Those are my kids. We were walking back from a short visit to Pura Batu Bolong, a Hindu temple near our hotel in Lombok. They got ahead of my wife and me. They are incredibly great kids. When I became a parent, I had no idea how much happiness my children would bring me. The happy is immeasurable.
My son, Ben, and I were hanging around at Taman Sari Bali and I said I was thirsty. We sat near the pool drinking Orange Fanta, and I started to blow a note on the bottle. Ben tried, and failed. We tried again, and again, and again, and just at the moment I took this photo he sounded a note on the bottle. I think I was more surprised than he was.
Perfect timing, or dumb luck. Either way, it was fun.
This year has been momentous. I have watched as my family and I have adapted to our move from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, to Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved from teaching in a public school to an international, private school. I moved from one of the most beautiful places in the world (nah…it is the most beautiful) to a place I haven’t figured out yet. I moved from mountains and rivers to busy streets and overpopulation. I moved from ease and comfort (with a bit of financial challenge) to a place of challenge.
2012…the year of the move.
I love when I’m shooting and I find that, to my surprise, my candid photo has turned into a posed photo.
We were sitting in the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta, waiting to leave on our Christmas trip to Bali and I was taking some photos. I thought I had Ben without his knowing it, and then he turned to look right up my lens as I shot this. Ha! My son cracks me up.
I took this photo while shooting on the fly. I was walking to work and a couple of students got our of their car ahead of me. As we walked up to the school, the brother placed his hand on his sister’s backpack and guided her to where she needed to be on the path. It was a small, kind gesture…a brotherly gesture. I got this shot off just before he removed his hand.
Well, I’m not American, but every day is a good day to be thankful. Having spent my life in Canada, and just having moved to South Asia, Jakarta specifically, I have had much…more than much…for which to be thankful. My walk to and from school makes me remember that I am in a privileged spot in this city, this country really. I have a lovely, relatively un-decorated, large apartment, a beautiful family, a well-appointed job, a couple of motorcycles to buy (this week, hopefully), and a well-stocked kitchen, even though we don’t always eat at home. A ridiculously high number of people in this country don’t have that, any of that. I am colossally, universally, cosmically thankful.
This was shot, by the way, at the Ragunan Zoo back in August. If this is any indication of the massively disparate economies of this country, it cost my family 14000 Rupiah to enter this zoo. That works out to about $1.50 Canadian, or American for that matter. All four of us for $1.50.
These girls, and the boy in the background, all attend a school that is run by the Bala Keselamatan (Salvation Army). They are a few of the more than 2000 students who attend the school in Palu, Sulawesi. It is a remarkable school, but what’s more remarkable are the students.
Beautiful, curious, enthusiastic, and energetic, their stories will inspire and break hearts. Many of them do not live with their parents. The reason? Their parents know that an education is important, but living in rural Palu with little means to a good education has left parents with one option – send their children to Palu to live and learn. Many of these children rarely see their parents.
They choose an education over family. That is a choice I’m glad I don’t have to make.
…to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. “
So said Mark Twain, and I agree. I think that there are other agents for the fatality of negative human attributes, like education and education. And I should be clear – some people can travel the world looking for McDonald’s restaurants and Macy’s stores and Holiday Inn hotels. They can avoid all the culture and ethnicity and find North America everywhere they go, complaining that no one speaks English. Sadly, I’ve been around some of those people as I’ve traveled around South Asia.
I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling with and around people who are looking for a better understanding of the world and its people. It may be, though, that it’s the attitude of the traveler that will determine whether prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness are fatally eradicated. Mark Twain, from what I’ve read, seemed to be the kind of man who was willing to challenge himself as well as others. Some people, sad people, do not have any desire to upend their tiny understanding of the world.
Before I moved to Indonesia, I had seen photos of South Asian families riding on motorcycles. The whole family. Parents, kids, babies with groceries, backpacks and whatever else all packed on what we, in Canada, referred to as a scooter. Some little 125cc Honda.
Then I got here and witnessed it for myself. One part of me is excited at the prospect of getting a motorcycle and riding around Jakarta streets. The parent in me has little, maybe no, interest at getting my kids on my bike and riding with me.
How does the saying go? When in Rome? or Jakarta?
Our move to Jakarta from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, was in large part due to a desire to show my children the world. There are moments, however, when I think that I was crazy to take my daughter (above) from the relative ease and comfort of North America and transplant her in a city like Jakarta.
I attended a formal dinner hosted by the Australian Embassy last night and was asked by some of the people at my table if I had lived in any other Asian cities before. When I answered, “No”, their reply was one of shock. When I asked why they were so shocked, they told me that if moving to an Asian city is like learning to ride a bike, then Singapore is the easy bike with training wheels, and Jakarta is like trying to learn to ride a bike by starting with a unicycle.
