The Retreat by J. Eijkelboom

Sep 15th, 2011, in History, by

Jan Eijkelboom was trained in England to 'fight against the Japs' but, as it happened, he was drafted to fight in the Indies when the Japanese had long gone. He arrived in Java in the middle of 1947 and served there as a sergeant for 2 1/2 years. In later life he functioned, inter alia, as editor of the renowned/notorious Amsterdam student paper "Propria Cures" and the leftist weekly "Vrij Nederland". Apart from his journalistic activities he has published about half a dozen bundles of poetry. I have translated here his 'short' story "The Retreat" ("De Terugtocht") that was first published in 1953 in the literary magazine "Libertinage". It is rather a long "short story" and this is only the first part. Two or three more are to follow.


'The Retreat' by J. Eijkelboom

‘Aye, there's something in writing 's like armour to the feelings.’

- Trader Horn

To talk about the impression that Soemiati made on me, the first time I saw her, I have to try and remember something of the house and its other inhabitants. When one uses the word brothel one thinks of a somewhat shabby luxury: flowery wallpaper, threadbare silk, mirrors with frames of which the gilding starts to loosen. There it was a bamboo house, the floor was of rammed down loam and the only light came from an oil lamp made from an Army tin.

The brothel madam was a shrunken old hag, but her ugliness was different from that of her European colleagues: she was repellent without inducing respect. After having greeted us with a shrill voice like that of a bird, she limited herself to looking at us with her small eyes of a witch that has served her time above a mouth opened in a wide grin. In her upper jaw she still had one gigantic dirty white tooth that, misled by the scanty light, I took at first to be a cigarette butt sticking to her lip.

She did not negotiate. Perhaps that was also because we were whites, moreover soldiers, against whom she couldn’t do anything anyway. On a bench were seated four or five shyly giggling girls who had their arms around each other’s neck. On the opposite wall from them there was a row of low doors giving access to as many little rooms. My companion disappeared into one of them with the girl he had pointed at and who was then pushed forward by the others. I didn’t find any of the remaining girls attractive so I tried to start a conversation. At that moment Soemiati appeared from one of those little rooms. She looked already different from the girls on the bench because she was wearing a dress instead of a sarong and had her hair loosely hanging over her shoulders, but even more so I was struck by her lively sparkling eyes. She looked curiously at me, without fear but without gauging me.

It seemed, even in this environment, improper to separate myself with her without further ado, but before I had said anything she invited me herself to enter her room.
Some weeks before that I had started to court a Eurasian girl whom I had met at the house of the army chaplain. I sometimes came there to play a game of chess and she was often there because she had been given the role of Mary in a nativity play for which the chaplain had taken the initiative. I had offered my cooperation and got, perhaps out of respect for my atheism (because that chaplain was a liberal chap) the role of Herod.

But the girl turned out to be unapproachable. She was too conscious of the fact that she was not a ‘native’ to even be amiable. I would of course have been able to get her down on her beautiful knees by all kinds of attentions, entreaties and adjurations, so I thought, but I decided pretty quickly to find my pleasures somewhere else. For the rest I discovered later that the girl concerned had had since long an affair with the chaplain.

So it was the consideration that paying is so much more hygienic than conversation that had brought me Soemiati; but I immediately felt my deficient command of her language to be an obstacle. I couldn’t do much more than asking for her name and saying that I found her beautiful. She seemed, as a matter of fact, to find this quite sufficient for that initial stage.

She took her dress off and put it neatly over the back of a chair. This energetic approach did not make a businesslike impression though it wasn’t an expression of passion either. She was quite skilful in the game of love but, again, there was nothing in this skill that seemed like routine, but also very little that looked like rapture. It is conspicuous to me that I am continuously trying to suggest how she was by stating how she was not. I believe that nothing is so difficult to define as that what appears to one to be the simplest thing

Later, when I was lying beside her, talking went much better. To amuse her I told her of my mistake about that one tooth of that old woman. When she understood my story her merriment was so noisy that it became painful; she was drawing out her screams of laughter like a prostitute. But under the light of the small kerosene lamp that was placed on a shelf above our heads her skin had the bronze colour of a beach that is still moist after low tide. I told her that I had no money with me but that I would bring it to her next day. I don’t think that she was disappointed; she gave at any case no sign of it.

The next morning, when I brought her an amount of money already that had to surpass her expectations, she neither hid nor exaggerated her joy at this. Somebody else of her sort would surely have found it necessary to use either of those tactics. She was too artless and intelligent for that. I am sure of this because I can still clearly recall the expression of her face at that moment. I can now read in this what then hardly penetrated to me, because I didn’t think about things at that time.

