Glenn Jimmy Manday is a careful man. We are on the Indonesian Island of Flores to do some work on improving access to markets for producers who are poor. We arrived late afternoon a couple of days ago. We check in to a hotel of beach front Villas called Sea World. Ten minutes later Glenn emerged from his little cottage and began telling me about the malaria and dengue epidemic here, and was I on the medication? Darn I forgot all about Malaria. No matter Glenn has an extra supply and though I am a week late in starting the dose, better late than never, I say to myself. It is 3.30 pm and we haven’t eaten and Glenn is frantic to eat. I take my two tablets and Glenn is beside himself. It turns out the doctor told his that the tablets had to be taken on a full stomach or he would die, he thinks the doctor was joking but he is not quite sure. He is worried about me. Anyway that is why he has to eat, it has been a week and he is due to take the second dose. I offer him my repellent but he tells me he has many tubes and had already rubbed it all over his body even under his clothes. It is hot but he is wearing a think cotton burgundy sweater. I ask him why, and he says “just in case”. We order. I ask him what he is having, “the seafood with the little feet in it” it is so hot and I am thinking malaria epidemics and seafood with little feet ?
Three days later and we are sitting in the airport at Maumere, on the island of Flores. There is no air-conditioning .The plane has been delayed by 90 minutes. Actually it was delayed for 24 hours, it was supposed to go yesterday but broke down in Kupang and so we are waiting for it again today. Glenn is covered in perspiration is even coming through his sweater , you can see the dark bands of sweat around his armpits and between his shoulder blades. I ask him why he is wearing the sweater again and he says “just in case” . I am about to ask “ in case of what” but think better of it.
Glenn is Chinese Indonesian from Menado in Sulawesi and works with me as a Market Analyst He has just been on the phone to his wife to tell her when the plane is supposed to leave. There are always these tense pre-flight phone calls between Glenn and his wife. She prays and fasts when he is about to travel on a plane and he tries to persuade her to eat. So when a plane is delayed, which in Indonesia is often, there are many calls and Glenn becomes more animated the longer the delay. I ask him if he likes his wife Angelica fasting and praying when he travels. Glenn thinks for a moment, then says that he likes it that she prays for him when he is flying. I say what about the fasting. He says that the fasting is no use without the prayer, otherwise it is just a diet. I feel I might be missing something but I am too tired and it is too hot to figure out.
The flight in uneventful. The cabin airconditioning is set at ‘artic’ In my teeshirt I am hugging myself to keep warm, Glenn is asleep beside me, warm in his “just in case” sweater.
We make it back to Kupang. Glenn calls his wife and calls of the fast. Another successful intervention.
On the way from the airport we are following a minibus, across the back window is a big picture of two lovers. Underneath the picture is says “Full Press Body”, which given the couples loving looks sounds reasonable. Kupang is the capital of West Timor. Timor means ‘east ‘in Bahasa Indonesia, so East Timor is actually East East and West Timor is West East and both are predominantly Christian. So it is no surprise when the next minibus we follow has a large picture of Jesus on the back, but what was surprising is that the caption underneath also said Full Body Press. Turns out Full Body Press is the name of the factory that makes the minibus bodies. The minibuses also have signs across the front, things like Bravery, Sexy Woman, Glory and so on. The sign that really got me thinking was in big letters across a front windscreen; “Piss and Love”. Amen to that.
Jock Noble Maumere, Flores Indonesia, November 2008