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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage–part 3

We piled in the skiff and I rowed toward a dilapidated pierhead while McWhirr continued his narration.
“My grandfather also told a darker tale. He said the streets of old Batavia were paved with sorrow, the walls built with the grief of mothers who toiled over an illusory harvest, it’s ramparts manned by desiccated souls who invested all their goods in the virtual fun-house of Mammon.“

We ascended the quay to the cobbled road.  McWhirr’s words had conjured a fantastic image of despair, though, in my green youth, I could scarce fathom the depths of his narration.
McWhirr hailed a bicak.  How this small guy was going to haul us and our seabags in the little tricycle was beyond me. His name was Rubio.  He was a grinning, eager pilot who pedaled like a fiend and navigated Jakarta like some Vasco de Gama of the alleyways.
Rubio brought us to the crumbling, neo-classical facade and we passed through the weathered teak door into the club.  While McWhirr ordered a couple pints I looked around.  A Strawberry Alarm clock tribute band blasted onstage.
Soon McWhirr came with the drinks and said: “Here’s to the Queen.”

I picked up a battered book lying on the table and read:
–And it came to pass that a great swarm of splog descended upon the land and the
soundcloud was darkened with idle slander and empty promises of sensual delights.  Worshippers of the true faith were subjected to the false blandishments of priests and the perfidious purveyors of illusory commerce.  And the once mighty creatives of the realm looked upon their followers and found naught of artistic merit and grew heavy in spirit, seeing therein ought but Jezebelian allurements by comely maids in unseemly attitudes of licentious repose–

“I’m glad I wore my sea-boots,” said McWhirr.
“Listen to this, Captain:”
–And lo, the verminous swarm of splog grew apace, and the goodly scions of the realm gnashed their teeth in anguish, for their earnest, artistic efforts were devoured by the black vultures of Satan. The fat herds of the righteous became but reeking carrion for the voracious appetites of the infidels–
“What fools would steal such windy bombast anyway?” asked McWhirr.
The joint appeared to serve a clientele of wharf-rats and scurvy rum-bots from dilapidated bum-boats.  One smelly clutch of waisters clicked madly at their laptops, their rummy faces aglow in the in the villainous blue light.
“Get this, a real Byron he thinks he is,” said a muscled hulk in a pink tutu.

“Ya really read that BS? “
Asked his mate in a voice  that sounded hollow and grating-like 50 fathoms of hause-fouled chain.
I’d heard of the splog pirates, but thought them mere paranoid tales by rummy tars around the fo’c’sle stove. And now here they were, as big as life, waylaying the earnest efforts of my myself and my literary colleagues like the nefarious ship wreckers luring unwary vessels with false
lights on the storm-wracked coast of Cornwall.

I continued reading:

-The once proud sites of the righteous became barren wastes of vacuous splogs and brazen images of bouncing titties–

“Maybe there is something to it after all,” says McWhirr.

“Aye, Captain. And look what we have now in this rank grog-shop of the internet-a foul lot of brazen cut-throats  who’d just as soon steal your traffic as say how-do-ye-do.”

One such galoot, a skanky brigand with a striped shirt and cutlass, approached the bar next to McWhirr with the slithery movement of a wolf eel saying:

“Eh mates, stand us a pint.”

I hastened to intervene.

“My good sir, may I introduce Saturnius Machirr?”

At this, the miscreant grew pale as an albino beluga and withdrew with an obsequeous bow.

“Most honored to meet you.”

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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage–part 2

The gamelan orchestra still echoed over the calm anchorage as we sat in Old Hand’s saloon scarfing a late dinner of kippers and ale.
I’d signed  aboard the stout cutter for a perilous voyage across the Indian Ocean in search of adventure.  But adventure appeals only to clueless greenhorns like myself, it being but  a foolish, romantic notion to seasoned salts like McWhirr, a pragmatic Quaker who has had his fill of adventure on the seas.
I’d heard he’d fallen among adherents of the Zoroastrian persuasion. Or was it some Sufi sect whose adherents await the 12th Imam’s return and wander the storm-wracked shores of this world seeking some vestige of a golden age–a relic safeguarded from the literalist creed by occult signs that can be decoded only in the secret halls of pure imagination?

McWhirr, his face lit amber in the oil lamp’s amber glow, leaned back and lit his battered pipe.
“I first heard of the India Rubber Theme Park when but a nipper on my grandfather’s knee. He told me of the Neo-Liberal Art Exhibition, the wonders of the Pharmaceutical Pavilion and how he once saw the CEO of Walmart. He told me yarns of how it’s foundations had first been laid in the 21st Century by drones captured during the great rubber wars.

That was a simpler time, when India Rubber ruled the whole archipelago.  Now it’s dog eat dog, with upstart pirates trying to challenge the Dutch rubber monopoly and their quasi-governmental powers by fair means or foul.

