There’s nothing Indonesians love better than a success story involving their compatriots. When Indonesian schoolkids scraped the bottom of the international league tables in maths and science, many were quick to point out that this sample of several thousand could not be representative, because, well, look, we did well in the Wizards at Mathematics International Competition in Lucknow. So the national media was all a-flutter recently to learn that an Indonesian kid was captain of Real Madrid’s under 15 team. Despite their wild enthusiasm for football, Indonesians don’t exactly excel in international competition in the sport, so the news was doubly welcome. Too good to be true, almost.
And indeed it was. A little due diligence by citizen journalists found that the Indonesian was in fact at the pay-to-play Real Madrid Foundation, where the only selection criterion is the thickness of your father’s wallet. Even there, he wasn’t captain. Ho hum.
But could the original story have been true? Absolutely. Indonesia is so vast, so varied, so full of the absolutely improbable, that virtually anything could be true. I bring this up (in an only slightly prickly way) because a few readers of Indonesia Etc. have questioned some of my descriptions. Is it really that chaotic on the deck of a cargo ship? (video) Do families really live bare-breasted in oil-palm plantations? (slideshow) For doubters, and for anyone who wants to discover Indonesia in more dimensions, I’m really pleased to offer a re-designed multi-media version of Indonesia Etc. With the help of early readers, programmer extraordinare Darwin Lopena has made the new version simpler to use, with much better display of photos, slideshows and videos. We’ve also added translations of letters from generals and ads for penis enlargement. So if you think any descriptions in the book are just too unlikely to be true, well, you can check out the visual evidence for yourself. Buy the glorious improved eBook here.
If you want to try it out first, you can download a trial chapter for free. [29 MB, best to hit this link from your iPad, be patient, then open in iBooks. Other download instructions here.] I’ve given you chapter 6, which talks about patronage and corruption, and includes videos of child brides of senior politicians, rice farming and other stuff. It works best on a iPad. It’s fine on most Android tablets too, especially if you use the free Namo Pubtree reader. Sorry, it doesn’t work well on Kindles.
If you enjoy this and want to help me pay the two young men who helped me make the multimedia book, we’d really appreciate a donation of any amount. Thanks!