(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “Culture

The story…


There is a story going on here, and it extends around the entire temple at Borobudur.  What is most fascinating is that the reliefs shown above are incredibly well rendered and seem to include characters from global cultures.  There are Europeans, Classical Greeks, Chinese, African, and Indonesian characters, all carved into rocks that are well over one thousand years old.  They all reflect the story of Buddha, his birth, life, and transcendence.

The Vespa


The Vespa is alive and well around here in Jakarta.  This one?  Not so much.

Ever wanted a pig in your coffee?

Well, this little pigguccino is just for you.

This little coffee shop nearby, the Antipodean, is a wondrous little place where breakfast is served all day and the baristas are happy to show off their artistic talents for you every time you order a cappuccino.

What’s she looking at?


When we visited the volcano, Tangkuban Perahu, I managed to take some great shots of the people who work up there.  Some of them knew I was photographing them, some of them didn’t.  I would smile and nod  and they would give me wonderful smiles back.  I’m not sure that always meant they understood that I was photographing them.

Commercialization of a volcano site


Tangkuban Perahu is an active volcano that is about a two hours’ drive from where I live.  It is about 30km north of Bandung, and it is a hub for local merchants.  The shot above is of all of the shops, both retail and food, that line the northernmost part of the trail.  There are at least five times as many shops on the total site, but this shot offered the best vantage point of the shops and trail.

Solitaire…by the stone man.

A firm and loving grip

I love that there are a few things that transcend cultural boundaries.  When I was a lot younger, my Dad would grab my arm or reach across to hold me in place if he felt that I might come to some harm.  At the time, I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it for what it is.  Now that I’m thousands of kilometers away from him and thirty years on from those experiences, I feel the love that was the motivation for his firm grip.  I feel it because I do the same with my son and daughter.

Thanks Dad, for reaching out to hold me in place, to keep me from harm.

Tired. MustpostbeforeIfallasleeeee…


There’s no place like home…

That’s my home.  Not the whole thing, but the apartment at the bottom.  From the bottom left window across to the right edge of the building.  It’s 2000 square feet, with three bedrooms and maid’s quarters.

Yeah, I thought the same thing.  We’ve not hired a pembantu (assistant – what we commonly think of as maids) yet.  Honestly, I’m having a lot of trouble with the whole idea.  The argument for hiring one is that the money they earn helps a (probably) large family and the convenience for us is that we have someone living with us who cooks and cleans for us.  The argument against, in my mind, is that I believe in fair and equal treatment for everyone.  Getting paid very little and living in a space that is an oversized storage closet is not fair and equal.  Not fair, at the least.

We’re loving most aspects of life here, but there are many aspects with which I’ve not yet come to grips.  And I’ve only been here a week.  Let’s see what the next one hundred and three weeks have in store.

Photo Friday: Blaze

There it is, people.  Fire.

This is what started it all.  This is what got us hunting and cooking.  What inspired us.  What warmed us.  What helped us shape metal.

This is what helped us shape the world.  So pretty and so dangerous.

Is teriyaki beef and broccoli a breakfast food?

The teriyaki beef and broccoli, pictured above, was really good for dinner last night.  It isn’t what I’m eating for breakfast.  I’ll be eating steel-cut oatmeal with a little brown sugar and milk.

It brings to mind a little question I’ve had for a long time:  why are certain foods only for breakfast?  Like toast?  Or scrambled eggs?  Hash browns?

Is this just a North American thing?  Why is that we have this thing called “breakfast for dinner”?  I love it when we have breakfast for dinner, but why do we not just call it toast-bacon-hash browns-scrambled eggs-orange juice for dinner?  Or, just dinner.



I am not Tony Stark.  I am one of the few men that I know who knows how to iron his own clothes.  I am one of the few men who irons his own clothes – it’s not enough to know how, you have to practice.  My old iron died this last week, so I got to buy a new one and, what with my new, more mature fashion choices, I am quickly becoming enamored of my new iron.

So here are some tips for all the men out there who can’t iron their own clothes:   Start with the backside of the collar.  Move to the shoulders.  Then do the sleeves.  When the extremities are done, start on the front.  Work from the front around the back and back to the front.  Does that make sense?  Don’t leave any hard lines on anything except the sleeves.  When you’re done, hang up the shirt and button at least the top button, preferably the top two buttons.  Hang it up in your closet.  Start on the next shirt.

Or, put it in the dryer with a damp towel.

