Published: Jul 30, 2007

Review: Goodfellow has drawn on his deep knowledge of Indonesia to excavate from daily events the realities that lie behind them

Ron Witton

One's first visit to Indonesia is filled with incredible images and perceptive insights. On each subsequent visit these things become more familiar, and finally 'normal'. Rob Goodfellow transports us back to that first visit. Filled with 21 anecdotes (which he labels 'short stories'), Rob has drawn on his deep knowledge of Indonesia to excavate from daily events the realities that lie behind them.

He wrote this (bravely self-published) collection while living in Indonesia with his two children. This allows us also to see Indonesia through their eyes - he includes a letter from his son Simon to his grandparents ('The green iguana').

My favourites include his tales of dealing with the bureaucracy ('The police station'), and with one's daily experience of Indonesians who wish to practise their English on you ('Hello mister I lub you'). For anyone who has lived in or around Yogyakarta, his tale of superstition ('It's Jum'at Kliwon again') will reawaken memories. The cartoons by Weldon Neville are delightful. If you are looking for a gift for an 'old Indonesia hand', look no further!

Rob Goodfellow, The green iguana, Kang Djoko Books, 1999, 96pp, ISBN 0-646-37741-8, Rrp AU$19.95

Ron Witton (rwitton@uow.edu.au) first visited Indonesia in 1962. Contact Kang Djoko Books: 48 Matthew's St, Wollongong, Australia 2500, sujoko@ozemail.com.au.

Inside Indonesia 61: Jan - Mar 2000