Last week, 14-16 February 2008, I had the good fortune of being invited to present a workshop in Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta. I have not been to Yogya for a number of years and every time that I do go back I wish that it was for longer than a couple of days. Yogya is a place I would like to live and I guess my fondness stems from the fact that my introduction to Indonesia was Yogya. Introduction here means the first two months I spent in Indonesia, I spent in Yogyakarta.
But as the title to this post suggests that it is not really about Yogyakarta at all but rather it is about Borobudur. I have been to Borobudur a number of times now and the reality is that it does not change much over time in the grand scheme of things. I think that I keep going back to spot the little changes such as any renovations or re-ordering of the stones which supposedly tell a story. But rather by my reckoning these stones look like a collection of disorganized sheets of paper torn from a book and then stuck back in in any old place.
Aside from that I always forget to take a hat and get sunburnt and then have to endure the taunts of those who think I look like a boiled crab!
One thing that never changes at Borobudur are the souvenier sellers. If anything they have become more agressive and super persistent. Each of them has a tragic tale of existence to tell and for all I know these tragic tales are undoubtedly true. Yet, I could not make myself buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff...I really don't need any t-shirts that are 4 sizes to small and most of the other really gaudy trinkets on sale I have already bought on previous occasions...So, I resisted even though at times that resistance seemed like it was going to be futile.
However, one of the guides there (a reasonable speaker of English for any of my non-Indonesian speaking readers) by the name of Agus. Agus doubles up on his guide duty with being a bit of a fortune teller on the side and his friends seem to consider him a bit of a legend on the Javanese mysticism front.
No cost was involved and no tip was expected but as always any donation was appreciated. Funnily enough most of what he said seemed to make sense and seemed to be leaning more towards being true than false. He asked me no questions and just got straight to work...there were no far-reaching predictions of life and death but nevertheless interesting tidbits about career and family. So, if your ever in that part of the world just ask anyone of the guides about this bloke and they will point you in the right direction.
I would encourage you to go and look at Borobudur for yourself...The above photo is from my very own collection (and not some copyrighted photo I stole from the web)!