When You See It : Indonesia

September 19, 2014 – Indonesia:Day 002

There is an activity on the Internet (and I first discovered it on the image sharing site, imgur) where people post pictures that look, at first glance, to be completely benign. However, the poster of the picture will provide the caption of “When You See It”. Those four words are the clue that there is something rather amiss with the photograph.

For a better (and more visual) explanation of the WYSI gag, jump on over to this link for sixteen examples.

In that vein, I offer you my own version of the WYSI game. The picture below comes from our family’s mini vacation to the beachy area of Kuta identified on most maps belonging to the city of Bali, Indonesia. So, here you go – – when you see it…

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This picture was taken outside of a temple right in downtown Kuta. Okay, so I admit that the item in this picture that caused me to do a double take and spit take all at the same time is not that well hidden in this image. But, that is the point. The symbol known as the swastika is a symbol of good luck here in Southeast Asia and so it is not hidden or kept behind closed doors. According to the Wikipedia entry on this symbol,

In Chinese Taoism, the swastika is a symbol of eternity. For Tibetan Buddhism, it is emblematic of the element of Earth. It is a common practice for Hindus to draw Swastika symbols on the doors and entrances to their houses during festivals, which is believed to symbolize an invitation to goddess Lakshmi.

The symbol has a long history in Europe reaching back to antiquity. In modern times, following a brief surge of popularity as a good luck symbol in Western culture…

The above definition being what it is, it was still disconcerting to open up the bathroom door in our hotel room and see the following decoration hanging above the porcelain throne:

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In my travels around Bangkok, I have also encountered this symbol. The last time I saw it was a few weeks ago when I was at a local grocery store. As the cashier was scanning my milk and broccoli, I saw the swastika tattooed on his right hand in between his thumb and forefinger.

I know it means good luck and has other religious significance, but my gut always ties itself into a knot reflexively whenever I see that symbol displayed so openly.

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