Garuda, the mythical bird, is a golden eagle. It represents creative energy. While observing the world upside down, we saw it as a white eagle. It also represents energy, although a different sort, but equally unbridled. On the flag of Indonesia (which looks like the Polish flag with the colors reversed) the top color represents the color of human flesh. The bottom color is the color of the soul. Contrary to popular belief, it is different than the flag of Monaco. It is over 800 years old and was introduced as the flag of the Indonesian nation on 17 August 1945. Since then, the walls of houses, sides of ships and fences bear large inscriptions reading “One Nation,” most often flesh-colored, in red. The days of the first half of August are frantic. The Achinese, the Batak, the Javanese, the Buginese people, and the Sundanese have their hands full. Structures made of concrete or bamboo are being built, according to the principle of symmetry, on large, small, and even teeny-tiny streets.
The date of the birth of the nation is placed on the left, and the current year, counting down to the big day – on the right. The round anniversaries that end each decade are celebrated with even more pomp. Ordinary people, dressed in colors of the flesh and soul, disciplined like a group of conscripts, walk the few asphalt streets and practice an even military march. Despite the heat and the strain of the military drill, white and joyful smiles light up their faces.Teachers bustle about feverishly in order to chase the crowd away as quickly as possible, for drivers are impatient to see them disappear. They go back and forth, back and forth, every single day. As the 17th of August draws closer, the atmosphere grows more vigorous and joyful.
Everybody should know that if the “Family 500+” child benefit program were to be introduced in this country, the country’s finances would melt as quickly as an ice cube in the whiskey glass of a British expat. The number of children, young people, and the general expansion of youth is staggering. Everything is young and bustling with youth. The proverbial “Johnny” has five brothers and four sisters. A new prophet is born each year, as we like to put it here, in the country on the Vistula river. As long as it flows through our land, our nation shall not perish. Admitting to not having kids is tantamount to not claiming a lottery prize. It is seen as the worst possible offence and a total lack of common sense. Actually, it might be considered a disease. No one should talk to such people and they shouldn’t be wasting other people’s time. It’s all good. So good that no one complains. Everyone has as much as they deserve, and knows that there are doors and drawers everywhere which can be opened with a master key the color of a golden eagle, which symbolizes creative energy.
The creative process thrives on every street corner. Local people are all artists. All of the cities are full of artists. Great craft traditions, schools, and almanacs of secret knowledge can be found on almost every street corner. There is an artist working in a shop who can turn a hundred thousand rupees into a bottle of water worth ten thousand rupees. Craftsmen hone real diamonds inside an office. The most expensive stones collected on the fertile soils of Australia, Europe, and the Americas are their raw material. The precious metal is processed in each municipality and every county, in each post office, police station, on every bus and train station, at each cashier’s desk, in every pub, in every bazaar, and finally, in every house. Unaffiliated craftsmen, acting solo, form a separate group. Their style has its roots in the old school and is colloquially known as the spider dance. Their creative process involves the slow spinning of a web around an object of interest. The volatility of tactics, coupled with constant intent, guarantees success.
Masters of this school repeat that they have too little like a mantra. As it is commonly said: practice makes perfect! And I must say that the country, united around the idea of “One Nation,” is at the forefront of this craftsmanship. It is a true national sport with competitions held almost every day. You constantly hear about another record being beaten. Seventeen thousand islands surrounded by the warm waters of seas and oceans. More than 300 languages and innumerable dialects. Like Santa Claus’ bag stuffed to the brim with presents.
From island to island, overcrowded boats sail through this paradise. There is no timetable.Plastic fantastic after eating nasi goreng (fried rice – editor’s note), plastic fantastic after almost everything goes straight into the water. Animals and birds are no longer here. They have all been eaten. But there are bigger concerns. There is still not enough of everything, we still need to stir the fire of creative energy. A ship sails by, bearing an inscription that reads “We bridge the Nation.” One can understand a lot, while sipping on tuak (palm wine – editor’s note) accompanied by a Batak on Sumatra. One can deepen their knowledge when meeting a soldier in civilian clothes at the summit of the Ijen volcano on a date with a beautiful woman wearing a burqa. The stories by a former employee of the Pertamina refinery, representative of the Toraja culture of the Sulawesi island, are overwhelming.
