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It was time to check out the cemetery behind McCafe.

I had it lined up on Google Street View. And today I had rallied my team.

It’s only around the corner from Warung Indah but the owner says he’ll drive us.

Max was tagging along. He likes his role of translator, but today he was very quiet.

Anton is not only the owner of Warung Indah but he’s funny as fuck. He’s Christian and says I look like Jesus Christ because of my gigantic nose.

Anton is Chinese and about my age, and over the course of my three weeks in Pontianak, we have established a solid friendship. His English isn’t’ the best, but nor is my Indonesian.

He’s a bluesman.

We drove around the corner to the cemetery.

Why walk when you can drive a car? asks Anton.

He’s into the spirit as he parks on the side of the road next to the cemetery and blasts the whole neighborhood with a ‘blues’ CD.

I’m trying to be serious. It’s never easy.  I invite comedy. One day it’s going to backfire if I’m not careful. But fingers and toes crossed;  sir help me god.

Don’t we all direct our own lives?

The cemetery is waterlogged. I’m not going to penetrate this cemetery. It’s protected by mosquito-infested brackish water and I’m already sinking after a  few steps in.

Snakes and ghosts protect this plot, says Max.

‘Enter at your own risk.

I take my obligatory pictures and walk back to the car. I’m feeling the welcoming vibe. Anton is dancing.

Max isn’t. He’s maintaining his professor image. He’s only crazy indoors, far away from his college.

I start dancing. But I”m also filming. Aren’t I a sly dog?

I tell Max this reminds me of the good old days fucking and dancing at the Christian cemetery in Surabaya. Max is smart enough not to translate that.

A Muslim man looks at our little happening. He’s not impressed.

I allay his fear by saying I’m taking a few photos of the cemetery.

Across the street is another cemetery. The caretaker is cutting the grass. Graves that have been buried for years under grass appear.

Max is trying to ask the caretaker for permission to enter.

Fuck that I think, as I enter the open building protecting the graves. The caretaker is too busy cutting grass with a whipper snipper. He’s  failing to listen to Max who has asked about five times if we can enter the building.

I take that as my cue to sneak in. I’ve not even taken off my shoes.

Credit due, though, the caretaker can see I’m keen as mustard to pay my respects. His inaction is another cue to go hell for leather and take photos. It’s more like instinct now. I can’t count how many temples, mosques, churches I’ve been booted out of. But I’m banking on a warm reception due to the obscure nature of the cemetery.

If it was a big mosque and I acted the maggot, it would only be fair that I was booted out.

The floor is moving beneath my feet. It feels like it’s been patched up with light plaster.  It’s about to crack and I’m going to be dragged under by unseen hands. Underneath I suspect it was a grave that’s been filled in.

It’s too flimsy not to be. It’s in the roofed area reserved for the Sultan’s family.

It’s touch and go if I fall into the temporarily covered grave reserved for royalty or not. Eventually I make it out on solid ground. That’s one less bill I’ll have to pay.

The caretaker is silently laughing his left lung out and accepts my apology for entering the sacred zone without permission. I guess he doesn’t get too many foreign visitors.

He knows I’m one of those types that like visiting cemeteries, he could spot it a mile away.

I was going to recommend him a nice cemetery in Surabaya, but the boys dragged me away. They were worried a mob of Muslims was about to descend on us anytime. It was mosque day after all.

Good news, says Max, the sultan has been moved to another cemetery.

Even better news, we were long gone from there.


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