundred metres from our hotel.

This guy was the picture of ingenuity. His sate stand was a typical local street food stand: two wheels at one end, a handle for pushing the cart at the other end, constructed out of wood up to waist level, then plexiglass windows from there to the wood or tin roof just above the head. On top of the roof I saw a rolled-up orange tarp, apparently used to cover the stand when he closed up shop. Next to the stand was a wooden bench which looked like it would fit nicely on the roof or under the tarp when the customers did not require it.

My friends ordered their sate and I watched as he re-heated the already-cooked beef skewers on a tiny charcoal barbeque that he had installed on one side of the stand. The area for heating the sate was limited because also sitting on the charcoal, at a slant so as not to occupy too much space, was an enormous pot of the peanut-coconut sauce.

The vendor reached to the back left corner of the stall and took out two pieces of banana leaf and one piece of newspaper paper. He laid them out on the counter space in between that pile and the bbq, then folded them up to make a pouch. He took the heated meat off the coals and put them into the banana leaf pouch. Then he took a ladle that was hanging off to the right and dipped it in the pot to pour sauce over the skewers.

As he did this, we found some crisps laying out at the far right end of the stall, so snacked on one casava chip the size of a large pita bread as he finished.

Then the sate man looked up to a ledge just above eye level and found something else to finish out the sate. Then he looked back down to the counter and pulled out a stapler from the side of the counter. He stapled the banana leafs and paper shut. Then up to the ledge again, he grabbed a rubber band to hold it all together. Then again on the ledge, at the far left corner, he grabbed a small black bag off a pile.

When the sate fanatic friend paid him, he opened up a tiny drawer in the ledge, which I had not yet noticed, and counted out the change.

I just watched the whole thing dumbfounded, and the image of Dick van Dyke as the jack of all trades in Mary Poppins came to mind - one suit that can do absolutely everything for the man who knows how to use it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

it's about the journey not the destination

"It's about the journey not the destination." This is one of my favourite mantras, something I want to emulate. I often but not always manage to live by that philosophy.

This weekend I experienced an unusual but lovely illustration of this principle. The entire staff of my programme went to the mountains for three days to participate in a training for emergency response. Since I really didn't want to be left alone in our Indonesian village, I tagged along, but managed to secure myself a spot in the one car instead of the two big buses.

As we drove to Bukittingi, a city far from everything but nonetheless a municipality in its own right, which apparently was the capital of Indonesia for one year in the 1940s, the drive was absolutely scenic. We drove along a river with roaring rapids. Then we came to a lake that is so big it has its own beach resorts. Then we turned left to head up into the mountains.

When we started up the hill, my colleague said, "This road has 44 turns, and at turn number 12 you can see an amazing view." I pledged to count the turns so as not to miss the view. I'm a sucker for eye candy.

We started up the hill and I started counting the switchbacks. One... Two... Three - wait a second! There was a sign with a big "3" written on it. Not only that, but there was a decorative brick monument covered with flowers, apparently part of an "adopt-a-switchback" programme with local businesses.

All the way up to number 44, at each turn we were treated to a reminder of our progress and something lovely to look at.

I don't know what my colleague meant about the view from turn #12, because while the view at 12 was lovely, so was the view at 13, 14, 15 and 44.

Right around #20, we started passing monkeys. Dozens and dozens of monkeys popping out from the jungle, so frantically that I was sure there were hundreds if not thousands more where they came from. Sometimes the monkeys stared at us, sometimes they smiled at us and sometimes they entertained us. All the way up the mountain - and as we headed back down again today.

The road is too narrow and the switchbacks too precarious for sightseers to realistically consider stopping to enjoy the mountain road. We just had to enjoy the numbers, monuments and monkeys as a part of the journey.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

peaceful and peaceless

Have you ever felt two completely contradictory emotions at once?

So sad but you can't help laughing - that amazing feeling you get when you're sobbing then someone tells a stupid joke and you burst out in a gooey snotty wet uncontrollable laugh.

So tired but you have an urge to dance - if nothing else maybe the exercise will finally knock out into a deep sleep.

So frustrated but you're full of smiles and giggles - the way I get whenever the topic of my stolen purse, i.e. my third robbery in three months, comes up in conversation these days.

So angry but somehow finding boundless opportunities for deep intimate bonding moments - perhaps it is the shared anger against a third party that brings us together.

So peaceful yet full of anxiety - the way I am now when I think about how much I love my job and the sunsets in this village, and then check my email and get no replies which reminds me of how uncertain my future is.

Monday, March 8, 2010

variety but I got nothing

Last week in England, I found myself trying to explain to people that the supermarkets here in West Sumatra are very well-stocked, reasonably large, and have a big variety. But that they seem to not have anything I like. How can this be?

