Archive | August 2008

Yeay, It’s The Fasting Season.

For most Muslims, devout or otherwise, it’s the time of the year where Muslims have to fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. I’m not going to delve on why and how, but it’s the unique way Jakarta and Jakartans react to the fasting season:

  • almost every mass media is filled with Muslim-centric shows and series. The TV stations compete with each other to get some prominent ustad say something 10 minutes before sunset (when you stop fasting)
  • restaurants offer ‘buka puasa’ packages, and an entire army of street vendors appear in various places of Jakarta to offer the tajil, which is food for eating when stopping fasting for the day.
  • traffic jams are unbelievable in the hours before sunset – but the roads are empty right after, since everyone has stopped for a drink or meal
  • food courts and restaurants are filled with people who are not eating 10 minutes before ‘buka puasa’
  • A lot of offices open later (since their employees had to get up for breakfast before sunrise, so must obviously sleep more) and close earlier (so that their employees can go home earlier to have ‘buka puasa’ at home – not factoring in the traffic jams)
  • Some gangs claiming to be the guardians of Islam – or whatever – organize sweeps of areas known to have bars, nightclubs, pool halls and any other night entertainment venue, to ‘urge’ them to stop activities during the fasting month. Sometimes they will even vandalize, just because the venue is open in daytime, and even though it’s just a mom and pop grocery store.
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How Very Refreshing

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Anyone who feels they can enjoy a glass of Teh Botol topped with a lot of ice on a hot day, can also enjoy this picture with equal measure. More likely than not, the same ice hanging in the air, near all the exhaust vents, the rear wheel and next to the guys’ ass, is now sitting in the glass in front of you.This doesn’t include the accumulated pollution that sticks to the ice while these guys take their time to talk on the roadside without even getting off their motorcycles.

Hey, Let’s Go Get Another Bottle…

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… and let’s see how many we can stack up!

The Long-Lost Twin…

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.. of Ariel Peterpan, works as a bajaj driver. He even puts his claim on his vehicle…

Safety First Or Safety Worst

Last week, in one of those unexpected traffic jams in Kuningan, I saw a guy get hit by the Transjakarta bus. In the midst of unmoving traffic, he got out of his cab and inadvertantly stepped in the Transjakarta lane, and apparently there was a bus right behind him. The poor guy, a Malaysian national, survived but crushed his arm.There have been many sad stories of people getting hit by buses, Transjakarta and otherwise; and in many cases, they were standing too far from the curb, on the street, were jaywalking (even when a pedestrian bridge is nearby) or even falling off the bus: the most gruesome case was a man fell off his bus on the high-speed tollway, and got hit by a car, blasting him to pieces.It is sad for the families and friends left behind – but it is also sadder that many people – pedestrians and motorists alike – seem to ignore safety. A helmet is considered a mere suggestion and some aren’t even built to protect. Crossing bridges stand empty because it’s “easier” to cross the street below directly, even if you have to avoid speeding traffic or climb over fences. And, however clearly the busway lane is marked, people still tempt fate and go there. Would it be so different if the lanes were train tracks? No, because we also hear of various accidents involving people or vehicles and the trains that crash into them.I thought one of the basic human drives was save your own ass? I guess that instinct only comes at imminent threat – when a bus is speeding in your direction – and does not apply to preventive measures.I feel my condolences for the families left behind because of these accidents – but they were accidents that could have been avoided.Hm. I’m not funny today.

In Jakarta, You Don’t Drive To The Store,…

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… the store comes to you. So no more forgetting about the shopping list.