Almost every day then I had to accompany a convoy, with my section of bren gun carriers, over a road in which there were most of the time a few mines; there were often also aerial bombs that the enemy brought to explosion with the help of a long rope. Further more there were sometimes grenades in the trees hung from a pulley rope that could be lowered when there was a vehicle underneath. The methods were primitive but effective enough to make of such a trip with a convoy a nerve racking experience.

The tension was so great that most of us lived in a strange, unreal atmosphere when there was no driving. The relief to have got off scot-free that day and the fear for the next day made me too restless and preoccupied. That is perhaps why I can remember so little of Soemiati in that time; between the few sharp images I have retained of it are blank periods of indefinite duration. I still know that on the road I could sometimes be fiercely longing for her but she was then above all the symbol of a safe arrival.

One of those homecomings is still clear in my mind. At the convoy ride that day a bomb was detonated right in front of my carrier. The driver couldn’t brake any more and the carrier slipped into the hole that the bomb had created. Stones and lumps of clay that had been thrown vertically into the air fell back on us. The three other people in the carrier got of with some bruises; only I got a light head wound.

After a medic had cut some hair from the middle of my skull and sprinkled some penicillin powder there we could go on. When Soemiati saw me that night she got straight away into convulsions of laughter. It took a while before I understood that her merriment was caused by my irregular tonsure. I tried to laugh with her but it was only half-heartedly. I started to report what had happened but Soemiati was obviously not interested.

“What would you have thought if I had been killed?”

I finally asked.
She looked at me incredulously and then shouted:

“But that is not possible, is it?”

“Why not? I can die just like anybody else, can’t I?”

“No you can’t!”

she answered impatiently.

“But I can. Of course I can.”

“You can’t, you can’t”

she repeated stubbornly.
I went on, patiently and cruelly and somewhat amazed, with explaining to her that quite a few people of my company had already been wounded or killed and that the same could happen to me any day.

She repeated her blind protest a few times, but increasingly more weakly. Finally she shouted with a voice half strangled by tears:

“Good, it can happen perhaps, but it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t …”

With a wild movement she hid at my breast, but at the same time she was hitting my back with her small fists. I pulled her head back and kissed her reluctant mouth.

Her lips soon became passive however, but before she could become willing she pulled her head back to wipe the tears from her eyes and blow her nose. Then she looked smilingly at me, in a manner that suggested that I had entered the room just a minute ago. She had felt uneasy during the conversation that had just taken place, and thus that conversation simply never happened.

I was certainly in love with Soemiati but not enough to be preoccupied with her. Otherwise why didn’t I try to get to know a bit more about her past? She was herself also very vague on this point but more from a lack of interest, so it seemed to me, than because the memory of her youth was repellent to her or because she had to hide something (when I think of what happened later I am no longer so sure about this). She had been married off in her tenth or eleventh year when “she still had no breasts”. A few years later she had run away because she was beaten every day. After that she had married and divorced two or three times more. She hadn’t been able to obtain a separation letter from her last husband, because he wasn’t willing to spend a "rijksdaalder"on that. When she told this latter bit her eyes still sparkled with rage, but the rest was told in an indifferent matter-of-fact voice.

I can’t remember how long it took before I took care to get her a house in a less impoverished kampong. In our soldiers’ world that was a sort of marriage announcement; with that I made it known that henceforward others had to leave her alone. This did not mean that others would not pester her. A certain category of soldiers made it their business to go after women who were maintained by others; they assumed, not without logic, that such women would be “safe”. Soon enough soldiers were spotted near Soemiati’s house during my absence. I redoubled my vigilance.

I approached her house each time from a different direction, which was made possible by the chaotic way in which the kampong had been built. I also came there at the most unexpected moments, one time even in the depth of a moonless night when the house was no more than a faded spot on the velvet dark. I believe that it is still possible to report what happened on that occasion.

When I knocked she asked in a sleepy voice who it was. Without answering I knocked again. I heard creaking and rustling inside; it sounded so loud in the silence of the night that my suspicions were immediately increased tenfold. I forced the bolt with the butt of my carbine and pushed the door in with my shoulder at the same time. She stood there in front of me, fearful and all at once clearly awake. “What is it?” she asked nervously. –

“Nothing”, I said briefly; I was ashamed of my rash behaviour but did not know at that moment how to apologise for it.

