by Ashok Dalvi
Beni was an extraordinary person- a man for all seasons. Yet you did not know it at first; you sensed it. It took time to get to know his many facets. Beni was unassuming and low key. He had that zenlike smile that made you feel intrigued but comfortable. Beneath that demeanour there was great understanding of people, of his country (for he was a patriot in the highest sense), and of the world. Beni traveled extensively in his youth and later in his life as a part of his job, as a part of personal quest and later for Indonesian mining industry.
Nima and I met him and Soffie for the first time in Sorowako, just after we arrived there in the early days of the project in 1976. Over the years we got to know them both well. They became close friends and more. Beni had that innate warmth and generosity. Our sons, who were very young when we were in Sorowako the second time in the 80’s, grew up knowing Uncle Beni. Sameet used to sleep on his tummy and used to call him Uncle Nini. Anil and Sameet both still remember those days very warmly and think of Beni as their uncle.
Beni was a geologist by training, but by learning and experience he was a renaissance man. You could speak with him on many subjects, and he spoke knowledgeably and with subdued passion. He knew Indonesia well and had extensive connections in the country. We got to see Indonesia through his eyes, for which we feel very fortunate. It is a great country and he was a great ambassador for it.
Beni was one of the pioneers of P.T. Inco and served the company throughout his working career with distinction. His efforts helped the company to keep in touch with the community and the country at large through many ups and downs. Beni showed the same empathy to the mining workers that he showed to the highest government officials.
Beni and Soffie visited us in 2010 and it was great that he was able to meet with his long-time Inco colleagues and address them during the Quarter Century Club Dinner of 2010.
For our family, it is a great loss not having Bapak Beni around. But it seems he is still with us, with his zenlike smile that is still comforting.