Naipaul in Indonesia 

by sunil on August 16, 2016

One little brood was at the foot of a rambutan tree, on the morning Prasojo and I walked through. An old man was up in the tree, using a bamboo rod to pick clusters of the spiky red fruit. Prasojo and I stopped to watch. The man’s son saw us. He saw we were strangers; he took a bunch of the fruit his father had picked and offered it to us with the Javanese-Hindu gesture of courtesy: the fruit in his extended right hand, the fingers of his left hand touching his right elbow. The fruit was money to the family; it was being picked to be sold. Just a few hundred yards away, beyond the maze of the village, was the main road, black with diesel exhaust and lined with little stalls. Jakarta was a city of five million. Here, among people close to the abyss, were still, miraculously, the manners of the country village, the graces of an old civilization. Prasojo was less moved than I was by the offer of the rambutan. He saw it only as correct behaviour. He said, ‘It is how I behave myself. It is the behaviour of a man still in a community. In “society” that same boy would probably steal your fruit
~ Among the Believers, VS Naipaul

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