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Indonesian escapade

This Sunday, I head for Indonesia with four others. We are part of a delegation from Australia participating in an exchange program arranged by those fabulous folk at the Australia-Indonesia Institute.
It is funded by that awesome bunch of people known as Australian taxpayers. Thanks to you all!
I realise Sydney shock jocks and some paranoid op-ed writers don’t have much to talk and write about these days. There aren’t too many race riots now, and no non-Muslim lives (as if life has a religion!) have been lost in terror attacks. (Plus it sounds a bit stupid trying to make a bus accident in Egypt sound like a terrorist attack.)
So I might as well give these guys (most women aren’t stupid enough to be shock jocks or monocultural pundits) some juice. I’ll save them the effort by making it sound as sensational as possible.
The trip I am going on is … wait for it … are you ready? … a Muslim Exchange Program! It’s being organised by those nasty radical seminaries known as the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. Terrorist sources say we’ll be attending a number of radical seminaries and sheiks in Jakarta, Jogyakarta and Bandung.
In Singapore, terror expert (or should that be sexpert? He tends to “sex” things up a little most of the time) Dr Rohan Gunaratna already knows what we will be talking about with our Indonesian associates. He’ll have his special sources and a few secret listening devices ready to confirm his speculations.
(Plus, when Aussie and Indonesian terrorists meet in Java, they always speak Sinhalese just for his benefit! Though we tend to just repeat “jihad, jihad, jerka, jerka”.)
Meanwhile in Australia, the broadsheet terror pundits already have a few clichés ready to throw at us for their next columns. Paul Sheehan will accuse us of being part of the reprisal attacks. The twin tabloid musketeers from the big cities, Uncles Piers and Andrew, are probably salivating over which radical cleric to link us to.
Even Peter Debnam is getting ready to blame the police for not arresting us already given our well-established links to Sheik Marie Bashir.
Or should that be Abu Bakar Bashir? Who cares! They all look and sound the bloody same in Cronulla and Maroubra! And it should generate more headlines than that other thing about the police and those Arab crooks…
Anyway, getting back to reality. By the time this thing gets published, I will probably have arrived at Jakarta airport.
I’m not sure of what to expect in Indonesia. I’ve never actually been there. I also can’t speak the lingo (called “Bahasa Indonesia” roughly translated as Indonesian lingo). A former girlfriend who speaks it fluently gave me a two hour crash course in the language. I’m pretty sure I failed.
I don’t know a huge amount about that part of the world. I do know something about its history, and I certainly know enough to write about how terrorism can hurt entire communities.
I have a few Indonesian friends at uni, mainly overseas students. I go fishing with an Indonesian mate who lives down the road. Up until recently, I was spending a lot of emotional energy on a wonderful lass whose mum apparently speaks fluent Indonesian. Or was that Malay? Who gives a nasi gorang!
I guess by now, you will get the picture. I’m not exactly an authority on all things Indonesian. Well, apart from satays and peanut sauce.
Accompanying me on the delegation will be a Victorian copper who wears a hijab. If she ever gets seconded to NSW, I hope they don’t ever send her to Cronulla Police Station. Presuming, of course, Uncle Morris will give the go ahead for a Cronulla Police Station! Otherwise, I hope she’ll start trying directing the traffic in Jakarta, which we have been told is bloody horrendous.
Apart from my copper colleague, I’ll also be joined by a civil engineer, a lawyer and a uni student. Thankfully, two people in our delegation can speak Bahasa. So I won’t have to ring up my ex every five minutes for another crash course.
We are spending time in Jakarta, Jogyakarta and Bandung. Apparently Jogya is a fairly laid back place full of students, artists and other fairly funky types. It is the heartland of Indonesian tertiary education, and is full of universities and colleges. The food is cheap, the people are friendly and neither Abu Bakar nor Professor Marie are anywhere in sight.
Bandung is apparently located near a volcano. The Tangkuban Perahu is just one of these temperamental mountains, and the area apparently has more hot springs than Rotarua.
Anyway, I’d better go and pack. I promise I’ll tell you dudes and dudettes more. I think you’ve earned it. Especially since I’m spending your money!
Selamat Seeyanextime.
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