The rather sentimental song is about a mother in Holland calling her dearly missed son in Bandoeng, a large city on the island of Java and over 15,000 kilometers away. In 1979/1980 Soerabaja (also situated on Java) born singer Wieteke van Dort was responsible for a revival of the song.
In those days making a phone call was an arduous undertaking. I remember when my grandparents wanted to make a call to their daughter in the DEI, a PTT-van* with a transmitter came to their house in The Hague. It was then "flooded" with all kinds of kinds of cables, wires and phones and after hours of preparation the call came into being. I am talking around 1950 now.
This was not the first time for them to communicate with members of the family
|Meinsje Doelman in|
|Japanese camp registration of Jan Wemmers|
During the very early stages of WW2 it was possible to send letters from Holland to the DEI. I have one written by Pieter Doelman (1864-1942). He was the father of Antje, Cornelis and Meinsje. At the time he lived in Antje's house on 18 Mispelstraat, The Hague. On May 30, 1940 he wrote about the surrender of Holland and Belgium and about the bombing of Rotterdam ("26,000 houses destroyed"). Also about a relative who was killed in action during the German invasion.
But apparently the possibility to communicate by mail was stopped a few months
|Red Cross message form|
Today we live in a world of almost instant communication possibilities anywhere. We have our mobile/cell phones enabling us to call, to WhatsApp, to ping, to SMS and what have you. And in case you are out of reach of 3G and even 4G networks, there is always the satellite phone. For youngsters such as our grandchildren it may be good to know that it wasn't always like this. People wrote letters that took a month or more to reach their destination. People did not have phones in their homes, one had to go to the Post Office to place a call to a neighboring city. International calls? Call the international operator please; they would return the call when the connection was made. All these changes came about in the course of the last 60, 70 years. But it is good to realize that the world wasn't always as near and as small as it is today.