National Geographic : 1945 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Lest Jackets Be Soiled, the Hands-on-hull Crew Exerts Only Gentle Pressure For such work, says the author, it is foolish to wear more than shorts. Birans, desiring to be like Euro peans, believe that wearing European clothes is enough to effect the transformation. To move the sailors, the prau master shouts himself hoarse (page 76). divided my time between shouting at the sailors and photographing their efforts. Toward the end of the hauling not one of those who had "taken the tree"-as the job of lead ing the men is called-could speak in any thing but a hoarse whisper. When at last the 118th ship had been hauled, Commodore Gomek came to me, sweat dripping from his brow. "Thank you, Tuan," he whispered. "I've never heard anything like the noise you made!" Epidemics Take 5,000 Lives Soon after the ships returned, severe epi demics of malaria and dysentery broke out in Bira and the neighboring district. Work on my half-built ship stopped. I helped the Netherlands Indies Public Service, distributing quinine and persuading the Birans to let themselves be inoculated against dysentery. Many were afraid of inoculation. In the four months that the epidemics lasted, more than 5,000 people died in the corner of Celebes where I was staying. When at the end of the west monsoon the epidemics had been stamped out by quinine and inoculation, the Bira fleet sailed for the Moluccas and work on my ship was resumed. In this period I foolishly neglected my food, eating polished rice and not much else, with the result that I ran short of vitamin B1 and got beriberi. Off for Tropical Isles During the epidemics I had malignant ma laria and dysentery, so that with the beri beri coming a few months later I had by this time fairly good experience with tropical diseases. Halfway through the east monsoon my high-pooped ship was completed, after 15 months in Bira that had taught me much about the vigorous and enterprising seafarers of Celebes and their praus. As crew I chose six men who usually sailed in the palaris of my friend Daeng Marinyo; andatlastIwasabletodowhatIhad wanted to do since I was a child-sail away in a ship of my own to tropical palm-fringed islands. The outbreak of war in 1939 took me from my free life of sailing among the islands and placed me in a government office in Batavia to organize propaganda for the varied peoples of the Indies.