Planet Hiker
2008-12-16 Typewriter, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia


Trat, trat, trat, trat, tat,
chik, chik, chik, chik, chik,
trat, tat,
chik, chik.
Holding his index fingers pointed, the bureaucrat pecked away at the typewriter.
Tat, tat, tat, trat, tat.
It sounded as if every stroke was popping another bubble on a bubble warp.
Trat, tat, tat, tat, tat.

I was sitting in the office long enough to be annoyed by the unnecessary paperwork, but the thought that this may be the very last time that I ever witness a real typewriter being used for official purposes (my identity information was being logged before I could head off to Niang Niang, one of Mentawai islands - west coast of Sumatra) kept me longing for more of that trat tat tat sound.

backpacking travel for surfing in lombok indonesia Chzzzing, the bureaucrat reset the paper feeder and after taking another look at the crookedly printed letters went back to pecking at the keys. The most delightful part was watching him jerking off the under-space for at least good 30 seconds in order to make a horizontal line:
tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat...
He had a dignified busy expression on his face while doing it. Next, he fed the paper through a little to marvel at his creation. The line was crooked for some reason. Eah, good enough for government work.

On the wall in front of me there was a crudely painted map, using only blue and green colors. The city points were marked with large nails going through them and for some reason there were strings strung between them. Perhaps they were meant to signify the roads but, I am not sure how useful that would be... After all, it would have been better to paint the roads, however crudely it may have had to be done.

Tat tat, trat, tat tat, trat.
Finally, he rolled out the paper, got hold of a large round stamp, dipped it into the ink box, aimed at the specific spot on the sheet and without any hesitation leaned on the stamp. I then got to sign the document. It was beautiful. I was even charged 50,000 Rupiah for it, enough money for two meals. This was obviously way too much for the service performed, but not high enough to fall into the category of bribery. I readily paid and expressed my deepest gratitude. With that, we were on our way to Niang Niang.