lundi 7 mai 2012

THE HUMBLE MAN OF BOGOR


UNEXPECTED PLEASURES OF TRAVEL
THE HUMBLE MAN OF BOGOR

2 May 2012 the flight from Singapore touched down at Spoekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, clean and orderly, another face of Indonesia. $25 visa on arrival. Within a few minutes, passport is stamped and out to the clean lounge awaiting the luggage. A minute later, a wiry young man, who has a strong sun tanned Latin look, introduces himself. I am here to take you to Mr J. We are off to Bogor and depending upon traffic, we will be there between one and two hours from now.
First of all who is Mr J?
And BOGOR?
 with Mr J on the flight from Omaha to Denver.


 with Mr J at Sentul City, Bogor, Indonesia 



All fans of Palms would recognize this path lined with palms at Bogor
Let us go back to 22 March 2012  (seven weeks prior)
A cold morning in Omaha, the last place you would expect the magic of Bogor to be born.
These are the unexpected pleasures of travel; they happen in places you least expect to happen.
As I entered the waiting room of the non-descript OMA airport, to catch a 0600 flight to Denver on my way on a tortuous route to Asia! (Oma to den to lax to hnl to gum to hkg to kul to pnh!), a fit looking happy faced Asian man smiled at me and I smiled back. Our eyes met and we acknowledged a couple of times and the flight was called and I took my seat, 1 A and who should be in seat 1 B? Our Asian friend!
I thought he was on his way home to California or SF, since he said he was traveling to San Francisco. We began to talk about travel; soon I realized that he knew a lot about international travel (something rare in an American), the nuances of various airlines, ranging from Qatar Airways to Singapore Airways and his various recommendations on specific routes. When the flight landed in Denver a few minutes later, I gave him my card and he promised to write, but when I was aboard my flight to Los Angeles on the same seat, who should be sitting next to me?
Mr W who picked me up at CKG and Mr W who organized all the travel to Bogor,Jogja and Borabudur
That was Mr J, with an impish smile and his usual welcoming face. He is from Jakarta he said, in Indonesia and he comes to USA regularly, as he does to Europe in connection with his business, buying and searching grains and proteins for his business of animal feed distribution in Indonesia. But what spiked my interest in our conversation more than his business was his interest in health of the people and even more importantly was his good set of ethics and behaviour, very reminiscent of Dharma of the Buddhist philosophy, I thought.
Something in his demeanour was very attractive to the soul. I told him I was on my way to Phnom Penh and explained a little bit about Community based Peers and Education regarding health in a resource poor community.
We said good-bye at LAX, he went on to his SFO gate and I went in search of HNL gate.
The flight segments LAX-HNL and HNL-GUM are very long, 5 ½ and 7 ½ hours long, at both HNL and GUM the connections were tight. While waiting for a connecting flight to KUL at HKG airport, I noticed that Mr J had sent me an email wishing me welcome to Asia and hoping that we meet again.
He was always prompt in answering emails, especially considering he was on the road a lot: Barcelona, Phnom Penh, Bali and Kuala Lumpur in the month since we had met! He took time to reply to my emails. A man after my own heart, since I like to answer emails promptly and thus feel connected. On that particular trip, after Phnom Penh, I went on to Paris and after a brief stay, went off to serve the Indians. I had planned to return to Paris on the 30th April, while checking for airfares to return to Paris, a thought occurred to me. If Mr J would like, I would go home via Jakarta even though it is a bit out of the way. I wrote to him and gave him my dates and also expressed a desire to see Borobudur, a place of historic and spiritual interest to me. I told him that I could arrive on the morning of the 2nd at 9 AM into Jakarta and hopefully spend the last two days in Phnom Penh and go back to Paris to arrive on the 9th.
That is how I happened to be at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on that morning.
welcome Lunch at Sentul City. Healthy food throughout my stay in Indonesia
You can call me, W, said the Latin looking Indonesian.
Bogor Bogor, I searched my mind. Something so familiar about that name. I thought about Multatali and Pramoedya ananta toer, giants of Indonesian literature of the past. Yes the ancient Hindu city of Pajajaran, then Buddhist, then Muslim and finally Dutch, Buitenzorg and home of the one of the best/largest/most diverse collection of plants and one of the best 10 botanical gardens of the world!
at the entrance to the Bogor Botanical Gardens, Bogor, Jawa, Indonesia.

I became so excited at this possibility! Fairchild in Miami, Kew in London, Marjorelle in Marrakech, and our own Botanical Gardens in La Habana, TanSacha’s garden in Thailand, Butchart in Victoria. And the smaller ones in former British colonies and also the one in Bangalore. All these went through my mind…Melbourne, Versailles.
This was to be one of the many gifts on this first trip to Indonesia!!