Her mouth tightened into a straight stripe of rage. She put a bowl with fruit for me on the table with a thud, fulfilling her duty as hostess to clearly underline my rudeness, and then disappeared into the adjoining bedroom stamping her feet. I went after her but remained standing in the door opening. She had thrown herself headlong on the baleh-baleh. After a few minutes I bent over her and touched her shoulder, but she shook off my hand as if it were an insect that had bitten her.

I went back to the other room and started to automatically peel a jeruk. A while later she called asking whether I had cigarettes with me. This did not necessarily signify reconciliation because she was addicted to smoking. I went to her, gave her a cigarette and helped her to light it, letting the matchbox drop on the floor. When I picked it up I had a quick look under the baleh-baleh; there was nothing to be seen there.

A few hours later, when we had long since made up, I could not refrain however from asking her why she already intended to open the door before she knew who was actually there.

“I could have been somebody from the tentara to murder you,”

I added to this; it was a thought that only came to me that very moment and that served more as an apology for my bad behaviour than as an expression of my care. She shook her shoulders and did not react any further and I was finally wise enough to leave it at that.

The rumours became however more and more definite. They were finally so pertinent that when I visited Soemiati next I started to make violent reproaches. Her defence was no less violent than my accusation though she certainly must have been sometimes unfaithful during that first period. She no doubt found in her defence against my dramatics, that made of her offence a crime, the means to convince herself of her complete innocence.

It became a scene full of stupid malice, followed by a feeling of infinite repugnance. Soemiati was sitting in the low chair in which I had pushed her when I came in. The real quarrel was finished but the poisonous atmosphere remained behind. I picked up my carbine and wanted to go but first, I don’t know why, I pushed the kerosene lamp to the edge of the table, thus bringing Soermiati’s face from the shade into the full light.

She stared at me with panic fear in her widely dilated eyes, and directly after this she threw herself in one movement at my feet. I stood rigid with fright. I only understood what caused her sudden fear when it finally dawned on me that she was begging for her life: she thought that I was planning to kill her. I flung the carbine into the furthest corner and carried her in my arms to the other room. It took a long time before she calmed down but during that night a tenderness entered into our relation that has made it more valuable and vulnerable.


See Part 2


87 Comments on “The Retreat by J. Eijkelboom”

  1. avatar Oigal says:

    To be fair, I would be fibbing if I suggested I had never been burnt but its still more fun being a hopeless romantic. Stevo, let it go, no one is talking about you.

  2. avatar stevo says:

    Ditto Oigal. 🙂

  3. avatar Lairedion says:

    Stevo, it was never my intention to get under your skin. I’m sorry it did happen anyway. Indeed, let it go. And no worries, when it’s time to retire I will retreat into the Minahasa hinterland, pulang ke kampung halaman.

    I just disagree with the view of Jan Eijkelboom being just another expat getting involved with local hookers in the way it happens in many bars across the nation. I confess I’m somewhat pulling BB’s leg but I agree with his view of those particular bule’s in Blok M bars being silly. That said the Blok M metaphor reminds me of Ross’s Jl. Jaksa/Jl. Falatehan references. By using these cliches the image of the bule expat seeking hookers is, perhaps unintentionally, being kept alive.

  4. avatar bonni says:

    I agree with Deta…

    Soemiati was no way on the same platform to compare with nowadays’ Indo girls (all other things being held constant).

  5. avatar deta says:

    Yes Bonni, at present Indo girls do not have to worry about losing their life when they’re dating an expat……. or so I thought 🙂

  6. avatar bonni says:

    Deta,

    Infact, it’s a lot of fun… 😀 Oops… Do I sound like another ‘slut’?? 😛

  7. avatar deta says:

    I don’t know Bonni. Before I call someone slut I have to be sure that I’am not one myself. Kinda hard 🙂

  8. avatar berlian biru says:

    Perhaps BB can relate to the story in a certain way, hence my question to him.

    Yes, I did relate to it, I made it perfectly clear how I related to it but you still have problems understanding it which I find rather odd.

    I’ve seen blokes get involved with working girls and then get their heads mixed up when it didn’t work out. I’m not the only one to have witnessed this but you still seem to be implying some other weird stuff which I have to admit I don’t fully understand.

    Perhaps if you phrased your question in plainer terms I could help you out, otherwise you’ll just have to read what I’ve written, it seemed clear enough to me. Others seemed to comprehend what I wrote easily enough.

