Hi ,

Greetings from the island of Java, Indonesia.

Last week I was writing from South Goa. India. A favourite spot to chill and think, you can read about it here.
Since then I flown across India from the west coast to the east coast to visit Serampore and the hometown of Mr Chatterjee (our man in India). After a night flight to Kuala Lumpur, a day interviewing staff for our IT team there and then a 3.30am start to get the flight to the port city of Semarang on the island of Java.

Serampore is where all the jute and cotton bags and packaging products come from. Mr Chatterjee runs a factory with his longstanding and loyal team of workers, beavering away making products for AW and others.

Photo from Radek 2
Photo from Radek 1
Photo from Radek 3

It's one of the poorest places I visit, although little improvements are seen, better street lighting, an actual park, albeit very tiny and new high rise property development being built with apartments advertised from 7 lac - about £8,000. The people are lovely and despite the obvious poverty, there are no beggars and I understand crime is very rare.
Regular readers will know about the orphanage we support in the town, I, of course, have to go and visit, they love it when I come and always put on some kind of production where the kids can demonstrate their improving English with renditions and singing.
This time I said - no need to do all that stuff - I'll just come for a cup of tea and a chat. Thinking I could see day to day life at the home. I'd got Mr Chatterjee to phone, whist we was in Delhi to request a no-fuss visit.
We arrived late because of traffic, and in the outdoor canopy area I find all twenty-four children sat patiently in neat lines cross-legged on the floor, small ones at the front bigger at the back. A line of chairs a small table and a cup of tea. "Welcome Mr David" they all say in unison as we enter.
Mr Chatterjee and I sit down, we are given cups of milky char and Mr Kundu (the orphanage owner) and the art teacher we hired stand looking at us. We sip the tea, the kids all watching us and smiling, Mr Kundo and the teacher watching us smiling. "This is not what I had in mind" I hiss at Chatterjee under my breath. So I ask Mr Kundu what they normally do on a Sunday evening.. "Yes sir, they do homework, play games and watch cricket on television".
"Oh!" I say.. "That's good.. let's do that then". Mr Kundo is wobbling his head from side to side. "Oh no sir, Mr David sir, all that is cancelled because you are coming for tea".
So embarrassing.. they really got me here.. then I remember the kids are entered in a local art competition been put on by the town temple. "Mr Kundu could the kids show me their artworks?" They don't need much encouraging before Mr Kundu can tell them - they all run off to find drawing pads and lining up to proudly show me the art one by one. There are one or two kids with clear talent. Then the traditional group high fiving, a few pictures and everyone are relaxed and informal.

Photo from Radek

It's always hard work in India, but almost always rewarding..
In Kuala Lumpur I met up with Tomas - the Marketing director/wizard at AW - and yesterday flew to Semarang, Ringo (our man in Indonesia) met us at the airport. My first impression, well the airport wasn't what I expected - it's as modern and slick as any in China and busy. The first thing you notice is the smell.. coffee.. Java haha.. smells of coffee!

So now we are in a totally new area in Java, it's early morning time for breakfast. Time to explore. First I need that coffee :)
Full report next week.

Take care.



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