A Hint of Humility I won't talk about work, although clues to what I do can be found in my links and occasional topics.
Relaxation Another thing I won't do, can't do, is walk in the park, which, according to the Indonesian Heart Foundation, would be good for you ~ if you could find one. "We call on the new government to pay more attention to healthy lifestyles by providing open spaces for the public, such as soccer fields and public parks, and by supporting education policies that highlight the importance of a healthy life," YJI chairperson Nerry Aulia Sani said on Friday.
What people do do for 'relaxation' is to go to shopping malls. Today's Jakarta Post, the paper one that is, has a Focus on Kid's World (sic). There's a photo of a couple of nannies looking extremely bored whilst 2 or 3 kids ride plastic bunnies. "In order to play a game, a child must buy a coin. (eh?) One coin usually costs Rp.1,000. Smaller children may prefer riding the electric-powered horses, big birds or cars that come to life with the insertion of a coin. Those looking for a 'fight' always have the option of video games, through which, at the push of a button they can throttle the enemy. Alternatively, they could drive at full speed along a virtual highway.
And so we inculcate adult behavioural norms.
And adult values are also reflected in bloody awful TV 'game' shows. "Here's Rp 10 million. Spend it all in half an hour. Whatever you buy is yours, any cash that is left must be returned," the show host tells an unsuspecting person, usually someone living in abject poverty. Flabbergasted, the poor man, who does not earn as much from a year's hard labor (perhaps even from two), embarks on a spending spree.
Thirty minutes later the exhausted, yet triumphant, person returns to his shanty. Four men carry a freezer, another a microwave as helpers lug boxes and plastic bags filled with superfluous luxuries. The sudden star of the show parades a cellular phone before his envious but cheering neighbors.
Alas, as the closing credits roll, the single electrical fuse in the one-room house short-circuits as the microwave is plugged in. Unfortunately, the man has nobody to call on his flashy cell phone because no relatives have a telephone.
It's OK though. The audience had a good laugh watching the frantic buying spree, oblivious to the likely fact that ... the family probably does not have cash to buy food next week.
Ramadhan Rules OK In the face of public condemnation at their perceived connivance at last week's acts of intimidation and extortion conducted at evening entertainment spots generally used by expats, the police have finally arrested some, but not all, of the perpetrators, the Islamic Defenders Front, good Muslims one and all. Actually, that last bit is me being cynical as these thugs have been condemned by the National Ulemas and a rival gang, Pancasila Pemuda, who were Suharto's vigilante group.
That the various bars reopened the following day with extended opening hours, until 1.30am, indicates that the whole episode was a turf war.
Australia, however, is worried about more raids and has upgraded its travel advisory.
Politics President SBY has authorised a crackdown on corruption and told state prosecutors he would closely monitor their performance and punish any wrongdoing. Jakarta's Governor Sooty has (surprisingly?) said that he has banned city officials from receiving Idul Fitri, Christmas and the New Year gifts from parties who might be trying to influence them.
This signal does not seem to have reached the old forces of KKN. We are already seeing a power struggle between a President mandated by the electorate and Legislators who assume that they're mandated by themselves. Whilst the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) are prepared to serve under a civilian Minister of Defence, the House of so-called Representatives (of the opposition groups, Golkar and PDI-P), who have yet to start actually working as they're too busy carving up the plum positions, will not accept SBY's choice of TNI chief.
Until the political elite learn to stop behaving like kids in a shopping mall play area and stop patronising the electorate, we will all suffer. Is it too early to start thinking about the next round of elections?
John Peel R.I.P. The importance of John Peel to Brits cannot be underestimated. He was a "hugely sensitive man who cared very much about his music and his family, but also about how he was regarded by others". The eulogies continue in today's Sunday supplements. His own words can be read here and here.
Through the release of Peel Sessions of often obscure bands on CD, he came to be known throughout the world, even the USA where "aside from a short-lived syndicated program in the early '90s, Peel hadn't appeared on American radio since he spent a few years in the States in the mid-'60s. American music fans listened to him anyway via the Internet broadcast of his BBC show and, before that, shortwave broadcasts of his BBC World Service program and tapes forwarded by kindly friends in the United Kingdom."
If you don't know what he sounded like, or just want to recall his deadpan and occasionally shambolic delivery on your PC, download some MP3s here.
Charlton The less I say about this week's performances the better for me so over to you Inspector Sands and the others who had to pay.
Finally, I hope I can post this online easily. Blogger.com has apologised to we bloggers. "Thank you for being patient, we know slow sucks." The eradication of corruption and poverty, and the construction of parks are more important issues than voicing our individual concerns online, but a hint of humility is to be treasured.
Staying online It's rare that Jakartass gets a skinful of Bintang enlivened with intelligent discourse ~ yes, the two can go together. O, frabjous joy, was how I greeted 'Er Indoors when I eventually returned to Jakartass Towers. She was not amused.
The main topic of conversation over the course of the evening in Bugils was the democracy of blogging, the effort involved in producing pearls on a daily basis, and the potential, or lack of it, for earning an income from the internet here in Indonesia.
