Vantage graphics ... accept no substitutes


  • Feature Stories
  • Photos
  • Travels
  • Get Certified and teach English.
    Teach English and see the world.
  • Dangers
  • Living in Indonesia:
  • A Husband's Perspective

  • Nightlife
  • Urban myths
  • Feature

    Should I stay or should I go now?

    Getting out of bed this morning I have an incredible urge to listen to the Clash. I'm in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city and I'm in the middle of what?

    Reflecting on how I've made decisions in my life and what influences those decisions doesn't make my present situation any easier. Ordinarily I would have my own plans, dreams and ambitions and with the advice of my girlfriend, family and friends would make moves to execute them.

    My Consulate's advice is to consider leaving as everyone is so uncertain about the immediate future especially with 'Kebangkitan Nasional' (Awakening of the Nation in the late sixties) on Wednesday 20th June. I've just received a phone call from the British Consulate offering me a flight to Singapore for $750 - up from $200 (USD), the school where I work is temporarily closed and many expats have already left.

    Unfortunately, I don't want to leave and even if I did I couldn't afford to, due to the demand for plane tickets and Exit Visas. Most banks remain closed so the chance of a money transfer is slim.

    I've been in Indonesia for over 2 years and I'm settled with a house, friends, and plans to start a small business. More importantly,I've been trying to see where things are going with my Indonesian girlfriend.

    I arrived in Indonesia with an open mind, as opportunities in Britain seemed limiting, and in my relationship with Debbie I've always tried to make sure outside factors, such as the end of my contract, never affected our relationship.

    Now, Debbie's confused, feels helpless and is worried that I might have to leave and worried if I stay. I'm stressed.

    A lot of my friends and colleagues are leaving, so when things settle down I might not have a job to go back to. If that's the case, I'm wasting what little money I have waiting it out to see what does happen.

    I'd imagine my family wants me to leave judging by outside news. Talking to a friend in England on the phone last night, he told me he was watching live pictures of rioters in Surabaya and he'd just seen two people get hit by a car.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't astute enough to ask him if it was day or night.

    Last night, Internal TV stations were running 'Laporan Khusus' (Special Reports) stating moves The President was planning to make, such as the present Cabinet Reshuffle. And today things seem to be returning to normal, with at least a few shops open.

    The way we are both feeling can be expressed in an Indonesian proverb, 'Seperti makan buah simalakama; jika dimakan bapak mati, kalau tidak dimakan ibu mati' (It's like eating the 'simalakama' fruit, if you eat it your father dies and if you don't, your mother dies). Our plans seem like dreams, our choices are absolute - STAY or GO - and it's all way beyond our control; as is the position of many others in Indonesia today.

    Written on May 17,1998
    Things have changed. Many things have improved.
    Geoff did eventually leave, but it was years later.
    We're contemplating moves of our own.


    By Geoff Andrews

    Please come back soon and visit me.

    (Tanahlot Temple, Bali)

    backwards arrowbar


    Email duper.