Angkringan diplomacy

Indonesia is Cameron Hume‘s fourth posting as Ambassador. Previously he’s been envoy in Algeria, South Africa and as Charge d’Affaires in Sudan. Perhaps of his long experience he usually carries with him an air of bored impatience.

Not that you blame him. Top businessmen and politicians must all sound alike after a while, trying to get the attention of the representative of the most powerful nation on Earth (for now anyway).

How the man must yearn to meet some real people in real settings rather than over wine, champange and tete-a-tete in the diplomatic circuits. Perhaps it was for this reason that Hume seemed really to enjoy himself when on Friday he dropped by Wetiga, the angkringan beside the dagdigdug office in Gandaria to donate 300 books to the Jakarta blogging community’s Gerakan 1,000 Buku program.

The Jakarta Blogging Community is called BHI, after Bundaren Hotel Indonesia, where the Jakarta bloggers gather to chat, swap stores and chew the fat on Friday nights. BHI have started a campaign to collect book donations. They will then distribute suitable books to needy children and schools and sell the other books to raise money for them. Their efforts are all part of what blogging communities are embarking on as part of the theme of this year’s Pesta Blogger, which falls on November 22.

After giving a short speech about how he hoped the translated books, which includes the Dr Seuss series, would bring as much joy to indonesian children and spark in them the curiousity and early love for words as they did to American ones, he proceeded to the Wetiga gerobak (push cart) where he selected some corn fritters and sat down to a chat with Ndoro Kakung, Iman Brotoseno and the “operator” of Wetiga Iqbal for a chat.

They talked about street food in Jakarta and Hong Kong and about blogging where the ambassador said, after carefully qualifying that “I don’t control my daughter”, that he thinks Pesta Blogger would be a great function and that he’d ask his daughter to attend.

They then chatted about other things but the ambassador looked like he was having a real good time for a change. After a while he left and everyone felt rather good about his visit. perhaps diplomacy should be more of such events where envoys sit down with real people and talk about real things.

Links to the ambassador’s visit:

Dubes pechas Nadhe

Sang Dubes di Angkringan Wetiga

Dubes AS: Angkringan is Good

Dubes As Ikut Sumbangan ‘Gerakan 1,000 Buku’

Dubes Amrik Mampir

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