National Geographic : 1948 May
Nethlerlaul s Information l ll uIllt Symbol of Vanished Glory Is a Javanese Sultan's Gold-encrusted Coach Here the Soesoehoenan of Soerakarta rides forth in his carriage, surrounded by servants in royal trappings. Even under prewar Netherlands rule the Sultan's power declined; now, with his territory in Indonesian Re publican hands, it is almost nonexistent. In past years the Sultans of Soerakarta and Jogjakarta were Java's most important native leaders. tiny hand his barefooted mother and father gave me the most heart-warming smiles I have ever received. Lunchtime, which began early and ended late, meant a wild scramble by chattering members of the respective families for food packages stored in sacks or valises scattered all over the car. Those of us who carried no lunches had to depend on the food venders at occasional stations. The difficulty was that it was vir tually impossible to squeeze one's way out onto the platform even if one wanted to take the risk of losing his precious seat on the hard arm of a chair. The windows of the car opened just wide enough to admit a man's flattened hand, but the peddlers managed to squeeze through some boiled duck eggs, also tiny oranges and other small fruit, and we subsisted on these. "No Time for Climbing Mountains" My Indonesian companion and a number of other youths who had fought in the Repub lican armed forces, first against the Japanese and then against the British-Indian troops who landed in Java to accept the Japanese surrender and rescue Allied internees, engaged me in conversation. Their facility in our tongue was certainly a tribute to the thoroughness of the prewar Dutch educational system. These youths showed great interest in American foreign and domestic affairs, and I discovered that they listened regularly to the "Voice of America" broadcasts from our west coast in both English and Malay. One young veteran told me that it was his life's ambition to attend West Point and asked me whether there was any possibility of an Indonesian youth being admitted. Towards evening, as we were crossing the great rice fields of the Cheribon plain, the sheer peaks soaring into the blue sky of the distant interior again attracted my attention. "If some of our American mountain climbers saw those peaks, they could not resist an attempt to scale them," I remarked to my young Indonesian companion. "We have no time for climbing mountains." he replied. "We have many more important things to do."