Monthly Archives: August 2008

Sweltering Bangkok ‘Misses’ Thaksin

Having landed in Bangkok’s sweltering heat after Bali’s cool season, it was hard to finish of the final pages of editing the translated Buddhist text (in Indonesian), but after a few days it is done. I am sure now the debate about terms will start. We are translating from english, which ahs made its own compromises with Tibetan and Sanskrit, and it is sometimes hard to convince people that meaning is more important first than melliflous phrases. we shall see. It is always fun to see what new things are going on in the city, but nothing too remarkable right now. Except one comment on the wall which seems very much a philosophical take from a teenage point of view:writing-on-the-wall.jpgThe country meanwhile is distracted for a while from the whole Thaksin debacle by the very event he was allowed out of the country to attend: the Olympics. Tonight one Thai boxer, Somjit Jongjohor made gold. A military man, he was a real sportsman, very courteous to the other medalists. A bit of true Olympic spirit. So the Thais are happy tonight:somjit.jpgof course on Monday I am sure that everybody will be back wondering about Thaksin’s extradition again. (There was a demo last week at the British embassy). There is endless speculation about why the judges let him go to the Olympics in the first place – whatever you think, Thaksin certainly is a hot hot potato….. Tomorrow I am off to India for a two week disappearing act in the Himalayas. I doubt I will be posting much for that time, even from Delhi.

A Farewell to Dr Djelantik;

I realised today that it has been 3 weeks since I have posted anything on this blog. August has been incredibly busy, and the last weeks I was in Bali were all 17 hour work days, finishing off images for Jerome’s book, and editing a Buddhist text translation at night. Meanwhile one of my all time favorite people, one who I definitely consider the Balinese man of the century, Dr A.A. Made Djelantik of the Karangasem royal family in east Bali, passed away this year, having led a long and eventful life. Being the son of the last ruling king of Karangasem certainly didn’t leave him with many hang ups. Dr Djelantik led an adventurous life with the humility of one who clearly knows that the universe is huge, and that one has to rely one’s strength of character rather than so called birthright. He studied in Holland, where he met the love of his life, Astri. They raised a family whilst living a very full life: working in remote parts of the Moluccas during the years of revolution and early days of the Republic, and also as the first director of Bali’s public hospital in Sanglah. The good doctor, a tropical disease specialist, worked for the WHO as a malaria expert in Africa and the Middle East i (which included a few days stint as the ‘special guest’ in the tin roof isolation prison at the desert HQ of an Iraqi intelligence interrogation squad who were positive he was a spy), a narrow escape from the the volcano Gunung Agung’s wrath in 1963, lecturer on Balinese art and culture, active in Balinese cultural preservation, founder of the Walter Spies foundation, and of course a few other things which I can’t remember here. He was also a practicing doctor, and helped my youngest daughter nip some serious tropical illnesses in the bud. This portrait I took of him was shortly after his beloved wife died in the 90’s – apparently she died in the early hours of the morning. He sat with her waiting for the dawn, playing her favourite tunes on his violin.dr-djelantik.jpg He honored me by opening my exhibition at the Four Seasons, and gave a truly touching speech, rare these days. After a serious illness which left him in a coma for several weeks, he came back fighting, and recovered. True to form, well into his seventies, he decided to take up painting to depict some of the many remarkable moments in his life. A few months after his cremation, his children held a memorial for their parents, to thank them for such an extraordinary life. The paintings were also exhibited, and his book of paintings and the interviews which Idanna Pucci did for the book were also discussed. _d3b2900.jpgdsc_4885.jpgThe memorial was as ecleclectic as Dr Djelantik’s life. Some of his grand children played some soft rock. His daughters Surya, Wulan, and Madeli danced classic legong, son Widur did his first Baris in 40 years and it pulled it off quite weel, a bunch of granddaughters did the weaving dance, while Stranger in Paradise MadeWijaya aka Michael White did his trannie legong, dragging away on a cigarette (and it must be admitted, stole the show), and the first President’s saughter Sukma Soekarnoputri was on hand to give Wulan a big kiss, before announcing (to the whole family’s astonishment) her campagn to have Sanglah hospital renamed Dr Dejalantik Hospital. We’ll see.dsc_4951.jpgdsc_5054.jpgdsc_5149.jpg Fare well Dr Djelantik. We will never forget you.