  9. avatar berlian biru says:

    off

  10. avatar berlian biru says:

    Damn I’ve left the italics jar open and they’re all over the place

  11. avatar bonni says:

    Wow, Deta…

    It seems the girls in IM like to do the face-slapping… 😀

    Well, I can only say… Where there is sugar, there are ants… 😉

  12. avatar bonni says:

    Easy there, BB… Inhale… Exhale… Breath in… Breath out…

  13. avatar Lairedion says:

    OK BB, with the risk of jeopardizing this thread.

    The point is you are making those generalizations like “Oh I’ve seen it all before, just another expat (Eijkelboom was drafted as a soldier) having a go with some local hooker.”

    Now why is that? Is this the only perspective you can imagine or can you relate to this story because it reads like an autobiography?

  14. avatar stevo says:

    Others seemed to comprehend what I wrote easily enough.

    Your not alone. There are a couple of regulars here who constantly fail to grasp the central point or essence of what is being said. They see some postings as an unrelated series of individual sentences. The concept of context is clearly beyond them. They then use their lack of comprehension as tool to set up a strawman parody, which they then get all shrill about.

    What they don’t do is address what is actually being said.
    Its ok to do this for a stir, now and again, but its reaching ridiculous proportions.

    Regards,
    Stevo ( the misogynistic rape enabling racist who shoots kids for sport.)

  15. avatar berlian biru says:

    Oh I see now, Lairedion, I make a comment about the key part of the story up to that point, ie the jealous insecurities of a young man and the prostitute with whom he has started a relationship, and you, like a sniggering little schoolboy who overhears the grown ups discussing sex, start making puerile innuendos.

    Got it.

    Ever see the Monty Python sketch about the two blokes in the pub where one of them is determinedly making smutty, immature allusions to sex? “Know what I mean? Eh? Nudge nudge. Wink wink” (I now see you even included the winks in your posts for emphasis).

    Check it out, you might recognise yourself.

    Say no more squire.

  16. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Heavens above, there’s an awful lot of twitchy, cranky people posting here today

    BB, who is being twitchy and cranky now?

    Your comments were understood well enough but didn’t seem very relevant to this particular story. Here were two young people (E. was in fact younger than Soemiati as we are told at the end – which is not the usual bule-hooker pattern) belonging to opposite sides in a war situation, who nevertheless forged a relationship of some sort, that was destroyed largely (though not exclusively) by the “force of circumstance” – not by the inability of a hooker to give up her trade or by the shattering of a bule’s delusion that he had been able to buy love. To pick out the jealous insecurities of that young man and the average bule-hooker scenario as the overriding theme of your comments hardly did justice to what we were being told there – even if one only looked at the first part.

    So if you saw in the story less than what was actually there you seem to have noticed in Lairedion’s comments more than what can be found there. I, for one, failed to see any “sniggering puerile innuendos”.

  17. avatar Arie Brand says:

    And by “the force of circumstance” I mean of course in the first place the Dutch retreat from Indonesia.

  18. avatar Oigal says:

    I guess it’s all about perception and terms of reference, still think it’s kind of sad and blinkered that the best some could see in the story was just another sex in Asia story. I must confess I find these kind of recollections fascinating.

  19. avatar bonni says:

    Stevo ( the misogynistic rape enabling racist who shoots kids for sport.)

    Hahahahhahahahahhahahhhh bonni LIKES THIS (thumbs up) 😀

  20. avatar agan says:

    Now why is that? Is this the only perspective you can imagine or can you relate to this story because it reads like an autobiography?

    Truth be told many of us are either Eykbooms or soemiatis by raw definition when we were on the low down and sell our soul to the devil or as Stevos once said it “eating too much goat satay”.

  21. avatar bonni says:

    BB,

    Same as Arie, I do understand your comments, but I don’t think it’s relevant to this story…

    As Stevo said, it’s like reading Dating Indonesian Girls thread…

    Recollections are interesting, as Oigal find it fascinating, but in this case I think it’s not so relevant…

    Anyway, I don’t get how expat still fall for ‘sluts’… I categorize ‘sluts’ here as 2 (LOL), first, she who earns money by being a ‘prostitute’ probably in a brothel (like Soemiati) or just standing there waiting for people picking them up. And the second, she who lives her life like a ‘prostitute’ but not doing it as a ‘job’. Why is it still happening to some expats? Is it that “they already know they are trapped but they keep on going because of their needs” or is it “they are so naive that they don’t realise their situation so they keep on going fighting for love” or is it purely “the power of love”?

