Science and Technology in the Service of Harmony and Beauty
Bossacha Observatory, Lembang, West Java, Indonesia May 27th to June 1st 2013
A Learning Development Institute, UNESCO, Institute Teknologi Bandung , Bossacha Observatory Fundacion Culture de Paz and UNAWE event.
Moon over South China Sea – Blog 1
Altitude 41,037 ft , Speed 545 mph, Outside temperature – 71 degrees, 06:14 local time, one hour too touchdown in Singapore. Over my right shoulder framed in the super jumbo’s oval window I noticed the full moon setting over the South China Sea. This beautiful vision triggered an immediate reaction to record it in some way. I took data from the flight path graphics screen, searched desperately in my bag for a pencil but only found a biro for sketching. The crispy clear moon offered the illusion that it was suspended for a time on the wing of the plane. A double moon halo with a rich tangerine inner circle and a pale silver blue outer circle enriched the view even further. I became transfixed with the complexity of the observation before me. The moonlight made a strong glint on the wing. The light dissipated along the blue slate leading edge as we sliced through the freezing outside atmosphere. Diffraction spikes, then developed over the wing in the moonlight. I think they were made by the window; they looked like spokes of carefully assembled, tight lined gas spectra.
For a long while the moon seemed to stay on the wing. I decided that moon drawing from a moving aircraft was a luxury I would like to have more of. The light playing from moon to wing and window was visually powerful, a painting hatched there and then. I took notes of colour tone and positions of everything for a later work as hot towels were once again handed out by the elegant flight attendants on Singapore Airlines.
A bird strike at Heathrow left all my subsequent flight connections very tight. I had 12 minutes or so in Changi before my Bandung flight at Terminal 2. The Sky Train and a wobbly run to gate 32 F did my sore foot no good at all, however I was very pleased when I was onboard the Silk Air flight on the last leg of my 8,000 mile journey ( or so I thought ) to my hotel in Lembang, West Java.
Bossacha Observatory had sent a car, a two hour journey ensued, the distance was only 20 kilometres .For most of that journey my eyes were wide open and so was my mouth as I was shocked at much of what I saw. The extreme opulence of finely designed gated houses, side by side with extreme poverty was difficult to understand. The condition of the roads, the pavements, and infrastructure left me aghast It seemed there were no road rules or standards. Everywhere there were food stalls on wheels and most of them were over open drains beside piles of uncollected rubbish which added to the chaotic view. What seemed like 500 million motorcycles competed with flash cars, angkots (local taxis) and trucks held together with gaffer tape for every available piece of road. Entire families were on these motorcycles. Babies being fed on motorcycles, children asleep on motorcycles, everyone moving at speed in between the other vehicles with inches to spare. My only conclusion was that the government did not give a care for these people in any way shape or form.
I witnessed large dogs, domestic cats and rabbits for sale in cages on the side of the road outside very grandiose houses. Where have I come to? What was I thinking of? Were the thoughts in my head as my lovely driver tried to persuade me to go shopping for water before we reached my destination. After a rather dizzy U turn in this manic road system we were suddenly taking another route with involved a kind of toll road, well actually a toll lane to be more precise.
A pole as narrow as the car was lifted by a tiny old woman to bring us into a beautiful peaceful country road with banana trees, jungle and local houses all along the way. This was a very different world to the mayhem of Bandung.
The hotel was guarded and secured, very beautiful planting and facilities. I found great peace and clarity by its Koi pond and restful thinking in the sunrays.
God is Great
[said two times]
La ilaha illa Allah
There is no god except the One God
For the pre-dawn (fajr) prayer, the following phrase is inserted after the fifth part above, towards the end:
As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm
Prayer is better than sleep
(said two times)
This was my wake up call at 4 am each morning, it had me on my balcony alert and listening to the jungle sounds competing with chanting voices from somewhere in the pre dawn darkness. As the sun’s rays climbed over the valley, the view of Tankuban Perahu,a recently active volcano to my right and a stunning gorge below filled every light receiving cell in my eyes, with awesomeness. The steep terraces were flanked by exotic trees full of yellow and purple flowers. Very tiny jet black birds darted everywhere, too fast to see their shapes, butterflies of many colours fluttered in the greenery below my perch.
I had no problem with the Muadhan’s early call, it reminded me that I was a visitor to a unique place on the planet. This country needed my effort to accept and understand its culture. ( see my short video below to hear some of it, he called from 4am - 5am daily)
My first thoughts about Java were illuminated in a broader context by a most excellent talk during the colloquium. Dr James Lees (University of the Western Cape) gave to us a presentation he regularly gives to his students. He used clips from the popular show X Factor to develop in our minds thoughts of being judgmental, feelings of empathy, and a gamut of other human emotions which were soon all present and tangible in the room. James’s presentation was a global lesson. Dr Lees works with young people suffering from HIV. He teaches people how to live and how to die with strength and harmony while dealing with this disease which finds little emphatic engagement amongst the world’s nations.
His work brings understanding to forgotten people who do not have time to enjoy beautiful moons dangling on the wings of airplanes.’ Walk in my shoes ‘ the slogan on the posters he distributed to everyone, a strong message. Extending the aspiration of that slogan slightly, the right to education is not for all the world’s children but it should be. In Bossacha observatory we were there to discuss Building the Scientific Mind with input from people of many differing disciplines. How many minds are lost to education, creative and scientific development by Hunger, HIV, War, Corruption, Ignorance, Prejudice, and Neglect? How can this planet strive to ensure that all its children now and in the future will be embraced by an education and have the freedom to indulge not just in scientific and creative expression but in life itself?
My experiences at Building the Scientific Mind 2013 can only be articulated through several blogs as it was so rich and varied in form and learning.
More on this soon and Action Sun at Bossacha Observatory