Of interest to your correspondent is that most of the protagonists have websites in early stages of development. Bart, the gaffer, now has c.5,000 subscribers to the Indonesian Expat Newsletter which does generate an income. However, his Bugils website is currently 'undergoing renovation'.
All my school reports had the comment 'Has ability, could do better'. That phrase and the word 'potential' sum up both Indonesia and Fabien's site, City Control. The idea is to create single click access to booking services such as golf courses, hotels, taxi companies etc., whilst incorporating 'what's on' information. This is a fine idea yet to reach fruition; the site hasn't been updated since June 2nd.
Information needs sharing. I'm not at all sure that it should be sold. If it is, then editorial control is necessary and that isn't particularly democratic. I have the feeling that what is needed is an Open Guide, such as available for Londoners, which is open source and built according to the interests of its users and subject to a Creative Commons licence, as is this site.
The one thing which was agreed last night is that we have a synergy of interests; we are all expatriates resident in Jakarta for the foreseeable future. We have made a long-term, possibly life-long, commitment to this country and wish to make a contribution to the quality of life here. Bart, the Reveller and I also have a love of language; the internet affords us the opportunity to write and be read. Expect increased linkage between our sites and a pooling of thoughts in Jalan-Jalan Jakarta, a project initiated by the Reveller and I which has been slowed down by the Reveller's need to rebuild his computer. Expect developments, however, over the next few days.
We hope, too, that Soupy, a freelance writer who, to my knowledge, has absolutely no connection with Man U. or Arsenal (or, indeed Crystal Palarse) will contribute her idiosyncratic view of life here.
It really and genuinely pisses me off that I can rarely log on to Indosat in order to send my emails. I generally get online with Telkom in order to download web pages and incoming mail, but my monthly bills are exorbitant. Yesterday, both Indosat and Telkom announced record profits; Indosat's doubled to $152 million and Telkom's rose 14% to approx.$400 million.
Of the 50 emails sent to me so far today, 44 have been spam. As soon as my credit with Indosat turns into debit I shall use the PostCast Server, which is an SMTP mail server program that completely replaces your ISP's SMTP server. The free version does me nicely and can be downloaded here.
Finally, a word or three to a couple of readers. Firstly, dj wrote to me offline as follows: I have just opened your blog and closed it very quickly in disgust. Hunter Thompson? P.J. O'Rourke? Unreadable the one, totally cynical the other! Bah, humbug. Your choice dj, but I'd really really and genuinely have appreciated it if you'd used the Comment facility, thereby allowing others of my esteemed readers to have responded with refutations.
And Hi to Charby who was upset not to have registered my 10,000th hit. I would write to you offline if I could find an email address in your profile. I reckon that 10,006 is pretty good, so if you'd like a CD for Xmas containing loads of esoteric music, mainly bootlegs, which I've mentioned through my links and posts ~ I note that you'll listen to most stuff, and a photo of me, then do drop me a line.
They have large brains. Two of my favourite contemporary commentators on American affairs, generally of state, are coincidentally (?) featured in today's Independent.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Back in June, when John Kerry was beginning to feel like a winner, we had a quick rendezvous on a rain-soaked runway in Aspen, Colorado, where he was scheduled to meet a harem of wealthy campaign contributors. I told him that Bush's vicious goons in the White House are perfectly capable of assassinating Nader and blaming it on him. His staff laughed, but the Secret Service men didn't. Kerry suggested I might make a good running mate, and we reminisced about trying to end the Vietnam War in 1972.
That was the year I first met him, at a riot on that elegant little street in front of the White House. He was yelling into a bullhorn and I was trying to throw a dead rat over a black-spike fence and on to the President's lawn. We were angry and righteous in those days, and there were millions of us. We kicked two chief executives out because they were stupid warmongers. We conquered Lyndon Johnson and we stomped on Richard Nixon - which wise people said was impossible, but so what? It was fun. We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like a river. That river is still running. All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.
PJ O'Rourke Which country should the United States invade next, and why?
Canada. It's close at hand. We're used to the weather. And, although we don't know much about internal Canadian politics, I think we're better informed about them than we were about the situation in Iraq. Plus, they have a nice ethnic conflict between the English- and French-speakers, which we could expect to erupt after an invasion.
Hobbits don't News that Australian and Indonesian scientists have identified a new and completely unexpected species of human, which was only a metre high and had a small brain should not have surprised anybody.
John Peel has been part of my soundtrack since I first listened to him back in the mid-sixties presenting Perfumed Garden which was broadcast from the pirate radio station, Radio London, moored off the Essex coast.
He was like a brother, turning us on to the latest sounds not to be found down at the local record shop. There was a sense that his choice of music was good for you. He played what he liked and not what the record companies were trying to sell. We didn't always like his choice but we could always expect to have our ears opened. He was a friend alike to musicians, see below, and fans.
All we have now are the memories; the soundtrack he gave us need not be one of nostalgia. We can continue to explore the musical avenues and by ways he signposted for us.