  22. avatar ET says:

    This blog is getting a taste of sour grapes. Personal dislikes, past insults from other threads and political incompatibilities are sneaking through almost all comments, obscuring every possibility for an interesting exchange of views. Not to mention petty irrelevant remarks from some who only take part here to make their presence felt.
    IM has known better times.

    This been said I concur with Berlian Biru’s stance about the underlying similarities between tales of present expat/hooker relationships and the outcome of past wartime brothel antics. The circumstances and timing may be completely different, human relations – especially when passion and jealousy are involved – show a remarkable degree of recognizability and predictability, irrespective of place and time. Literature from all ages is there to prove it. This is certainly the case when one partner makes a living – by choice or not – from a trade where emotions and economics are per se in a theatrical state of blur. Not to mention the physical repugnance that may be induced by imagining ones object of love and desire while she is at ‘work’. In most of these cases it’s the other party, being constantly in doubt about what goes on in his absence, who loves and suffers. Not a healthy base for an emotionally rewarding relationship, if you ask me.

    Some years ago a similar case was developing here in the Dating Indonesian Girls thread, featuring a young Australian tourist in Bali who fell in love with a Javanese prostitute who was also older than him. The poor guy was totally c*nt struck and overcome by jealousy and pain every time he imagined the woman he had fallen in love with in the arms of some old pervert. In the end she became pregnant – admittedly his child by her account – and he became a muslim and married her. Then he disappeared from the IM screen.

    Doubt and suspicion are almost inevitably jeopardizing client/sex worker romantic relationships, the more so when it concerns people who are still sexually active. In the story here at hand, even when Soemiati visits her family in Surabaya (part 2 of the story) Jan Eijkelboom is also overcome by suspicion that her brother might in fact be something else than a mere sibling.

  23. avatar David says:

    Well ET sort of flattered that some people give the site the time or thought involved there, the fact that some people have been around here for years is some sort of testament, but yes things have dropped off and I’m mainly at fault for not posting often.

    I do agree with you on the whole, I have considered shutting off the comments entirely, wholesale banning, selective banning, but well, some people need to relax, don’t take stuff so seriously, stop making these tedious in references to people from years ago or on other threads, don’t be snarky, get over their obsessions, stop interrorgating people they disagree with, take off their mental straitjackets when they enter the door, etc. I don’t give my own personal opinions on the site for a few reasons but one is it would be just too much trouble, I have firmly and robustly right of centre views that shock even myself sometimes and people here would go into fits of apoplexy.

    As for BB’s comment – fair enough and I agree with him, the story did remind me of some people I know. Big deal.

  24. avatar ET says:

    Thanks for your reaction, David.

  25. avatar Lairedion says:

    Mmm, that’s an odd comment, David.

    Lately I’ve been re-reading some of the older threads on IM and to see what some of the pseudo-Indonesians could afford to say under the banner of humor and being funny I think this thread is fairly civilized. The relatively free atmosphere without too ambitious moderating has attracted me to this site in the first place.

    Yup, I have my contribution and am not ashamed of it but some people should be more honest looking into their own past on this site before preaching the gospel of good manners and behaviour.

    As for BB’s comment I disagree with the stereotyping and simplified view of such relationships. I don’t see a problem with that.

  26. avatar bonni says:

    Hi ET,

    This blog is getting a taste of sour grapes. Personal dislikes, past insults from other threads and political incompatibilities are sneaking through almost all comments, obscuring every possibility for an interesting exchange of views. Not to mention petty irrelevant remarks from some who only take part here to make their presence felt.
    IM has known better times.

    I’m new here… So far I personally feel the presence of Stevo dominating. Maybe because I often exchanging comments with him.

    Stevo 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉

    Some years ago a similar case was developing here in the Dating Indonesian Girls thread, featuring a young Australian tourist in Bali who fell in love with a Javanese prostitute who was also older than him. The poor guy was totally c*nt struck and overcome by jealousy and pain every time he imagined the woman he had fallen in love with in the arms of some old pervert. In the end she became pregnant – admittedly his child by her account – and he became a muslim and married her. Then he disappeared from the IM screen.

    I read that one. That’s why I was wondering why is it still happening? I mean, how in the world would it happens all the time… Then BB came with that tales…

    David,

    As for BB’s comment – fair enough and I agree with him, the story did remind me of some people I know. Big deal.

    Yeah… Big deal… 😀

  27. avatar Arie Brand says:

    This been said I concur with Berlian Biru’s stance about the underlying similarities between tales of present expat/hooker relationships and the outcome of past wartime brothel antics. The circumstances and timing may be completely different, human relations – especially when passion and jealousy are involved – show a remarkable degree of recognizability and predictability, irrespective of place and time. Literature from all ages is there to prove it.

