Sexy Jenny and Other Stories
On a recent trip to Bandung there was one thing that particularly struck my attention. While browsing through the different street stores, I discovered a flag shop. One of the big flags on display was - hold your breath - the swastika flag, which was placed near to the flag of Israel.
Even though there have been a number of anti-Israel and anti-American demonstrations going on here (including several bomb threats targeted at the American embassy which caused them to shut down operations for about a week), it would be wrong to link this observation to the ongoing middle-east conflict.
An Austrian envoy in Jakarta told me that when she was attending an International Aiesec conference in Hong Kong, one of the girls picking her up at the airport was wearing a T-shirt with the swastika emblem. It turned out that she was just not aware of the meaning of it, and apparently she's not the only one in Asia.
Fortunately, there are also funnier things to report. When our Canadian trainee Jennifer was attending one of her company's social events, all of the employees were asked to shortly introduce themselves. To her surprise, all of them mentioned that they are “sexy”. Unsure about whether she misunderstood something, she tried to be as cool as possible when it was her turn to introduce herself, so she only stated her name and country of origin. To her discomfort, she was then asked: “Sexy?”
Wanting to play the game, she promptly answered 'yes'! After everybody had a good laugh, she then found out that what they really wanted to know was her 'seksi', the Indonesian word for 'section'.
Oh well, it will be one of the embarrassing highlights she will remember for a long time, especially now that everybody at her office calls her 'sexy Jenny'.
Lately, I've been confronted with a growing awareness of the term 'wet season'. This week we didn't see the sun for four consecutive days and we've encountered a lot of rain. Still, you would hardly ever use an umbrella here. At most of the tall office buildings, as soon as the rain starts, the street kids appear with their oversized umbrellas, and for a couple of coins these kids will accompany you to your car or bus.
Also, the closest warung (covered food stall) where you can get everything from nasi goreng (my rediscovered favorite - fried rice) to soto ayam (chicken soup with fresh veggies) and kelapa muda (young coconut, including the delicious juice) is just around the corner of my boarding house, so no need to get wet.
That is, if you're lucky enough that it's not pouring down in buckets, otherwise you better postpone your dinner. But for now, the sun is back and the swimming pool is waiting!
*Contributed by another visitor to the site:
The swastika is not origianlly a european symbol. It is Hindu/Indian originally. In that context it stands for unity. If it is standing on one of its sides flat it is the symbol for unity. If it is standing on a point it is the Nazi symbol. However, many people don't realize the difference- that includes Asians who see the nazi symbol as a symbol of unity and Europeans who see the symbol for unity as a Nazi symbol.
Another visitor to the site shared this information:
Just for correction, the Asian swastika-lika symbol is a Buddhist symbol. The Buddhism symbol is not the same as the Nazi symbol (people should look carefully, crosses are for one in the clockwise (Nazi) and the other the contrary (Buddhism).
Our thanks to Juerg for sharing a few of his experiences with our readers.