Scenes From Ramadan
Another Ramadan has come and gone (ok, ok, I know this was my first). Jakarta was a different place during Ramadan: less traffic, different foods, and greater charity — I saw many more people dropping coins in the cups of beggars and street kids, the spirit of Ramadan. I learned a lot of new things during the month, especially about Islam and I actually wrote a Q&A for the paper about a new book on Islam, see it here.
One of the interesting things I learned during Ramdan came from a story we ran in the paper. It’s tradition for kids to receive some cash at the end of Ramadan and people love giving clean, crisp bills. So up near Kota there were plenty of people out with large stacks of new bills. Good thing I had read the article or I would have been very confused about why people were buying money with money.
Indonesian money is very bright and colorful. When I first saw it, it reminded me of Monopoly money. But now, I am used to all the colors and paying with bills as big as 100,000. Though getting a pay check in the millions still hasn’t gotten old.
Most street vendors went back to their hometowns during Ramadan. My fruit guy disappeared for over a month and most things near the office were closed. It’s nice that everything is back to normal — there are so many food choices now that it can be overwhelming.
A lot of squash-type vegetables appeared on the streets during Ramadan. This was a bit weird for me because I associate pumpkins and the like with fall.
One fruit/vegetable named blewah is put into sweet syrupy drinks — a Ramadan favorite. A lot of drinks here come with fruit bits and you get a spoon with your drink. Now blewah confuses me a bit. My friends told me it’s like pumpkin. Wikipedia tells me it’s cantaloupe. It may remain a mystery…a very tasty mystery.
While walking up near the old Dutch part of town I spotted an overloaded bajaj type vehicle full of kids. Of course they all pointed at me and smiled and yelled “bule!” So I smiled and decided to take a photo. The bajaj slowed down and the kids were delighted.
Earlier this week I wrote a story about child and infant stunting in Indonesia, here. I was shocked to discover how high the stunting rate is in Indonesia. The women, both Indonesia and foreigners, I interviewed were truly amazing. They work in villages and educate men and women about proper child care. Some areas of Indonesia have stunting rates above 50 percent. It’s hard to say exactly why. The women told me there are numerous factors including lack of food, poor climate conditions, and local legends. The Indonesian government is committed to work on the issue with EU and UNICEF help so hopefully reductions will be made by 2015, the date they set. I also recently wrote a profile about a young lady who is representing Indonesia at the G(irls)20 conference, an event that takes place before the G20 conference, here. Women are definitely not treated as equals to men here, just look at some of the comments on the story. But I am so glad that there are girls my age who see things differently.
This photo is of busway stubs. You pay for your ticket, and to get onto the busway you pass a man blocking the way who rips your stub, and then people throw them away because no one checks them. They are pointless and a waste of paper. But much like all the stamps on passports and documents, I think they make some bureaucrat happy.
And since a lot of nighttime hangouts were closed during Ramadan, I went bootleg DVD shopping. For less than a dollar you can get pretty much everything. The variety is amazing. I have about six movies that I still need to watch.
Happy weekend to all.