There is nothing I can say which will ease the sense of loss. This is the hardest post I've ever tried to write. We'll miss you, John. I hope you enjoy the celestial choirs.
Robert Wyatt improvised lyrics to Moon In June.
Soft Machine live session, June 10 1969
I can still remember
The last time we played on Top Gear
And though each little song
Was less than 3 minutes long
Mike squeezed a solo in somehow
And although we like our longer tunes
It seems polite to cut them down
To little bits
They might be hits
Who gives an afterall
Tell me how would you feel
In the place of John Peel
You just can't please all of the musicians
All the time
Playing now is lovely
Here in the BBC
We're free to play almost as long
And as loud
As a jazz group
Or an orchestra on Radio Tree
There are dance halls and theatres
With acoustics worse than here
Not forgetting the extra facilities
Such as the tea machine
Just along the corridor
So to all our mates like Kevin,
Caravan and the old Pink Floyd
Allow me to recommend Top Gear
Despite it's extraordinary name
Yes playing now is lovely
Here in the BBC
We're free to play almost as long and as loud
As the foreign language classes
And that John Cage interview
And the jazz groups
And the orchestras on Radio Three.
Hatfield and The North session, 1974
There's lots and lots of radio shows
Most of them are boring.
We'd like to recommend to you
A show you've been ignoring.
When you next have company
Folks are dropping round for tea
Relax awhile, tune the dial
John Peel's Top Gear
It's great, never fear.
Turn it on immediately
It's rather wonderful, you'll agree. Andy Partridge spoken intro to Peel session, 1979.
Hello. My name's John Peel and tonight I'll be playing tracks by The Slute, The Slot, The Groan, The Exploding Truss, the Blues Bastards and one from the Geckos ... er ... Hubert and The Pile Zone, The Ear, The Nose, The Throat, The Catterwallies From Hell are here ... er ... and the inevitable Groin.
Er, a couple of tracks by up-and-coming beatnik groups tonight, Frank and the Sandalmen, er, and the Goatees. Er, the Goatees incidentally will have you trading in your parkas and Aran T-shirts for berets and sloppy joes within twelve month I assure you.
So, onto tonight's first guests and they're XTC who, by the way are here to answer all allegations that they're 1979's answer to, the Barron Knights. Well, see what you think ...
Paul Morley I thought John was going to live for as long as we needed him, as long as we needed his sanity, integrity, wit, love of music and love.
No Thugs In Our House With thanks to XTC for the title, I'm very pleased to report that Charlton are bottom of the league, the League of Crowd Thuggery that is.
I wish the same could be said for the forces of (Islamic) law and order here. Following the trashing of bars by the self-styled Islam Defenders Front (FPI), it is reported that the National Police have yet to 'interrogate' any of the thugs. A full eye-witness account of the intimidation and extortion that occurred on Friday night will be posted on the Jalan-Jalan Jakarta blog once the Reveller's computer has been rebuilt. This is the result of built-in obsolescence rather than vandalism.
Indonesia has a history of thuggery, not all of it self-imposed. Indonesia during World War II was witness to many colonial atrocities in the first three months of the Japanese invasion, which is not generally known.
This site is dedicated to the men and women survivors and also to the fallen comrades. This is not a political statement express or implied, rather an objective view of what really happened during the first three months of war. There are interviews with survivors as well as documented operations on this site.
One group of Indonesians who felt downtrodden were those of Indo-European heritage. One family's saga set in its historical context can be perused in Mike and Astrid's very well-presented website.
Finally, one form of thuggery we all object to is being spammed. I'd like to know why Indosat, my ISP, can't install some kind of firewall and focus on improving its service to those of us who've been paying them lots of money for years. Why should 90%+ of my mail be a total waste of time? (I don't actually download spam as I use the admirable Avirmail to delete unwanted emails on the servers I use.) Their answer, of course, is to focus on increased revenue and profits from those who have to make do with cellular phones rather than old-fashioned landlines.
Now wash your hands please I'd like to write about Jakarta's museums, but there's little information online. This site mentions a few, but comments more on those outside Jakarta. Perhaps Indonesian-Tourism.com is too malu (embarrassed) to mention the Cannon Si Jajur in Fatahillah Square, outside the National Museum. A close examination of the photo will show you why it is popular with infertile couples.
Streets ahead Strolling back home from the local mini-mart with Our Kid yesterday, we passed the last remaining patch of empty space. He expressed the hope that it wouldn't be built on; where can kids play, he asked, in the road?
We don't live on a main road, and our back street isn't wide enough for double-parking yet few are the motorists who drive gently with regard for residents and pedestrians. We may have to build a polisi tidur (sleeping policeman) to slow things down so our kids can play street football or badminton. As it is, I rarely see games of tag or similar street games. The current local craze is marbles, a game which can be played in confined spaces.
Play provision is commercialised here; for example, the Ford Motor Company has issued a press release regarding the customer service in their showrooms. One glance at the plastic play pens tells me that their approach is one of 'children should be seen and not heard', especially when there is a sale to be made.