A visit to the village of animists in the south of Sumba or Rote Island puts a big question mark over all that we knew so far. The overcrowded and dirty Java, which had accumulated bad energy, is seething like a great human volcano before an inexorably approaching eruption. “One Nation” sounds beautiful. However, a Batak, sipping on tuak colored with a magic mushroom, dreams about Sumatra becoming a Batak land one day. So, that the Achinese are defeated, and the fertile and productive land feeds a great nation that has always been living in the area surrounding Lake Toba. The Ijen soldier is sad because his comrade was killed by a separatist sniper struggling against Jakarta’s dominance on the island of Sulawesi. Because, as he admits, these are people like him after all. They speak Malay and have the same flag in the colors of the human body and soul. He wonders why his comrade had to die at the hands of his compatriot. On virgin East Nusa Tenggara, things are no better. Here, people utter whispered screams every day at the crucified God asking him to stop others from praying five times a day to a different God. People, in well-balanced poses and relative equilibrium, take part in a real cabaret. The actors speak only of love for one’s neighbor. Bathed in sunlight and the eternal blue sky, (surprisingly) they are cursing life under the Jakarta administration. Falling asleep in silence, they dream about heaven filled with sacks of rice and valuables. They dream about taking everything they have hidden under their mattress to heaven. They believe that they are better than others, because they do not count on getting 72 virgins in paradise. Probably no one believes in fairy-tale Borneo, replete with lush vegetation, anymore. Eighty percent of the rainforest had been irrevocably sacrificed to the needs of the unbridled development of the corporate giants. Their hunger has not yet been satiated, so they also suffer because they still do not have enough.
However, the mysterious Papua province is a real inferno. A true disaster fell upon the heads of the happy forest people. The land which spawned them, upon which they trod, and which was their home, is haunted by a great dragon feeding on precious metal needed to build elegant smartphones, glittering gold that one cannot do without, and shining with oil, which probably requires no explanation, and wood and cheap labor. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, wailing at the sight of a blind and deaf world, too busy collecting items of which there are never enough. As the reports of the Ministry of Tourism show, the situation appears to be evolving. The country is investing huge resources in the growth of this profitable sector. Heavenly beaches, virgin nature, volcanoes, and ethnic diversity attract tourists like a magnet. Despite this, the masterminds sitting in luxurious offices of the department of tourism cannot understand why Singapore – though 1,000 times smaller – attracts 40 times more visitors a year than the great and exotic country dominated by the golden eagle. The last few months, full of stormy debates, have resulted in the introduction of a series of new legal acts designed to improve the current situation. Now Bule, a mythical drunk creature with light-colored skin and a wallet stuffed with dollars, can enjoy not only unforgettable moments spent on the beach, but also a number of attractions prepared with care and attention to detail.
Having gone out in the evening for a drink, it may wake up in a completely different, unfamiliar place and start a new life free from worries and concerns about cash, phones and other valuables. For those who had been enamored by the spell of the islands and decided to settle down here for longer, a special program has been prepared. As part of their stay, Bule gives away his valuables. The creature also plans, renovates, and builds. When the structure is relatively stable, it gives its life’s work to bupati man, i.e. to a clerk, a creative artist, the follower of the “One Nation” slogan who suffers because he still does not have enough. The attraction which draws the attention of the international public opinion consists in spectacular and sudden twists. There are several levels of the game. And there is a lot to win.