As an attempt at justifying this statement, I thought about heading down to the local supermarket and doing an inventory. But it's a 30 minute walk each way, so that's only really an option on the weekends and I'm out of town two weekends in a row. I could go to the smaller version right down the street, but it's been raining all day. I know, life is just too hard.

But I myself am perplexed by this realisation. Wide variety and nothing that fits my definition of good food. I wonder if Indonesians feel the same way when they enter a supermarket in the US or UK. They walk into the neighbourhood Safeway/Sainsburys and walk up and down aisles and aisles of food. Then they leave empty-handed because there was nothing there they really want to eat.

Because that is what happens to me here. I usually pick up a packet of Oreos, though. Once in a while I may find something else that catches my fancy.

So what is it that fills entire supermarkets, such that someone such as me, the queen of exotic food tasting, can't find anything to get excited about?

For one, there's powdered milk. Boxes and bags and more boxes of a dozen different brands of powdered milk. Plain, chocolate flavoured, strawberry flavoured. Supplemented milk for babies and low-fat for grown-ups. Milk in a box, milk in a bag, milk in a single-serve pouch. This might parallel the cereal aisle or the bread aisle in a Western market, but bigger.

There are also canned beverages. I don't know what all of them are, but there's a whole line of seaweed flavoured drinks and another selection of drinks with chunks of jelly floating in the can. And sodas made from some fruits I'm not familiar with. They're all highly sweetened. There are lunch-sized boxes of fruit drinks. These are rather tasty, although they are considerably sweetened beyond the original fruit. There are also lunch-sized boxes of milk, although it's more likely you'll find strawberry or chocolate milk than plain-flavoured. I guess the beverage section in Indonesia rivals the beverage section in the West, both the soda aisle and the juice aisle. It's really full of enormous variety!

The chips and crisps section is also usually well-stocked. I have never seen such a wide array of snack foods in my life! There are potato-based, rice-based, cassava-based, prawn-based, onion-based, fish-based, seaweed-based, other-stuff-based that I don't know. Within each of these genres, of course, there is further selection. There are the big swollen discs, the woven round pretzelly figures, the ones that actually look like potato chips, the little tiny chips that look like flakes of Frito-lay, little balls, coils, cones, you name it they have it. Then there are the colours. White, yellow and pink are the most common but there are others to be found! All these tend to come in huge transparent plastic bags, think the size of half a garbage bag. So that takes up a good bit of the supermarket space.

There is also always a very extensive selection of biscuits where Oreos are a staple. So I can pick up some of those, surrounded by milky sweet chocolate biscuits, crackers with fruity fillings, cheese-chocolate sweet-and-salty snacks (I actually do like those but I fear they are terribly unhealthy), and biscuits which look exotic on the wrappers but I have no idea what's inside.

The other sections of the supermarket are a good bit smaller. Oh there's usually a big baked goods section, with both sweet and savoury pastries, oozing with butter or wrapped in banana leafs. And a wide variety of plastic utensils and paper goods. But what I've described thus far already has the potential to take up a hundred or two square metres of prime retail space. But all I've picked off the shelf so far are the Oreos.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

conundrums

Since I returned to Indonesia and the life of a humanitarian aid worker three days ago, I've had two perplexing yet inspiring questions present themselves to my existential existence:

First, as I took my first cold bucket bath back in my room here and remembered wistfully the nice hot showers I got to take in England, I all of a sudden remembered how cold I felt most of the time I was in England! In fact, on one occasion, I felt so cold I didn't want to strip down to get in the shower. True, growing up in Brasil, I always had both the warm weather and the hot showers, but let's imagine a reality in which we have to choose:

Hot weather with cold shower, or cold weather with hot shower?

I have no answer, but just asking myself this question everytime I get close to a shower has revolutionised my Indonesian existence!


Second, last night I went out with some of my colleagues in the emergency-response-humanitarian-aid-expat-community world. A group of about 10 people made it through several dozen bottles of beer. I have no idea how many, but their tally did not fit on two receipts - at least three separate receipts were written up to cover the beer. I didn't have a sip. Not because I'm a teetotalling anti-alcohol girl, but simply because I hate the taste of beer and I never really felt I needed alcohol's effect to let loose. Sure enough, when the karaoke singing started, I was jumping and dancing right there with the rest of them. For a while I was probably leading the show in terms of jumping, dancing and screaming into the microphone. Alcohol-free.

