By Richard Boughton
What do I dislike about Indonesia? Well, short people, for one thing. Oh, I’m not saying that I have anything against short people on the whole, as a creature type. I’m sure they are all very nice. Or that many of them are, anyway. And I am also sure that there are a number of short people here who are actually fairly tall.
The problem is not with the short people themselves, but with the inconveniences they cause me to suffer.
What do I mean by this? Take kitchen counters, for instance. Throughout Indonesia, kitchen counters have been fashioned to suit the height of the common Indonesia kitchen user – who, moreover, is most probably a woman, and thus shorter yet. I myself am not an overly tall person by American standards, and yet I find that these countertops are impossibly low – really more like cobblers’ benches.
Can you imagine how difficult it is for me to perform the multiple kitchen tasks I find daily before me – washing, slicing, cooking, cleaning – when I must hobble from one end of the counter to the other bent over at a 90-degree angle? Can this be good for the spine? It seems I am a little more stooped in stature every day. It happens only by tiny increments, but it all adds up. For all I know the Hunchback of Notre-Dame started out as a perfectly upright man, and it was just all those years of pulling on a rope to ring a bell that led in due time to a serious case of poor posture.
And then there are the common housecleaning implements which, here in Indonesia, are uncommonly abbreviated. Take the 3-foot-long broom handle, for instance. It’s the same with the mop handle; the same with the outdoor rake. A person of my (regular) height cannot possibly stoop and bend and contort the day long without ending up like a little old man in need of a cane. Even so, I suppose the cane would be much too short as well.
That’s another thing I don’t care for, by the way: little, old men. Despite the fact that I’m a little bit old myself.
I have a proactive idea. I am not content to simply complain. A handle extension is what I have in mind. A handy device fashioned in such a way that it may be slipped over the handle of any existing household tool, thus extending its length to suit the Western deficit.
What else? Oh, the humidity. I dislike the humidity in Indonesia. It seems excessive. I think the problem should be well up on the list of things that need to be addressed in this country – corruption, poverty, religious extremism, wobbly infrastructure, rising prices, decreasing pay, traffic congestion, untreated sewage. And humidity.
Oh, and then there’s the rubbish on the beaches of Kuta. Even though this is not really our trash per se, as one official has made clear, it still needs to be addressed, regardless of where it came from. Unless we can convince that country to which it originally belonged to take it back again.
But aside from what I’ve mentioned above, I’m fine. There are only these few things that I dislike. The rest is all good. Wonderful, really. To tell the truth, my wife is much worse than I. She dislikes, she says, the people in general, the pollution in the air, the bypass traffic, the motorbike drivers, the greedy sellers, the gossipy women, the rabid dogs, the rivers of garbage, the footpath scammers. And that’s only the beginning.
My wife is Indonesian. She is also short.