The winner of the main prize gets shot in the head. The second-prize winner gets life imprisonment. The third-prize winner gets a five-year prison sentence in a collective cell or pays 500 million rupees bail, equivalent to approximately 150,000 Polish zlotys, a currency that is constantly losing value. This stage usually has several sub-stages and depends on the creativity of local artists and the size of their families who obviously have never had enough. Another prize from the prize pool are deportations. These may take several forms. Straight from the beach, while dressed in shorts and at times wearing no shirt. At night, from a hotel room. While walking the streets with no sidewalks. Sudden twists are ubiquitous and can always happen. The chosen ones – pioneers who had the honor of taking part in the National Olympics – will be changed forever. Until the end of their days, they will be pondering how it happened, and what in fact happened? Why them? Agents, security service workers everywhere, the best helpers, friends from the pub are having a good laugh, yelling “Hello Mister!” at every person. In recent days, a new law on information was passed. From that moment forth, anyone who wants to post any information on the internet must pay for a certificate of reliability for the information he intends to post. Finally, the serious problem of distinguishing between truth and untruth has been solved. City, mass, machine are topics of special importance in the country of the golden eagle. The streets, if they exist at all, are meant only for motorcycles and sometimes cars. The human being has not been included in this great national urban plan. There are no public spaces. There are no parks, benches, meeting places, restaurants, or pubs. None of these places exists and, consequently, there is no society.
Urban development occurs by budding. The guiding idea is the lack of order and discipline. The simpler, the better. With the use of a wire and a string, entire machines, boats, motors, cars, and airplanes are kept together. Everything is stuck together with thin wire. There are no signs on the streets. Cities have no names. The map is a work of abstract art. Abstraction and metaphor do not exist. Neither does the past or the future. The sentence does not have to be compound. The question does not end with an answer. Young people gather on bridges and sit there on their motorbikes. They do not talk to each other. They keep taking selfies. When someone stumbles, they burst with laughter. Men mature until they hit the age of 15. Yes means no. The victim of a motorcycle accident gets their pockets emptied, but does not receive any help. The hotel is called Poland, and each Bule comes from Australia. People living at point X do not know where point Y is, which is situated some 20 km away from X. Knowledge is superfluous while ignorance – imperceptible; it does not obstruct the joyful creative process. There is no furniture inside the houses. The plane of the floor represents all that is needed. When fatigue comes, one can fall asleep while standing up. Or even while lying on the floor or leaning against the wall.
Because everything is simply not enough.
But gold, frankincense, and myrrh are hidden under the mattress. The head of the family is pilfering his son’s valuables kept under the mattress. The son is pilfering his father’s valuables kept under the mattress. The mother can see it all, but she knows that she must pilfer from both the father and the son. Men are observers. This lucrative occupation guarantees survival. The spider dance, the proverbial hospitality, a cheerful smile, and boundless concern for every person encountered – all this fills the space under the mattress. In this sad cabaret, actors put on dirty, derelict clothes. The poorer, the more precious. Those who clean their houses signal that they are rich. More specifically, that they have money. A young lawyer whose father, bupati man, pushes valuables under the mattress, has been chosen. She will become someone one day. She will become bupati girl – a creative, autonomous, and perhaps even independent woman. When she has finished college – paid for with valuables hidden under the mattress – she will be the one who will quickly return the investment to the bupati man. To her father. After all, she will be someone providing help to people who still do not have enough. Engulfed in deep thoughts for several hours, she arched like a figure from Paul Gauguin’s paintings. There was a storm raging in her head – the effect of sudden awareness of the purchasing power of a white man with whom she has had the opportunity to stay for a few days. She could not stand it and asked: “You must be happy, you can travel the world. I cannot afford it. I cannot afford an airplane ticket,” she continued. When she realized that one can buy a cheaper airplane ticket if the trip is planned enough in advance and if there is a special price, she firmly said: “But how come? If I buy an airplane ticket at a special price, then I will have to stand during the flight!”
Translated from Polish by Monika Fryszkowska
 It is a reference to the first social benefit program for families introduced in Poland by the controversial conservative Law and Justice party (ed.).