Sports in Indonesia are of little significance given that this is, at c.220 million, the fourth most populous nation. Spectator sports can, albethey non-participatory, provide the communality which actually playing offers. It is to be hoped that Peter Withe, appointed coach of the Indonesian FA two months ago, can fulfil his vision. "The biggest thing that we must change is the attitude and mentality of the players."
Taking part in sports and play activities is essential in developing teamwork and social relationships. They are inseparable too in understanding one's local community. We learn through play; if there are few facilities for our children, then how will society function? University studies into the interaction of children within their local environment in Indonesia seems to be more prevalent in the UK than here, but they focus on the desperate needs of homeless children who are, unfortunately, the only ones with access to the streets.
Most projects offering practical support to street children arise from individual compassion, drive and vision rather than mere research. It disturbs me a little that in Indonesia there is a reliance on foreign expertise such as Save The Children Fund and VSO. I sincerely hope that the short-term input and energy of westerners, such as Our Man In Hanoi, with skills and enthusiasm to offer, translates into long-term community gains such as local awareness and community responsibility.
The welfare of children depends on all those who have a concern for the future; some of the participants may be seeking consumers for their products whilst others may have purely altruistic motives. Whatever the motivation, successful partnerships, such as this one, are streets ahead of those who only care for personal or corporate aggrandisement.
Music to get rid of unwanted guests by I choose my aural background to match my environment. It's rare that Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony or anything on the ECM label is in tune with my mood.
Whilst tapping this post out, I'm grooving to Beefheart's Magic Band playing the John Peel radio show last July. This review of their history should give you some idea of my mental equilibrium, or lack of one.
A visit to the blog of another blogging Brit abroad, amBLOnGus in Austin, Texas, alerted me to the possibility of adding to my store of more appropriate musical sounds.
Apparently Jandek played his first gig ever at the weekend. For 27 years the man had been a complete mystery, sending albums of desolate, mostly tuneless wailing and guitar strumming into the world from a post office box in Houston, refusing to be interviewed, photographed or give any information away about himself.
No-one knew if Jandek was his real name, if he was the person seen collecting the checks from the Post Office box or how his label, "Corwood Industries," was funded. A cult naturally developed, and even those who find his music not just unpleasant but genuinely disturbing are fascinated by him and seek out every piece of data available. I don't know if anyone truly enjoys his work, but there's something about it that pulls people in, not because it's 'so bad it's good' but because it manages to be both entirely detached from anything else and at the same time immediate and graspable, a raw feed from some place deep within the human psyche. (Some Jandek MP3s here or herefor the newly curious.)
So, I have downloaded several and can only agree with this reviewer: Compared to 'real' pop music, Jandek's songs are terrifyingly ugly; in the context of his decades of persistence, the range and mass of his work, he's released 37, count 'em, albums, they become intensely beautiful and meaningful. They are absolute, pure self-expression, an unfocused, unlit snapshot of his entire adult life.
This particular musical journey got me to musing about other cacophony I have been fond of. Without forgetting Mrs. Miller, my thoughts turned to the Portsmouth Sinfonia. The idea was to create an orchestra of people with little or no experience on the instrument they were playing. Art student James Lampard was one of a dozen founder members. "I went out in the morning, bought a saxophone and tried to play it at the first rehearsal that afternoon."
In creating the resulting album, The Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics, the ensemble brought their own philosophy to the recording studio. "There were no second takes," Lewis explains. "If you hit a wrong note, it was down for perpetuity." Such joyous errors litter the record.
Listening to it again, one might be forgiven for thinking that Richard Strauss wrote Also Sprach Zarathustra with the Portsmouth Sinfonia in mind. Their interpretation of the William Tell overture is reputed to have changed Leonard Bernstein's attitude to the piece for ever.
In 1974 they played the Royal Albert Hall. "It was amazing. The press coverage had been incredible. Here we were, about to play one of the greatest music venues in the world. There was a feeling of walking on air. Then we got on stage and thought, 'What the hell are we doing here?'" A thought probably echoed by a group of unprepared American tourists who left after five minutes.
By the time of the Albert Hall event, the orchestra's ranks had swelled to 82 with a number of luminaries among them; Gavin Bryars was in the cellos, along with Michael Nyman (euphonium) and Brian Eno (clarinet).
There is one track featuring the Sinfonia on Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), a track which also features the very wonderfully musical yet idiosyncratic Robert Wyatt. Robert's Rock Bottom featured Ivor Cutler who achieved fame, of a sort, when he appeared in the Beatle's film Magical Mystery Tour.
When he was fifteen he thought, "I'm going to be a composer. I'm going to make simple but strong melodies like Drove or Schubert." I've got a thing which I call my first Piano Concerto and it's only in three lines, because I didn't know what a concerto was. I took it to school and showed it to the music teacher and she was knocked out. It was a load of rubbish. Then I did a serious one called "Funeral Bells", because being a humorist I'm naturally a lugubrious kind of bloke, and suicide always has a big attraction to guys like me.