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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage 1–A reblog of an earlier post

wpid-2014-12-08-14.04.04.jpg.jpeg“Ashadu-an-la…”
Came the loud scratchy blare of loudspeakers over the still anchorage.
“Ilaha illa allah…”
I rose disgruntled and ascended the companionway to see McWhirr standing on deck, still in his black watch coat despite the fast-
rising heat.  His normally stark, grim profile appeared transformed by the dawn light with an aura of rapturous praise.
Not wanting to disturb his meditations, I returned below and put on a pot of joseph.

After a harrowing passage through
the Sunda Strait, we’d anchored in the Sunda Kelapa harbour the night before under the tall spires of north Jakarta.  I’d had a fitful sleep, and the portentous imagery of my dreams had been confounded by a blasted, bleeping racket that still echoed over the calm anchorage.  Turns out we’d brought up just off the Ancol Theme Park.
McWhirr came below.  I handed him a cup and ventured:
“Captain, why have we sailed into this steaming latitude?”
For indeed, it was cruel muggy and a pall of charcoal gray hung over the city.
McWhirr lit his pipe and said:
“I was but a green swab surfing the long fetch of the seven cyber-seas when I first heard of the East Indies.  That was a simpler time, when a single multinational corporation called the IndiaRubber.com ruled the whole archipelago.  Now it’s dog eat dog, with upstart pirates trying to challenge the Dutch spice monopoly and their quasi-governmental powers by fair means or foul.”
“But take care son,” he said darkly, “one word from the Dutch, colonial CEO and we could be standing before a firing squad before you can say: Garcia Lorca.”

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The crew sees the Wayang Kulit

“To the Batavian Arms,” said McWhirr to the becak driver.  How this small guy was going to haul us and our seabags in the little tricycle was beyond me. His name was Rubio.  He was a grinning, eager pilot who pedaled like a fiend and navigated Jakarta like some Vasco de Gama of the alleyways.
Rubio brought up before the crumbling, neo-classical facade and we passed through the weathered teak door into the club.  While McWhirr ordered a couple pints I looked around.
A Strawberry Alarm clock tribute band blasted onstage.
Soon McWhirr came with the drinks and said:  “The barkeep says Remy comes in every night around 2200 hours. Might as well enjoy the show.  Here’s to the Queen.”
In came a gamelan orchestra followed by the shadow puppeteer who, smoking a kreteck, smirked left and right to all patrons–especially the fat ones up front who swilled arak and spoke in conspiratorial tones to the kriss-bearing lugs behind them.
The place went dark.  An oil lamp cast fantastic shadows over a large, translucent screen that flickered and danced with frenzied life.  I was enthralled by the spectacle of phantom armies leveled by the cannonade of imperialist might as men with weeping, bamboo flutes were led away shackled. The gamelan’s slow rhythm seemed to fall over the whole archipelago in a haunting drone of pain that echoed the undying breath of ancient, Indonesian spirit; as if Rama’s return to his kingly estate mirrored their own tortured story; and Hanuman’s revolutionary, healing energy, born with the very earth of mankind, must ever suffer cyclical defeat and triumph–an ebb and flow whose influences lie beyond the sublunary sphere.  It’s a story old as history–and fresh as the play of light on a silk screen.
The screen went dark and then emblazoned by the bold legend: Samsung

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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage – alternate version

“Ashadu-an-la…”
Came the loud, static blare of loudspeakers over the still anchorage.
“Ilaha illa allah…”
Disgruntled at the interruption of my much needed sleep, I rose from my bunk and ascended the companionway to see, still in his black watch coat despite the fast-rising heat, Saturnius McWhirr already on deck.  His stark, grim profile seemed transfigured by the dawn light with an aura of rapturous praise.  I had always thought he was of the Zoroastrian persuasion.

Not wanting to disturb his meditations, I returned below and put on a pot of joseph.

After a harrowing passage through
the Sunda Strait, we’d anchored in the Sunda Kelapa harbour the night before, under the tall spires of north Jakarta.  I’d had a fitful sleep, and the portentous imagery of my dreams had been confounded by a blasted, bleeping racket that still echoed over the calm anchorage.  Turns out we’d brought up just off the Ancol Theme Park.
McWhirr came below.  I handed him a cup and asked:
“Captain, why have we sailed into this steaming latitude?”
For indeed, it was cruel muggy and a pall of charcoal gray hung over the city.
McWhirr lit his pipe and said:
“I was but a green swab surfing the long fetch of the seven cyber-seas when I first heard of the East Indies.  That was a simpler time, when a single multinational corporation called the IndiaRubber.com ruled the whole archipelago.  Now it’s dog eat dog, with upstart pirates challenging the Dutch spice monopoly and their quasi-governmental powers.

“But take care son,” he said darkly, “one word from the Dutch, colonial CEO and we could be standing before a firing squad before you can say: Garcia Lorca.”