Sunday, November 02, 2008

Electric Boogaloo Pt.2

Well another painful financial week has limped to a close and the world is looking forward to a Christmas of austerity and humbug. Nintendos may be out of reach for many this Yuletide and once again kids may have to make do with an orange and a spinning top.

You've got to keep smiling though and a few financial crisis jokes may just cheer us up briefly before Metro Mad once again gets down to the business of pulling the rug out from under the happy dancing feet of your weekend. What's the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon? A pigeon is still capable of leaving a deposit on a Ferrari. Cue sound of tumbleweeds blowing down the street. Not tickled? How about this one. What's the capital of Iceland? About $10. Cue sound of an owl hooting in a copse. Oh well I tried.

The recession is on its way I guess and perhaps nothing will cheer us up. Jakarta is certain to feel its effects too but at least there is no mortgage crisis here. Some of the prefabricated housing that I’ve seen in those new complexes on the outskirts of town looks as if it would crumble to dust long before any mortgage was paid off anyway. Average Indonesians are more likely to have their hire purchase motor scooters repossessed than their houses. Also, those living under bridges and along riverbanks in the city are more likely to have their cardboard box style houses smashed up by public order officials; certainly I don’t think anyone would be particularly interested in repossessing them.

It's worth remembering how this whole sorry state of affairs started in the first place though, namely multitudes of people defaulting on their mortgages in America. Basically this means that your average working man is simply unable to afford to buy somewhere to live any more. When this comes to pass I think you have to ask yourself some serious questions about what has happened to society over the last 20 years. Life can be tough in the West too despite the paved with gold image that many in Asia have of the Occident.

Changing the subject to only marginally less depressing matters, some of you may recall last week's column in which I related the sad saga of most of our household appliances being fried in a PLN Power surge. This unfortunate incident has solicited a few e-mails in my inbox this week.

A Mr. RT (married to Mrs. RW perhaps) wrote to me to say, "Down here in lightning alley (Cinere) I've already lost multiple electronic gadgets power supplies plus a cable modem and a router." My commiserations Sir. Mr. RT also goes on to ask me what we have subsequently had installed in our house to prevent a recurrence of our PLN lightning strike. Well Mr. RT, something has certainly been installed, a kind of cut-out switch/fuse if I understand correctly although the exact details are a bit too much for the machinations of my Pentium II brain to handle.

Mr. RT seems to live in one of those areas of town in which the voltages are particularly erratic and I'm sure that many of you will be familiar with mini electric shocks from metal surfaces of unearthed appliances. Some of you may secretly quite enjoy them.

I also received a slightly more heartening e-mail from Mr. Daniel Smets who told me that after a power surge in his area he, "Had damage of about Rp.40 million". Mr Smets then went on to send PLN complaints consisting of, "Many, many e-mails and 1000 telephone calls without reaction. Finally I sent a faxed letter with the final words 'Okay, I will put this story in the Jakarta Post.' A few hours later we had a meeting in my office and finally, after one week, PLN paid all back."

Apparently miracles really can happen and it's all thanks to the good old JP. It seems perhaps strange that PLN, holding as they do a monopoly on power generation in this country, would care. I suppose in our publicity and public relations industry polluted third millennial psyches it's the only threat that seems to count for anything in this world. “Bad publicity! Oh no! We'd better pay him back!” I’d like to point to Mr. Smets though that sending me that e mail was perhaps not such a great idea. His story has now finally been published in the JP you see and PLN are perhaps going to want their money back. If they don’t get it I guess they may maliciously zap Mr.S’s place with some more volts.

Actually, now that I come to think about it, maybe I could leverage my column to issue a few threats of my own. Something along the lines of, "Dear Izzi Pizza, my Marinara was woefully low on mushrooms last week, I’d like free Lasagne Bolognese and a bottle of Aussie red wine for a period of one year or else I will print all in the Jakarta Post.” Right, time to fire up my hotmail….