Every blogger tries to find something original to say, not always with success. Most of us try to put a personal slant on our pre-occupations. As a Brit abroad, I try to present vicissitudes as they impinge on a log-term expat; because I like my virtuous persona, I leave the vices to the Reveller.
An expat is essentially an observer, so I generally refrain from deep and meaningless analyses of the political fray, which is not to say that I am uninterested. It's just that others seem able to provide them better.
Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday by Simon World, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Previous editions can be found here.
The current edition contains Afghan's President at 30, questions over control North Korea if it collapses, China's lack of progress in fighting poverty, is OBL in China and plenty on Indonesia's new President, just for starters...
SE and Other Asia Megawati's sulking. Myrick is not impressed. More importantly is what will SBY do now? Pieter wants him to tackle the economy and corruption first, not terror. Winston has a very thorough look at the task ahead and Jakartass has a poll of what the public want him to do. Agam was on the ground during the inauguration. Macam looks at SBY's cabinet.
The Big Durian In 1800, 10% of the world's population lived in cities. Nowadays that figure is around 50% and growing, helped by relentless migration to places such as Jakarta and São Paulo. Inequality, disease and environmental degradation seem to be everywhere, which makes it odd that the city is still the place where most people choose to live. This is from a review in the Economist of a recently published tome, Cities by John Reader. The Guardian says: Polluting, parasitic, overcrowded and violent: cities have always been popular with humans.
Fellow expats here are cordially invited to have a look at and contribute to Jalan-Jalan Jakarta, the Jakarta-specific blog. This has been set up by the Reveller and Jakartass in order to provide a forum for constructive criticism and an index of possibilities towards making the Big Durian a better place for us all.
So, we have a new president But what should we call him?
And what should be his top priority in the first 3 months?
The Jakarta Post has been conducting an online poll and the following are the latest 'results' I gleaned:
(Total votes: 2770)
Corruption eradication: 27%
Just why pundits think much can be achieved in just 100 days, beats me. What this country needs is some long-term thinking, not short-term goals. At least SBY agrees with me.
Megawati can be praised for ensuring a fair election. That she couldn't be bothered to meet SBY before his inauguration and preferred to spend the day pottering around her garden is probably because she didn't want to get stuck in the traffic like the rest of us. However, Hasyim Muzadi, Megawati's running mate in the presidential polls, said at the ceremony that his former boss's absence reflected the fact she belonged to a different political era. The New Order is now old hat.
There's little point in me commenting any more; I didn't have a vote. I just hope that the next few years don't prove the old adage that whoever you voted for, the government got in.
Trees' Company 1. Yesterday, a week after Wangari Maathai was deservedly awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace (which are inseparable), the Jakarta Post published a photograph (not available online) of Hutan Kota - Pemuda (Pemuda City Forest) in Ciburbur, East Jakarta. The caption was simple: A large building is under construction in the 10-hectare Pemuda City Forest. There was not a single tree to be seen.
To residents of Jakarta, this is so commonplace that it fails to shock. What does raise eyebrows today is the news that the City Parks Agency is buying up six slum areas in order to add to the 54 community parks. It's nice to know that there are some positive initiatives to be found here.
2. Some twenty years ago, I hopped on a Greyhound bus in San Francisco and headed north to Oregon; I wanted to be dropped off en route so I could hug a redwood tree. It was winter, so the bus didn't stop in Sequoia National Park. But I did spend a very pleasant sociable evening in a Eureka pub, with a gift of a six-pack for the return bus ride south.
3. Haze is still shrouding much of Indonesia and Malaysia. Until the rainy season arrives and dampens the ardour of those responsible for the denuding of this country, then we must support the efforts of NGOs here such as WALHI and WARSI and all those who think globally.
What a game! And I don't mean Andorra beating Macedonia in front of a massive crowd of 116 for their first ever World Cup victory.
No, I mean Charlton demonstrating that they belong in the Premiership; the 1-1 draw was totally absorbing and I've felt energised, in spite of my sleep deprivation, all day. It was a very full house of 26,553 and a global audience of ??
Meantimes, here's another game you can play at home.
Can you manage a big city like Jakarta or, in this case, London?
A Special Weekend A weekend can be a bit of the old same old same old. Spending the week in traffic usually means that going out has to be for a purpose. This Saturday was Our Kid's birthday so, also needing a new computer keyboard, we set off for Mal Ambassador.
I'd never been before and I don't want to go again. Oh, we got the keyboard okay, but then it was time for the birthday meal. We went to the Food Court, grabbed a table which gave us a magnificent view of the Marriott Hotel, scene of last year's bomb outrage, and ordered food from one of the fast food outlets. 'Er Indoors, who was out with us, is fasting, so we had to wait, with a hundred or so others, for the magic moment when drinking, eating and smoking is allowed in public without being accosted by the self-styled Islam Defenders Front.