    ET, many years ago, as a student, I read, in Dutch, Denis de Rougemont’s classic work”l’Amour et l’Occident” translated in English under various titles (Love and the Western World, Passion and Society). You might know it.

    It is difficult to summarize De Rougemont’s work in a few lines but I will have a go at it. His theme is the obsession in Western society with “romantic love” – the kind of love that doesn’t thrive on fulfillment (in humdrum marriage) but on impossibilities, obstacles, illicit affairs, the love that often ends in the death of one of the partners. The theme can be found in literature as well as in popular movies (one of the most popular, “Titanic” has as its theme, if I remember well, the love between an engaged upper class young lady and Jack, a working class young artist, and as we know it ends in the death of Jack – that whole bloody big ship had to be destroyed to heighten the drama for us).

    De Rougemont finds the origin of this obsession in the poetry of the provencal troubadours with its emphasis on courtly love, the love for somebody else’s lady, that could and should not be consummated in marriage (the end of romance). Many of these troubadours, he argues, were influenced by the Cathar heresy that held that the material world was inherently evil, that the soul was entrapped in the body by a false God, a demiurge, and that it could only be united with the love of God in death. It is well known that the official church destroyed this ‘heresy’ in the Albigensian crusade, an example of medieval genocide. Cathar themes could not be openly canvassed in troubadour poetry and were transmuted into the language of courtly love. This poetry became influential beyond its region of origin through the marriage of a French princess, who was much influenced by it, to an English king – I have forgotten the precise details. It has subsequently led to a dominant theme in European literature.

    I don’t think that De Rougemont’s thesis has been accepted by ‘mainstream scholarship’ but that is hardly to the point here. I was quite impressed by it, for two main reasons. First because my reading, such as it was then, and the things I saw around me convinced me that De Rougemont’s characterization of romance as thriving on obstacles, things that keep the lovers apart and, ultimately, death was pretty close to the bone. Second, I was fascinated by the view that a certain idea could, apart from its material foundation and social/historical anchorage, start to play such an important role as a sort of loose cannon.

    But that too is not to the point here.

    What is relevant here is this: Once I was convinced by Rougemont’s thesis I could have dismissed a great deal of European literature in advance, as it were -Tristan and Isolde plus its Wagnerian elaboration, Romeo and Juliet, or the classic tales of adultery: Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary (to limit myself to those examples), I could have dismissed them with the cry: Big deal, all tales of impossible, romantic love (which they are). Nevertheless I kept reading, novels with this theme are still being written, and some of them are actually interesting.

    So it is not just the theme itself but its particular setting that evokes our interest. To dismiss Eijkelboom’s tale as just another case of brothel antics, of bule-hooker relationships, is to forego a rather interesting account of the theme under particular circumstances, at a particular time and place.

  28. avatar Arie Brand says:

    It is fascinating to read these stories

    As for BB’s comment – fair enough and I agree with him, the story did remind me of some people I know. Big deal.
    Reply

    David, both these statements are yours. Am I wrong in assuming that what you found “fascinating” in Eijkelboom’s story were the differences with the cases you knew rather than the similarity?

  29. avatar David says:

    I dunno, does it matter? The historical setting helps in the fascination department though.

  30. avatar berlian biru says:

    Curious how comments I made were deemed “irrelevant”, yet curiously those comments are precisely the comments that other people either agreed with or disagreed with in the posting section.

    Therefore they are, ipso facto, “relevant” otherwise they would have been ignored. If I had mentioned how Carrefour was doing a special on Indomie noodles, buy two get one free, that would have been irrelevant and no one would have bothered to engage me in discussion. The fact that many posters did choose to engage me, including Lairedion with his schoolboy innuendos, shows that -agree or disagree- my comments touched a chord.

    People need to understand there is a huge gulf between disagreeing with someone’s comments and deeming those comments “irrelevant”. Relevance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, not handed down from on high by comment-thread policemen. If a comment engages lively discussion then by definition it means that other members find them “relevant”.

    That said I am beginning to find a dreary cliquishness forming here, as ET so rightly says a certain number of posters have made up their minds about other posters based entirely on previous discussions and have no desire to engage in meaningful discussions but prefer to engage in spiteful little catfights.

    The culprits know who they are and need to knock it off before this blog turns into that other expat blog that was childish in the extreme.

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