Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Indonesian Holidays

Life in Indonesia can never be described as dull or boring or routine. Ok, maybe the food can be as rice and noodles with chicken or fish daily is all the above, but I guess I need to get with the program and accept it as I cant see the whole country change to boiled potatoes and breakfast cereals and lovers of sandwiches as well that would be too easy or I was back in the UK.
The newspapers are full of interesting stories although through the year the stories have become more interesting or random and more concerning and the news of religious hate, illicit sex videos, corruption at all levels, Malaysia and Indonesia disputes and the total destruction of the environment is quite sad at the end of the day. Boys in Bali having sex with cattle and then marrying them do seem to brighten up the news somewhat but even these stories are being hidden. Good news stories is what is needed as the avenues of gossip, infotainment and strange stories seem to be missing from the Globe and the Post. They need a humour corner of all things funny and bizarre in this wonderful country. 
So back to the title, its holiday time kinda here or at least a happier month for the majority of people as it is Ramadhan or Ramadan.
Ramadhan is a great time of the year for all muslims to fast for 'the sake of god and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds' (taken from wikipedia). Here is another source from a great blogging friend who is also muslim. Not only has she explained Ramadhan from her perspective but she also provides the best asia recipes I have seen and attempted. Please visit her blog here Umihoney.
From my perspective I just have to observe simple rules of politeness ie, not eating, drinking, mentioning food etc in front of people. At the school all the teachers are being polite but carrying on as normal as well it is what we have to do. 
The muslim students as well as adults are fasting from as young as 9 fast from sun up to sun down, this basically means they wake up early pray, eat and then fast through the day until 6pm when they break fast and can eat again. They do this for 30 days and then at the end there is a huge party and everyone celebrates the end of fasting. 
So my students are tired and hungry but in good spirits. The teachers and the staff are supportive. I have not seen the curtains in the windows of the restaurants around where I live and central park has made no attempt to hide people from eating or drinking in the coffee shops etc, maybe a sign of more acceptance or something I dont know and dont really want to comment too much as I might be wrong. 
As the fasting continues I will update my observations, but for now it is noticably quieter on the roads after 6pm and through the day although that could be my imagination.
Speaking of which, the rains are still here, the weather has been stormy and rainy etc all week, today it was hot and really sunny. I saw possibly the worst motorbike smash so far since living here today. As usual bikes go too fast in traffic and weave in and out of cars to get through rather than riding sensibly and carefully. One bike carrying 2 people managed to weave too fast and too badly and hit a taxi at speed knocking both people off and scattering debris from the car it all over the road. The thing that shocked me was that you could hear the woman scream as she tumbled and flew off the bike, I could not stop as the traffic was moving but I hope they are ok. 
Bike riders here seem to think they are invincible and the "it will never happen to me" belief is such a mistake. Makes me take more care when I am out there.
On a happy note today was Indonesia's birthday. It is 65 today. 65 years of Independence after being a colony to the Dutch. Happy Birthday!!
However, there was not much in the way of celebrations that I saw when riding around, rather a low key affair. I am sure the malls did stuff but the streets were pretty quiet and I dont think I saw so many flags this year as I did last year. 
But as it was a national holiday then I hope most people enjoyed their time off. Good to see the window cleaners cleaning the windows in the apartments, its been 2 months and I can hardly see out of mine. 
My sofa arrived on Saturday and finally I have something good to sit on. Black imitation or cheap leather. Its nice and means I can chill out now better than before. 
Now to find the time to get the AC fixed and it will be great in here.
I should mention how helpful the parking people are here in the apartments as yet again I left my keys in my bike and wandered off, it took 4 hours for me to realise so I went back to the bike only to be handed the keys. They do a good job. Thank you

So to end the day I am watching Independence Day on Global TV, quite well thought out for Indonesian TV (except it is about Aliens and the the 4th of July) but still I like the movie. Good stuff
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