The noise level was intolerable; TVs hung from the ceilings 20 metres apart, all tuned to the same channel so that we could all hear the call from the televised mosque at 17.48 precisely, jam magrib, the time to break the fast. We couldn't hear ourselves speak, nor could anyone else, so we all shouted. It quietened down when the pre-ordered food was brought to the tables. My meal of fish and chips was served on a polystyrene plate with plastic cutlery and was worse than any airline meal I've ever been given.
At least we got home for the eagerly anticipated clash between Birmingham and Manchester United. This proved to be an exciting nil-nil draw. I love guts more than flash, although Savage belied his reputation with a sophisticated performance.
Of greater import to Jakartass, however, is tonight's match, live on TV, between Charlton and Newcastle. Of course, the result is important to all Addicks, but what makes this game special is that it is billed as Charlton's Centenary Match.
Never a 'fashionable' club, having endured bankruptcy followed by homelessness, since it has always been rooted in the community, one I grew up in, Charlton has risen, phoenix-like, with the support of genuine fans, to become the very model of a professionally managed community business.
I first went down The Valley 47 years ago, so, although not being of an anal retentive nature, I was still pleased to be able to put names to the faces of half the greats depicted here, some in black and white.
Thanks to the power of the internet, I can relive my memories. Thanks to satellites and the global reach of TV, I'll be at the Valley tonight. I hope we win; if we don't, I'll still be able to say 'thank you' for giving me a lifetime's pleasure.
It's Ramadhan again From the Press Association today: Indonesia began the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan today along with an accompanying tradition - quiet grumbling in the entertainment industry over local edicts to close nightclubs, massage parlours and amusement centres for the entire period.
"We believe this is good for everyone," said local Muslim lawmaker Slamet Nurdin. "There is much support for this as most Muslims want to focus their minds on fasting."
Ignoring the fact that 20% of the population is not Muslim and that Indonesia is supposedly a secular state, the majority of the population doesn't live in sight or sound of a nightclub, bar or massage parlour. It would appear that in their zeal to demonstrate their strict adherence to the precepts of their faith, some will actively seek out 'sin'.
The following is from a local expat bar operator: (My bar) has never been closed, not even for one day, since its opening in January 200-. A few weeks ago I went for a beer in Jl. Jaksa, to this little old bar named Romance. There I ran into Pak K., one of the city officials who normally comes to (my bar) once a year with Ramadan approaching to collect his yearly bribe. At first I didn't recognize him as he was not wearing his uniform. I caught him red faced, not with his pants down, but with a beer in his hands and two young girls at his side. The girls were clearly not colleagues. They were drinking black beer and Red Bull.
Enthusiastically I walked up to Bapak K. and shook hands. The girls, in their early twenties, looked up in surprise. Pak K. introduced me to the girls and offered me a beer. "He is the owner of (my bar)." he whispered to the girls. The girls looked with their mouths open as if I was more important than the president. Pak Karman quickly spoke a few sentences. "This year no problem with (my bar). We will help again. Same deal as last year. Ok?"
Bogor off It took me about 30 minutes to get to the office this morning. Quite a nice day, especially knowing that I'll have broadband access when I return after this weekend, a long one.
Tomorrow is the start of Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month. Our kid, who turns 8 on Saturday, has decided that he'll participate for the first time. Just how he'll cope with getting up at 4 in the morning, filling up his stomach with sticky rice and other stodge and then only drinking water for the rest of the day until sunset and jam magrib (evening prayers), I really don't know.
With the day off school, I suspect he'll be playing Zoo Tycoon. All day.
It took me about two hours to get home this evening. It seemed that everybody who could was buggering off to Bogor for the initial fast. Traffic was exceedingly slow; the toll road was totally static, yet the parallel road I travel was blocked because all and sundry were forming disorderly three lane queues at the toll gates, thus preventing free movement for the rest of us.
What is it that drives people to pay to enter a traffic jam? The need to join a communal activity or plain stupidity?
Folk should simply indulge in stress free pleasures such as contemplating Keaggy's collection of Rocks Shaped Like Shoes.
Five year $10 billion transport scheme for Jakarta? News that London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, has unveiled a five year £10 billion transport scheme for London, has not made Jakartass, a Londoner, nostalgic for 'home', but it has certainly got me to wondering if Jakarta would benefit from something similar.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear; such expenditure would, but shouldn't, be a honey pot for the politicians and bureaucrats of City Hall. Obviously I'd be living in a fantasy world, and I don't mean Dunia Fantasi, if I thought that such a scheme were remotely possible here.
London now has a decaying transport infrastructure whereas Jakarta has not had a cohesive infrastructure in the nigh-on twenty years that I've lived here. Every improvement, such as air-conditioned limited stop express (patas) buses, has rapidly been overwhelmed by the limited number of routes and the excessive demand on the services.
Bus crews are not paid a 'living wage', so they depend on the number of passengers carried for their income. The bus fleets have suffered from under-investment; 'new' buses, like the commuter trains, are generally second-hand, imported from China and elsewhere. Maintenance is seemingly limited to cannibalism.
For those with a particular interest in London, a .pdf file of the Transport for London Five Year Investment Programme, to give it its short name, can be downloaded here.
