Sunday, September 2, 2007

So long...

I'm back in NY. As it turned out, Lembongan was quite isolated - or at least it was crazy expensive to get Internet access. Thus the sudden stop in posting.

While Manhattan is smaller than Bali, it's not what I would call a "little" island, which is another way of saying that my weblog is now closed. I'll keep it out here so that some of my pics are easily available.

Thanks to my mom and dad for always checking this out.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Not *Completely* Isolated

So I'm back for a day in Bali to get survey photocopies and other sundries. I'm taking the chance to say that even though Internet access is scarce and expensive... there is satellite TV! Which means after we met one of the banjar (subvillages) in the morning, I went to one of the hotels and...

watched the Argentina - USA match! Or at least the best part of it (I got there about five minutes before Crespo's second goal).

So yay! For the things that truly matter, I can count on globalization to deliver. Argentina 4 - USA 1.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We finally got started!

Wow, what a week. On the business side (business first!) the survey started on Monday, but we went to Nusa Lembongan before that, to join a village meeting and inform local people that we would be asking lots of questions of lots of people. We had previously met with the "official" (civil) government of the village, but it was important to check with the traditional/tribal (adat) organizations too.

It was actually hard to organize these meetings, since a very important Balinese celebration, Galungan, is coming up. I'll write a separate post for it - to be posted after it actually takes place - but it's the most important ceremony, and takes place twice a year. It involves the gods visiting Bali for a week, which means villages must be cleaned, and lots of ceremonies will be taking place over the first three days. Preparations have been ongoing since a couple of weeks ago.

There were some problems with the survey, as I guess was to be expected. But I'm sooooooooooo glad this is actually starting. The surveyors (there are nine of them, but only eight could start this week) are getting along really well, and the atmosphere in the house we're renting (part of a larger Balinese family "complex") is relaxed.

Speaking of the house, the first four days there was a wedding party in the house. As I mentioned before, it looks strange to this Westerner that people mostly sit down in one place - there's no mingling, no walking around, obviously no dancing - so there's no much to photograph. Now, there did happen to be something worth documenting:

This turtle was left to die slowly until the third day, when it was slaughtered and used for some traditional dish (I didn't find out which one, but there are several). I know I'm ethnocentric and whatnot, but this kind of broke my heart. And I must admit it kind of gave me a new insight into vegetarianism.

Ok, long post (compensating for a dearth of posts before this).

Low Tide

We got to Jungutbatu (one of the villages in Nusa Lembongan) loaded with boxes (carrying surveys, consent forms, etc, etc). So of course, what happened? The tide was low.

And when I say low, I mean *really* low. Normally, the tide is like this

But when we got there, we saw this

I had never seen it this way, since I had never been there during the new moon. We walked on the reef to the shore, through seaweed plots. Pretty amazing but I hope I'll never do that again! Some of my photos are in my Facebook Album.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I have seen it all

OK, so after some bumps on the road the survey will most likely be up and running by Monday. Which means that I will have pretty much no Internet access for about 10 days (we will have one long work week, because there are a couple of really long Balinese festivities coming up - more on that after my return).

But I wanted to share with you my feeling that nothing more will ever surprise me. I discovered the craziest thing today.

The New York City Police Department recruits in Facebook!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Culture Shock - Past the Honeymoon Phase

What is Culture Shock, you ask? I'm willing to bet we're all pretty familiar with it...

Wikipedia dixit

Culture shock is a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not. Often this is combined with strong disgust (moral or aesthetical) about certain aspects of the new or different culture.

Basically, the first stage (which can last any period of time and is called the "Honeymoon" phase) is characterized by loving every new thing you see in the new place (see: my blog). After a while comes the second phase

A person may encounter some difficult times and crises in daily life. For example, communication difficulties may occur such as not being understood. In this stage, there may be feelings of discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and feeling incompetence. This happens when a person is trying to adapt to a new culture that is very different from the culture of origin. Transition between the old methods and those of the new country is a difficult process and takes time to complete. During the transition, there can be strong feelings of dissatisfaction.

Which is pretty much where I've been for the past week (before that I was in Switzerland for 10 days).

Currently, what I'm struggling with is the tendency for "yes" to mean "quite possibly no, but I don't want to be rude and say it out loud, so I will wait until the moment when a backup plan is unfeasible and just fail to do what I said could be done, without ever acknowledging that things could have been otherwise, and just blandly apologize".

I guess this is one big reason why I haven't posted in a while --- I'm trying to figure out how to know whether my planned schedule will actually lead to something without breaking protocol (since politeness here is paramount). That, and my baby brother's reluctance to share his Switzerland pictures with me... That's an adventure I'll blog about in a few days.

Come to think about it, it just may be that going from the Swiss way of doing things (a plan is a plan is a plan, even if a snowstorm wants to get in the way: see for yourself), to the Balinese (a plan for the next three months is cute! Did you actually mean to do that? Even what is planned for tomorrow? But that can't be done without three weeks notice to each of 15 different organizations! What do you mean you mentioned this two months ago?) is a bit too much to handle 1.

I just want Buenos Aires!

1: These assertions should be taken in the spirit they were intended. No actual cultures were harmed in the making of this post. I love the Swiss AND the Balinese, despite my knee and my current frustrations.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to Know You're Homesick

I saw a guy wearing a Boca Juniors jersey today... and I smiled!