I was proud of this fact, until it occurred to me that my entire company was completely wasted and were not going to remember my behaviour the next day any more than they're remember their own behaviour. So my second conundrum this week is:

Does letting my defences down when I'm not drunk count if everyone else is drunk and therefore the social environment has let all defences down for me?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Review: The Little Princess

Remember the classic by Francis Hodgsen Burnett? A spoiled rich motherless English girl moves from India to a boarding school in London, where she is treated royally, due to her father's wealth and extravagant spending. But she is a serious, polite girl with a wild imagination and the gift of a storyteller, characteristics which draw half the school to adore her and leads the other half of the school to resent her. One day the school's headmistress receives word that her father has died of fever and grief after learning that he lost his fortune. So the girl, who fancies herself a princess in order to remind herself to be kind and generous, is reduced to poverty and is terribly abused by the headmistress and the many others who resented her during her glory days. She is practically starved and her clothes quickly become rags. But she doesn't lose her imagination and she keeps reminding herself to act like a princess.

When a wealthy sickly gentleman who lived in India for many years moves in next door, small but magical things start happening that help to ease the pain of her misfortunes. This culminates in the discovery that the rich neighbour was a good friend of her father's and in fact has in his possession the fortune that her father thought he'd lost, but as it turned out the investment had returned tenfold. So she is once again rich, and now she is even more princess-like for having experienced suffering and learned empathy. She proved herself a true princess.

I just reread this story on my flight back to Asia after a fantastic week in England. It impacted me deeply in many ways. Among them:

- When the little princess's fortunes turned, she is moved up to the cold, dank attic room. There, the sound of rats scrambling around in her walls and rafters is inescapable. At first it scares her, but then she remembers that rats are just trying to survive, just like her. So she befriends a rat. Since I co-exist with rats these days, as well, I am humbled by this 11-year old girl's maturity in relation to the little creatures.

- There is a touching scene in which the princess has been sent around town on errands all day in rain and cold and mud. Her shoes have holes and are soaking wet. She hasn't eaten all day. To distract herself from her misery, she imagines the possibility of finding a coin in front of a bakery, but then it really happens! Eagerly, she goes to buy herself some bread but on the way in to the bakery she passes a younger girl whose face is more sunken and whose clothes are more wet and dirty. She buys the bread and gives almost all of it to the other girl, then she goes home just about as hungry as ever. Would I do the same in such a situation?

- In the bakery story, as well as many of the other incidents narrated, the princess's kindness and dignity have an enormous filter down effect. When the bakery owner sees the princess's compassion, she starts giving out bread to hungry children. The princess's willingness to mother a younger student, who is given to tantrums and blame them on her dead mother, sparks the whole group of younger students to behave better. When she sneaks food to the scullery maid, a girl who is worse off than her, that girl performs better at her job and spreads cheer. The princess shared out of her wealth. Then, when she lost her wealth, she still shared what little she had, and in turn others shared with her. The sharing spread. The filter-down effect goes both ways - her headmistress and her enemies among the other students manage to spread misery like a poison. I was inspired to try to follow the princess's example because such acts go a long, long way. I was humbled, really, because I'm not doing this as I should.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Robbed... again.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away then he gives then he takes away then he gives again and takes away again.

In November I was robbed, In December I was robbed again. I was promised insurance compensation but the company lost the claim. I replaced the items in faith it'd come through. In February the insurance company finally came through but with less than I'd hoped or expected. Then the next day they changed their minds and covered the full claim. Then I went to England and my brand new replacement items got robbed again.

Actually there's more to this cycle. One day I am in awe of how generous God has been to me and I feel rich. The next day, the only thing that keeps me from despair is remembering that yesterday's feeling of bounty may very well come back tomorrow.

Though financially it's horridly depressing, I'm actually glad I got robbed last week because it reminded me of all of this. And it happened in a wealth country generally considered "safe." It served as a prompt to trust God and it gave me confidence that my safety is in his hands and can't really be attributed to my geographical location.

For those who care to know, here's what happened:

I was at a restaurant in Central London with a friend. I asked to sit at a table far from the door because I was cold, but this meant we were right in the middle of a big room. I tucked my purse under my jacket on the seat next to me and sidled up next to it - I'm not a total ditz! We got into an impassioned discussion about her teaching job and ate fantastically marvelous food. At some point someone banged into the table but I didn't think anything of it until it was almost time to pay the bill. I reached my hand over for the comforting feeling of my purse but found nothing there. My friend was still talking but I panicked. Scrambled and looked under the chair, under the table, the other side of my jacket, but it wasn't there.

We went to the restaurant staff and they asked if there was any ID in it. I said, yes, my passport, credit cards, everything (after all, I was in transit internationally). They told me that they found it in the women's toilet. I had not been to the toilet all evening! When the brought it back to me the passport and credit cards were intact. But cash (including Indonesian - what could he do with that?!) and backup mobile and ipod and ereader were not. But oh the relief when I discovered my regular phone was in my jacket pocket.

The wait staff had seen the man from the table across from us go into the women's toilet before leaving, but had thought nothing of it at the time. Now we know what happened. At least he was thoughtful enough to leave me my passport. Seriously!