The following are my adaptations of its key points which I feel are achievable, with enough political goodwill, here.
* Air-cooled trains
* Rail extensions to (name your destination ~ Kelapa Gading? Tanjung Duren? Soekarno-Hatta Airport?)
* Switch to low-floor buses with CCTV.
* Introduction of low-emission zone by 2007
* Initiatives to encourage more walking
* New pedestrian crossings with priority given to pedestrians. * New street lighting (rather than illuminated advertisements and fairy lights).
* New security measures for trains and stations, inc. no ticket touts
* A cycle network
* Extension of the 3-in-1 scheme throughout the day and to points north, south, east and west.
I'll be posting this, hopefully in an expanded form, in the new Jakarta-specific blog ~ Jalan-Jalan Jakarta. Comments, additions etc. will be more than welcome.
"You may not want to be here." My mate Del was in Jakarta last night and dropped into Jakartass Towers. He's now in Bali, lucky sod, but that's another matter.
In the seven years since he left here and returned to Blighty, we have kept in touch through the swapping of sounds and visuals related to our respective lives. He's content that his artistic endeavours on and offline are paying off. Something that he is particularly enthused about is ambient sounds; to that end, he has set up Soundgrabs.com for overheard conversations, buskers, dogs gnawing bones and similar found sounds.
No doubt, if he gets back in time, he'll try to get to Bruce Nauman's sound installation, Raw Materials, which opens today at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall in London. Emma Dexter, the curator of the exhibition, said that the exhibit's power was in the use of repetition. "It is a combination of meaninglessness and something that says something profound about the human condition," she said. "All human life is here: eating, sleeping, dying ... Nauman has created his own primeval hum."
Adrian Searle, the Guardian Art Critic, went to a preview and has managed to write as pretentiously as Emma: The experience is a little like treading water beyond the surf, riding the troughs and swells of sound, each work another wave. Swept along by an unseen current, you are towed into deeper water, until you find yourself amid a flotsam of old routines and riffs, half-remembered snatches of things, the wreckage of words.
It makes you ... totally aware of the volume of the space and where you are in it. I became intensely conscious of my own body and its orientation - whether I was standing a little to the left or right, closer to or further from one speaker or another, tracking the advance and retreat of different voices as I walked. I found myself looking down much of the time, and walking slowly, like a man who has dropped a coin or lost a beloved.
The notion that sight and sound are related is not modern, as much as MTV might protest.
Which is why, at the bewitching hour of jam magrib (evening prayer time) I asked Del to sit with me on my front porch. As the sun sets, a quick process here in the tropics, Indonesians clear the streets, possibly fearful of the spirit world. Me, I take pleasure in the anticipated silence. There may be a golden, pinkish glow due to the pollution hanging over the city, but the absence of the noise from hell's cherubs speeding by on their souped up 90cc Hondas, meals-on-wheels vendors hawking satay or nasi goreng, pedestrians and, until 7pm, the neighbourhood mosques means that, for as much as twenty minutes, there is a very pleasurable period for contemplation and creative thinking.
Last night, we managed just one minute without the answering of cell phones, the rummaging for mislaid keys and car engines not being switched off. Derek wanted to hear and record a tokay (gecko). No chance; the pollution has wiped them out in urban Jakarta.
Totally tasteless Quote from Michael Palin: People assume that because you've eaten bull's penis or grasshoppers, they must be the worst things you've ever eaten - but more disgusting were those huge plates of food they give you in America. Totally tasteless.
Other tasteless thoughts for Sunday include Megawati still not making a gracious handover to SBY who has asked for a smooth transition. This won't be helped by the appointment of an acting army chief, Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, as a replacement for Gen. Endriartono Sutarto , who has resigned. The appointment of Gen. Ryamizard does require approval from the House of Representatives and this might not be forthcoming as the representatives have yet to start work pending the allocation of offices.
Given that SBY will be inaugurated in just 10 days time, I, and more astute political observers, can only suspect malevolent mischief making.
Back in the USA, college students are pretty open about their political allegiances, declaring for and against Bush. This is a typically tasteless display of bare-faced college humour. Actually, the faces are obscured, so this is not work-friendly.
Jalan-Jalan in Jakarta And so another day draws to a close, a fairly typical day in Jakarta.
Our kid and I squeezed onto a train and headed up to Kota Station.
That episode is worth a separate post.
We had to fight our way off because of people fighting their way on.
I have already posted about that.
We then went by mikrolet (minibus) up to Mangga Dua Mall.
A post about the 'informal' transport services of Jakarta might be a good topic.
I got some cash from the only ATM, out of four, that was working.
The banking service, or lack of it, is a theme worth following up.
Up on the 4th floor we arranged for Our Kid's computer to be rebuilt.
The excellent service we received, again, is worthy of a comment.
After that, we bought 20 pirated DVDs, all on our 'must have' list.
I hesitate to blog about piracy as I enjoy the benefits.
Another mikrolet took us back to Kota station.
The traffic infringements we experienced are not mentioned here.
