INDONESIA AND NOT: POEMS AND OTHERWISE: Anecdotes Scattered
Author: Max Lane
DATE / TIME: 6 Nov, Sun 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
VENUE: The Arts House, Gallery II, Singapore
This is a collection of poetry, prose pieces and short stories inspired by the experiences of Max Lane, translator of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartetand collaborator with other Indonesian and Southeast Asian intellectuals and actors in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.
The book launch will comprise:
An IN CONVERSATION session with author Max Lane. Lane will talk about his 45 years of experience with Indonesia and Southeast Asian and its relationship to this collection as well as his work on a major creative non-fiction book on the origins and meaning for Indonesia of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind Buru Quartet novels.
Unheard here, Kelud erupts and its fine grey anger reaches for space. Its chariot, the streaming wind currents, carries its message afar, to the west. Grey beauty settles across a city, fogging the air, snowing the trees, caking the asphalt. Through open windows and vent holes. invisible snakes of dust sneak inside. Wisps of finest ash are knocked by breezes from the trees falling lazily onto the ground and floating sucked into human lungs. Masks protect the lungs from poison as bent backs and hoses clean and clean. This is far away from the rumbling anger. There, in Kelud’s sovereign territory where some have died and many are homeless?
The trains are the chariots of the people Carriages ripple with tired tongues of many lands A lonely man sick with nostalgia for fireworks in the dark sits across from us and talks intensely A head on my shoulder whispers new year love talk The train jerks forwards, happy new year chattily announces the driver Hands squeeze Young people hug Workers sleepy, gaze Stations come and go Yarraville.
We were talking about food last night and a memory came back to me – for the umpteenth time.
Narrow and dark and most of all hot. If I ended up at a back table, 3 or 4 metres inside, the sweat would pour from forehead and my hair would be wet enough to comb again in just 20 seconds. And the prickly heat itchiness would invade. Better to get a table at front, and visit only at night. So narrow, maybe 2 or 3 metres, and even narrower at the front – maybe one metre or 1.5 metres. It was narrower at the front because half the width was taken up with the kitchen. Sitting at the front one was almost being on the footpath. Sabang Street, in central Jakarta, in 1969 was a fun street. It was almost all restaurants, cafes and other eateries, with a row of Chinese owned general stores – also selling smuggled gin – and another row of photocopy shops, so needed for all the documents necessary for almost every activity in Indonesia.
In 69, there were still few cars. Becak trishaws dominated. No traffic, and the uneven sidewalk was enjoyable to walk along. At the right time of the year, small mountains of glowing red and hairy rambutan fruit added both visual and taste colour. The Padang restaurants still sold juicy, chilli spicy, beef rendang coated in its rich, thick, deep black coconut sauces. In the back lane that run along behind the shops, in the midst of jammed in, crammed in, packed in semi-slum houses, the kitchens cooking the rendang let out a steam engine sound as the huge stoves applied their massive heat to the giant drums of stewing beef, and coconut and chilli and a hundred other spices. And the aroma …..