Actually, don’t do that.  Learn how to iron.



Does this mean I’m an adult?

I made a concerted effort this summer to mature my wardrobe.

Here’s the back-story:  I’m a high school teacher.  I like witty and obscure references.  I make witty and obscure references.  My wardrobe, for many years, has reflected this.  I’m a huge fan of Threadlesssuperheroes and anything else that amuses me.  These shirts have been married to Gap Jeans and sports coats.  A mix of professional and nerdy youthfulness.

But this summer?  I made the move toward mature. I bought button front shirts (they are also “button-down” – button-down refers to the collar points being buttoned down) and have been pairing them with jeans and brown, black and navy pants (that’s three different pairs of pants – not all in one).  I’ve even been putting on a tie two or three days a week.

Here’s the fun parts.  One, I’ve never had so many people comment on my clothing choices.  Two, I’m falling in love with my iron.  T-shirts don’t require ironing, but all of my dress shirts?  They need a little steamy help.  Today’s photo is of my new, hot little number and one of the many new, more mature shirts I’ve been wearing.

We’re all weirdos.

I enjoy some of the commentary that occurs on concrete walls, written by what I can only guess are people who’ve decided that the conventional methods of communication are not suitable.

I don’t know what that thing is, with its little flag stating, “All the weirdos”, but he’s got it right.  I wish it said, “We’re all weirdos”, though.

I’m of the mind that we’re all strange and that’s what makes us human.  It’s the things we do and think and love and feel passionate about that make us who we are.  It’s only when we’re dumb enough to think that we need to fit in and conform and compromise our passions that we become less than who we are.

What are you weird about?



Where do you get your coffee?

I don’t drink coffee.  This has been a source of incredulity my entire professional life.  I am a teacher.  Therefore, I must drink coffee.  But I don’t.  Or can’t.

It’s not like I haven’t tried.  I would love a source of warm caffeine that is not as sugar-laden as my Coca Cola addiction.  So, every time my wife orders something from Starbucks, I try some of her Cinnamon Dolce Latte, or Pumpkin Spice Latte, or Cafe Mocha, or whatever.  And every time I do, I regret it.  All I can taste is the coffee.  Or, rather, all I can taste at the end of the sip is the coffee.  The first flavor is usually pleasing enough, but then the coffee steps in and smacks me around.  My palate will not acquiesce.

I was reading Howard Schultz’s book Onward and Schultz describes the process and conversation over espresso so well that he had me convinced that I should try it.  My friends all warned me off, however, knowing that I don’t drink regular coffee so why did I think that I would like the concentrated version of the stuff.  Honestly, I feel as though I’m missing out on this great culture of coffee and a small part of me is jealous of people who have a refined enough taste to discern the difference from one type of coffee to another.

The photo above was taken in Montreal at one of the many Cafe Depot locations.  It is one of many places of the coffee culture of which I am an outsider.

Pinky Winky…not to be confused with a Teletubbie…Teletubby…whatever

When my daughter was little, my wife let her watch Teletubbies.  I thought it was like Sesame Street on LSD, but my daughter, in all her toddler glory, loved the show.  Plus, my wife was a full-time, first-time mother and needed a bit of downtime and the Teletubbies were there to rescue her from having to chase my daughter.  I should also note that my daughter decided at the age of 17 months that she was no longer napping at all and that we’d all pay a price if we didn’t take heed of her demands, so sleep and rest during the day was not happening around the Bergen household.

Anyway, there’s a Teletubby (or is it “ie”?) whose name is Tinky Winky.  I’m not sure if he…she…it was the start of the furor back about a decade ago.  The furor was around the fact that Tinky Winky, who was mistaken by conservative, right-wing media and parents’ groups as being a human male, was carrying around a big bag that resembled a purse.  Parents’ groups were worried that Tinky Winky was sending the wrong message about what it meant to be male.  Really?  Go look at Tinky Winky.  Does it look male, let alone human?  It looks bipedal with a head and arms, but that’s about where the comparison ends.  I don’t think it even has genitals, although I’m not looking it up to check.  Maybe that’s what that thing is on top, although it could be a communication device to talk to the saucer people.  Whatever.  Now, almost every grown male I know has a “satchel” or “shoulder bag” or “man-bag” and none of us are worried that we’re sending the wrong message to our kids.

