Friday, 18 October 2013

Idul Adha

Yep missed it again. I will one year get out of bed and observe the second most important festival in the Islamic calender. By observe I mean go down the road and watch the smiles on the childrens' faces as they watch goats and cows get slaughtered in the name of Ilbrahims sacrifice.

There has been more cows and goats in the local area than I have seen for a very long time and they have been tied and tethered to each for at least a week. But by Tuesday morning they had all gone, even the bones.
Goats in a make shift stable around the  corner from my home

A goat outside and inside a house

Now however barbaric you may find this, the actual reason and use of the animals is very clear. This passage from BBC schools explains it most clearly for me:
"The story of Ibrahim's sacrifice
Eid-ul-Adha celebrates the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son Isma'il as an act of obedience to God.
The devil tempted Ibrahim by saying he should disobey Allah and spare his son. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son, Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead.
Note: This story is also found in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament (Genesis 22). Here God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, his son with Sarah. Isma’il was his son with Hagar."
And every year since goats and cattle have been killed instead. The dead animals are then stripped down and the meat is distributed to the poor and needy and so everyone gets a bag of meat. The animals don't come cheap with a cow costing upwards of 14 million rupiah or just under 800 pounds and a goat at 3 million or 170 pounds. How to buy one? Well there are phone numbers and special markets where you choose one, then they deliver it to the mosque of your choice I guess and then it is chopped up and everything given away.

It certainly is big business thats for sure.

The night before there are fireworks and drums and parades and this year the city government shut a main road to help everyone celebrate. The men in the mosques were busy shouting out prayers (I guess) all evening but it did all die down around 11pm.

The best thing really for me, was having a day off! I worked Monday and then Tuesday was a national holiday. The banks were closed and many people had decided not to work. Yovita was sent home at 2pm as the roads were closing and that was good for her as well.
What did I do with the day off? Nothing. Coffee, some shopping, sleeping and reading and that was that really.

Next month its Moslem new year on 5th so thats a double celebration of Bonfire night and happy new year for me.

Despite a lot of short comings living out here, the national holidays are plentiful and are taken on the day they fall and with 3 new years, and some many religious festivals given national status, extra days off are always around the corner. 11 public holidays in the week this year and at least 12 next year.....That can't be bad.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Water Supply in Jakarta

Last year I had a ground well which ran out of water during the dry season and into the rainy season and well to be honest, never really filled back up. So when we moved into our new house with modern fixtures and fittings and direct access to water, we never looked back.

Direct access to water means water that is supplied from the water company. The water is certainly not recommended to drink but as a rule it does not smell, it is clear and it safe to wash in. Only when you don't have water do you realise how much you waste and use needlessly. I am not advocating everyone spend 3 months living in a place with limited access to water but it does teach a valuable lesson.
Our water comes into the house via a large holding tank under the car port floor. The space has to be 4mx4x2m in height so that is a lot of water it can hold and like a cistern the level or amount is controlled by a ballcock arm and float. Very simple. The water is then pumped to a tank on the roof and then gravity feed to the taps and toilets and the pressure is OK but not the best. However, I am not sure if the tank on the roof is ever full or even if there is one. I am assuming as a tank can be seen from the road if you are coming in from the right direction.
Apparently we have been very lucky with our water supply compared with the neighbours, who have had leaking pumps, pipes and other issues resulting in them paying for each others water. Weird but its understandable. The pipework itself seems to be robust and we have had only one issue which was fixed immediately. However there are water stains on the ceiling that cannot be explained. I suspect thats the roof.... but I can't be sure.

So the other week whilst showering the water turned a nice gritty light brown colour for a while and then stopped coming out of the shower. Then the toilet would not refill etc. I pay a visit to the holding tank to discover it is empty. There is no water. The ballcock had rusted at the joint which allowed the water to flow in at some point over the past 6 months and so it just ran its self empty. Forcing the lever up, out came the water. However what came out of the pipe was not really the nicest thing to see. First of all the bottom of the tank is covered in a layer of black or dark green slime which because we never new the tank was empty has been pumped around the house (it has all gone now) and then the pipes filled up with mud and I suspect the holding tank on the roof.

