Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I quit beer for 2010. A year of hard liquor has done me well. I've found a new appreciation for whiskey - although I can't say the same for much else. I am Irish after all though.

I also quit the Beatles, which was good, cos I am sure I'll appreciate them much more now.

Unfortunately, looking at my most listened to chart for 2010 I'm still listening to a lot of old bands. But then again mainly their new albums, so that's probably OK (I won't consult my inner-conscience, too afraid of what it has to say).

On the plus side my 10th most listened to album was Homocide Indonesia's The Nekrophone Dayz, which is all about Indonesian genocide in the sixties (an antidote to too much of The Beatles over the years?) and then there's Kill The Moonlight by Spoon. I haven't the foggiest who Spoon are, so that has to be good, they got be sorta indie-edgey-cool if I have listened to them for a year and still couldn't name a single song, eh?

I quit Facebook last year. Not as a new year resolution, but after a realisation that no one had much interesting to say. It's also refreshing not having someone Facebook you and dispel any mystery when they realise that yes, you too look stupid when drunk.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Clash of Civilisations

I remember during the first trip to Indonesia, thinking that this country is about as alien as I could imagine. I couldn't wrap my head around it.

Not only was it alien however, it was hospitable, my then girlfriend's family bowled me over with how welcoming they were.

Back then, I didn't go anywhere without someone chaperoning me around the Big Durian. The girlfriend left me a year or so after, but my interest in Indonesia grew, so I figured I needed to cut my own way through the country (however clumsily).

Still after all these years, there are some circles I can't square. Perhaps they don't need squaring.

For example, while for the most part I feel quite at home nattering with pals who wouldn't touch alcohol, and sometimes think about whether something or other is compatible with their religion. I wonder how they would fit in back in with my pals in our godless, alcohol swilling New York.

I remember on that first trip to Indonesia, we were staying at a pal's big house in Jogja. I was pretty indignant at not being able to sleep with the girl I had been living with for a year. Moreover, I thought the little pullavah over not seeing a jilbabed guide's hair a bit stupid.

Sometimes on that trip I felt arrogant at times, feeling that I knew better than Indonesian people. Perhaps confusing wealth or might with right. I confess I still feel this sometimes, but less often.

In any case, I wonder what would happen if the Indonesia and New York side met? They'd probably get on like a house on fire!

Freedom of Movement

The right to freedom of movement is the only issue I advocate - mainly because so few others do.

In recent years Ireland has seen a lot of immigration, now that is set to reverse.

The right to leave one's country and settle elsewhere, is you could say, the right to reject your own country and sign up to a new one, one that you hope will give you better opportunities.

It is the ultimate democratic right.

The Irish are lucky, they have many countries which will take them, not the case with unfortunate people from many other countries.

Richer Lives

The Irish ambassador to several countries including Indonesia is in Jakarta today.

Hopefully he can rake in some Rupiah on behalf of Ireland - I never thought I'd be saying that!

Recently, I have been thinking a about Ireland's economic predicament.

I have heard a lot about impending mass migration out of the country. It is a lamentable situation.

But, I always thought the Ireland I grew up in, the successful brash Celtic Tiger Ireland was too insular. That's not unusual - you learn from your mistakes not your successes.

For example, I remember when I was in college in Germany, how I thought that while many of my fellow students came from poorer countries across the world they had much richer educational experiences in Germany than my school classmates that mostly went to college at home.

I had chosen to study in Germany on a whim; most of my international classmates were forced to study in Germany because of the woeful level of education at home.

Perhaps that's a silver lining, however sad it is that a generation of Irish people will end up living in foreign lands, many of them will lead richer lives, experiencing and learning more of the world than they ever would have if they had stayed at home.