So what does this have to do with the photo?  When I told my friends Josh and Karina that we had planted Pinky Winky Hydrangeas in the back yard, Josh looked at me and said, “You planted a Teletubbie in your backyard?”  Yup, we planted Tinky Winky.

Batman Geeks Unite! (again)

Here’s the deal.  Some of you know that I have action figures; some of you do not.  Here’s the confirmation that I have more collectibles that many of you have not seen.  And, again, it’s Batman.  I just love that guy.

And, yes, I know he’s not real.

I’m a geek! as if this is news…

These are my new shoes.  I am very excited about my new shoes.  Converse made my new shoes.  Batman is on my new shoes.  The Dark Knight.  The World’s Greatest Detective.  The Caped Crusader.  The protector of Gotham City.  My hero.

New shoes + Batman = greatest shoes ever.  EVER!


All tied up in knots…

Head-covering is mandatory at the Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar, as is the separation of males and females.  Whether you’re a traditional practicing Sikh or a visitor to the temple, you must cover your head and remove your shoes before you have a seat on the plush carpeted floor.  There were a good number of incredible turbans all around me, but I didn’t feel out of place as there were even more men wearing bandanas like this one above.

I felt a certain amount of pride at my bandana.  A young man, traditionally and ceremonially dressed, greeted me at the door and asked which family I was with.  When I tried to explain that I was there for the groom, I was outfitted with a rose to wear on my shirt and a bandana that identified me with the family.  It was beautiful and so welcoming.  I felt like part of the team.



Speaking of being little…

It appears that, when it comes to parenting and steering and guiding children, it doesn’t matter into which culture you’re born.  I’ve personally done the “iron-hand-hold-walk-this-way” method of steering my children when they were in places of worship or formality.  It’s like a universal parent language.  Firm, but not constricting.  Commanding, not a suggestion.  Quiet, yet loudly speaking about what is right and wrong.  Physical touch can communicate so much.


Do you remember how long your attention span was when you were little and cute?

In the midst of all the formality and ritual and ceremony, this little girl took time out to fiddle with her mom’s phone.  No one was paying attention to her and she seemed kind of bored with all the adult stuff going on around her.

After the wedding, my wife, who was sitting quite a distance away from me (ladies on one side of the temple, men on the other), pointed out that a good many of the ladies around her were busy on their phones and, “wasn’t that just a bit disrespectful?”

So, if my social understanding is correct, if I had been on my phone during the wedding I would have been thought rude.  But if I was a five year old girl, everyone would think I was cute and they’d be totally understanding.  Hmmm…unfair?



Can’t Catch Me

That’s serious arrogance.  On the shoe of, presumably, the graffiti artist is the sign of his attitude:  “CAN’T CATCH ME”.  I wonder if he actually left his shoe behind on purpose or if he took off so fast that he left them behind by accident.  Oh…wait…there’s an option I hadn’t thought about until this moment…

Our local graffiti artist is the…GINGERBREAD MAN!  It all makes sense now.  I remember how the story goes:

I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little police man,

And I can run away from you, I can!

You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!


Wow.  My exam marking exhaustion is making my fevered brain worse by the moment.  Let’s stop this before it gets…any…crazzzzzzzzzzzzz


music geek (self-portrait)

I am not the person who likes to put himself in front of the camera.  I smile uncomfortably.  I rarely get a shot of myself that I appreciate.  I blink at the inopportune moment.  I don’t like photographing myself.

So this shot, above, is a departure from the norm.  I set up the shot, changed the aperture, shutter speed, white balance and got the focus just right and handed the camera to my friend Ali.  She snapped my shot of me, pointing at the Nirvana exhibit window treatment at  the EMP.

I have to admit to a certain geeky joy, a geeky emotional response to my high school grunge heroes.  That smile looks painted on, but is as real as could possibly be.

Bettie is a guitar girl

In the entrance to the EMP (and, yes, this will probably be the last post about it) is a gigantic cyclone of guitars and other musical instruments – a few keyboards, an accordian or two.  It is an impressive bit of modern, uh…sculpture?  It’s incredible, but what I really liked was that they’ve mounted these focal points, like Bettie Blue here, in amongst the rest of the instruments.

I don’t know who Bobby Ray is, but Bettie Blue looks like Bettie Page.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she is Bettie Page.  She was a pinup model back in the 1950’s.  That guitar looks like something a rockabilly band would use, like Brian Setzer and his band The Stray Cats or Reverend Horton Heat.  It’s just a great looking guitar.



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