I guess I like a challenge, and I want that for my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing what the world is like, that there are challenges. What’s important is that we meet those challenges; sometimes we will fail, and sometimes we will triumph, but we will never avoid.
I hope I made the right move.
On the way home today, I snapped this shot while walking with my son this afternoon. Sometimes one has to wait a little to get the right shot. There was traffic coming towards me as I was shooting this, but I waited until they all passed by and I was able to get this shot of a father and his child, holding hands, looking at flowers.
I think it was worth the wait.
These are my kids. They’re mine. They’re also my wife’s, but they’re mine. Mine, mine, mine. Until the day comes that they leave the house, decide to get married, and move far aw…nahhh…they’ll still be mine.
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.
This is what it looks like when a person – in this case, my son – merges with our pool. Well, the pool that belongs to our apartment complex here in Jakarta.
Oh, and yes, this was as fun to shoot as it looks.
This is purely a family project. It’s not a great photo. It’s not the best photoshop job…but it is my son. Today, at the pool, I set the camera to hi-burst mode and took shots of my kids jumping in the water. My wife snapped off a couple of me too, but I won’t post those here as some people may not have strong stomachs.
As my family, my parents and sisters and their families, wakes up in a couple of hours, this will greet them in their email in-boxes. I’m posting it for them. Mom and Dad, Kerry, Alison, brothers-in-law, niece and nephews, we miss you and love you and we’re having fun.
I was shooting some photos this afternoon on my way home and stopped at an ATM. Everything around here runs on cash. You can use a debit card, but cash is much easier. Much, much easier. The ATM vestibule was full of people and security guards – no worries, security is a huge industry here – so I took my camera outside. I aimed in this child’s direction, not at him, but past him. He seemed curious, so I nodded at his mother and she smiled. I took that to mean that I could take a photo.
He smiled a minute later, but I’d already taken the shot.
I love this place.
I’m three weeks away from leaving the country. Three weeks less a day, actually. It seems a little surreal, actually, that I will no longer drive home past this.
There were two inspirations for this: one, this is what home looks like. I love where I live and I don’t want to forget it. Two, we said good-bye to my wife’s family this last weekend and my brother-in-law paid me a great compliment – he said, “I miss your photos.” That’s it, but I love approval, so…thanks Ryan. I appreciate the nice words.
Oh, and for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about when I write “leaving the country”, I’m moving to Jakarta, Indonesia for two years. My whole family is. Cool, but it’s getting really close now.
…and whatever comes at you.
We’re packing up and getting ready to go in a month and a bit. There is another garage sale coming soon – two weeks? – and too many decisions about what to keep, what to store, and what to transport.
If you have an eight year old son like I do, you’d have to figure out a way to transport some of the massive collection of Lego we’ve accrued over the last five years. I can tell you that this will be the hardest decision we have to make. How much to take. Which pieces to take. Which minifigures to bring along and which to abandon to the storage locker.
Hmm…Lego has never been such a stressful thing.
I know it was Mother’s Day today, but I saw this Father/Son duo and couldn’t help but snap the photo.
My son and I went for a hike Monday and we had a great little walk and talk. I have to admit that I’m more out of shape than I’d like to be, but I am working on it.
My son, however, kept telling me how tired he was, but spent the entire hike swinging a stick at everything and taking three steps for every one of mine. He exerted himself far more than I did and then came home to jump on the trampoline. I came home and sat down on the couch.
The photo above is him checking out our local cedars. They’re always beautiful and smell so great. He was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their height.
This was what my daughter wanted for her birthday cake. She and I have been cooking together for a long time. She is turning eleven in a couple of days and since she was old enough to help, she’s been my assistant in the kitchen. I had her smelling spices and stirring batter and cracking eggs at age three.
So when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday cake, I should have expected her to say something like this. What I wasn’t expecting was how long it would take to make it. It was worth it, though. It might be the best “birthday cake” I’ve ever made.
I realize this is not my best photo ever posted, but it certainly is one of the tastiest.
Do you still wash your pots and pans, maybe even dishes, by hand? I seem to have some kind of block in my head when it comes to the dishwasher. I don’t like to put my pots and frying pans in there. I have this idea in my head that it doesn’t do as good a job as I do. Plus, I learned something last night.
After making dinner, I moved the pots and frying pan to the side of the sink and ran a sink of warm/hot water, dropped a bit of soap in and then washed the dishes. And I enjoyed it.
When I was young, we didn’t have a dishwasher, so there was no choice about how to was the dishes. My mom did most of the washing, but when were deemed old enough my sister and I started washing the dishes on a regular basis. We fought over who would wash and who would dry. I hated washing back then, but I love it now. In fact, I look back on that time pretty fondly. Stupid, I know, but nostalgia fogs the mind.