The black stuff could be organic but organic what?
Once I managed to wash, I went back to the tank and tried to stop the water coming out only to have the lever snap off in my hand and even more water pouring into the tank. A quick call to the wife and I was off to the land lady. I turned the pump and the water at the mains off before I left. I did not want the pump to go bang and have to pay a lot of money for that. The ballcock lever arm had just simply rusted out as it was made of metal and the cheapest one probably, around.

The landlady looked surprised and concerned when I handed her the lever and she sent her maid round to take a look at things. A man came later that night and replaced the arm and filled the tank. So I am waiting for a very big water bill next month much to my dismay.  However it took 3 more days for all the taps in the house to run clear with water and even now we sometimes get brown water come out. Not idea if you are shaving or cleaning your teeth at that moment.

I have done a little research into the water quality around my area which was actually easier than you would think because our supplier PALJYA water provides documentation and information about the quality of the water each month which is actually very impressive.

Kalibata and Tebet are both next to Mampang.

Both taken from
The water from the areas around my house both passed the tests made which could be false hope or could actually be good news. I will go with the good news. Still wont drink it though.

The water we get comes from a reservoir somewhere outside Jakarta and it is raw river water which gets treated and cleaned and then pumped to the house. But due to the way the pipework and connections work leaks and infiltration happens and so the water gets dirtier and more unsafe. We use the water only to wash in the house and nothing else.

I strongly believe that there is a septic tank under the house as well but I cant be sure and no one seems to care. There are several pipes that carry water into drains outside the house to a stream which connects to the a bigger stream, then a river and maybe is then re-pumped into the water supply somewhere. I don't really think about it.

Despite all this there is no real desire to improve make the water safer or cleaner or accessible to all even though that is something everyone agrees is needed.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Gangs of Pancoran

Its been over 7 years in Jakarta for me now and I have to comment that overall the place for me is a secure one. Of course, I may be living in a bubble or I don't or don't want to see anything but the good.
I remember watching pickpockets in Bali target and steal from a tourist but before I could do anything the guy had just disappeared. I remember my first trip out on the Transjakarta Busway mainly due to someone trying to steal my wallet and of course, the month before I got married, having my house broken into, everything that mattered to me taken and leaving behind a bitter taste of Indonesia in my mouth. 

The night watchman said he was powerless to stop the crime in the area and carried a gun and a knife to protect himself. The fact he was nowhere to be seen on the night of the break-in suggests he was not that useful as a deterrent or as a watchman. Still angry about the break in? Yes and forever will be.

So last night around 2am, I am woken by the wife who is telling me there is a fight going on outside. Thinking a fight being a 2 or 3 people shouting at each other or a wife letting go at her husband, I went out onto the balcony to see what was going on. This running street battle had been raging for at least 2 hours I was told after.

This is my Facebook update from what I saw:  

It's 2 am and the locals have busied themselves into a little mini riot. Chains, belts, machetes, clubs. Night security look a little rushed off their feet. No police that can be seen.

Yep. From my view point I could see a couple of lads with belts fighting at the top of the road. There were stones and bricks lying around, clearly having been thrown and coming down the road was a man with a Machete heading into the fight, however, I never saw him return. Cars and bikes were turning around and all the locals were out looking at the noise and commotion near them. 
Best not meet a man with a sword at 2am.
Photo courtesy of
A couple more people ran by one carrying a makeshift 2 meter long spear with something sharp at the end and then one of the night watchmen came from nowhere shouting and waving his big stick about. I think he must have done something useful as there was some dispersement. A couple of 'pops' from something made everyone run down the road and the locals dive back into their houses and that was pretty much it for the night. The police eventually arrived not en-masse but in a car but the fight had pretty much ended by then and it was replaced by brushes and brooms sweeping the road clean and tidying things up.
This is the stuff the locals fight with, golf clubs clearly for the more affluent street fighter
It appears that there has been running fights for a while now up and down the street at night with some gangs of bored youths and men probably fighting over nothing like normal but the fact they 'tool' or arm themselves up makes it more concerning. 

Still this being Indonesia, the locals will take matters into their own hands and ultimately once the ringleaders of the fights have been caught, they will face a very severe beating or worse by them. 

I am hoping this ends soon, I am sure it will as these things often do. The streets are still far safer than many in England and I am not stupid enough to outside my house at times like those