We then boarded the Busway and headed for Sarinah.
I have often praised this service, and argued for more.
In the Sports Warehouse, we bought Our Kid a couple of badminton racquets.
I've already written about available play spaces, or the lack of them.
I also managed to buy some trainers for casual wear, size 13.
Shopping for Jakarta expats would make another good topic.
We ended up in Ya Udah in Jalan Jaksa.
A good place for lunch and a couple of beers.
All the above are Jakarta-specific; a lot of my posts are not.
From now on, I'll be posting these topics on Jalan-Jalan Jakarta.
This is a subject-specific blog. If you have anything to say about the above themes, or more, please email The Reveller at Jakartablokm.com, who is the webmaster, because there are different icons to click. We believe that with constructive criticism, helpful hints and a general sharing of information we can make Jakarta an easier and more pleasant city to live in.
Mega Corruption I have discovered that the NGO Indonesian Corruption Watch has an English version of their website. You can access it here or among the links on the right for Firefox users, or floating somewhere at the bottom if you're still content with I.E.
Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-ex-President Megawati Soekarnoputri yesterday swore in a team of nine non-career judges which will try high-profile corruption cases involving state officials in the newly constituted Anticorruption Court. The court has the authority to deal with graft cases brought in by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which only deals with cases involving state officials and a minimum of Rp 1 billion (c.US$100,000).
And about time.
So what is the story involving Mega receiving oil-for-profit vouchers from Saddam Hussein?
Firstly, this is not a new story. The earliest report I can find is dated 31st January when the Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, published its list of more than 200 individuals and organisations allegedly given oil by Saddam Hussein's regime. It ran from the Russian Orthodox Church to former French ministers, from the Timber Department in Burma to the British MP George Galloway and on and on.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry has since backed the report, saying the document is authentic and that it is (was) preparing to prosecute people involved in what it portrays as the massive illegal stripping of Iraqi assets under the U.N. Oil For Food program.
Vouchers for tens of millions of barrels of oil, given as presents or bribes or illegal payments to friends and supporters, is how the new Iraqi Government characterises this.
On a list that contained several prime ministers and heads of state, it was easy at first to overlook the presence of the President of Indonesia, Megawati Sukarnoputri. According to Al-Mada she received coupons worth eight million barrels of oil at some point between 1999 and 2002. These vouchers could be resold for handsome profits.
Another name on the list was Amien Rais, the then Parliamentary Chairman and future failed Presidential candidate who was listed as having receiving vouchers for four million barrels of oil.
Neither Mega nor Amien deigned to comment then and I somehow doubt that they'll comment now that this story has resurfaced with the publication of the Iraq Survey Group Report on WMD in Iraq. The Iraq Survey Group, incidentally, was set up by George Bush and run under the auspices of the CIA. Its leader, Charles Duelfer first came to prominence as an appointee of President Bush's father. The report serves to deflect attention away from Bush and Blair onto those countries and politicians who opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Due to the lousy service from our ISPs here, I failed to complete the massive download, but I was busy scanning it whilst trying to do so. There seemed to be many inferences and implications and the use of the word 'possible', so I'll reserve judgement until Mega speaks.
Given that she has yet to concede the presidential election to SBY, this probably means that we'll never know about her relationship with Saddam, if any.
An Invitation I have long pondered the existentialist question of a tree falling in a forest, but there being no-one there to hear it. Does it make a sound?
For all my occasional bleating about the lack of footpaths, parks and playspaces here in Jakarta, no-one seems to be listening. Am I making a sound?
There are very few bloggers writing in English (or Indonesian come to think of it) here. Consider the scene in London, a city of comparable size, albeit with an infrastructure moulded by its citizens and town planning laws which are generally adhered to. For example, Inspector Sands reports on what is happening in my old stomping ground of South East London. The Diamond Geezer, who is a standard setter for community bloggers everywhere, keeps his posts about London here and is providing an evolving overview of a city to be proud of.
The community of bloggers in London is a mutual aid society, covering transport and much more.
Google Open Guide*London and you get 4,300,000 entries.
Google Open Guide*Jakarta and you get 290,000 entries, the majority related to computer nerd stuff.
The aim is to offer a blogging forum with an exclusive focus on Jakarta. Postings will be sorted into categories such as transport, consumer affairs, corruption and whatever seems appropriate to life here. We hope that Brandon, who has a wonderful photoblog, Java Jive, and Bart, who mails out the Indonesian Expat Newsletter to 4,000 subscribers, will feel able to contribute on a regular basis.
If you are a blogger and/or have something to say and write about Jakarta, you are invited to join us.
Please email The Reveller or me, Jakartass. Please include your phone number, and hopefully we can all meet sometime, hopefully at Bugils, Bart's place in Taman Ria.
We have a new President! In case you haven't heard, it has been announced by the General Elections Commission (KPU) that General (ret.) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Ph.D and his running mate Jusuf Kalla won the Indonesian presidential election run-off with 69,266,350 votes, or 60.68 percent of the total valid votes, compared to incumbent Megawati Soekarnoputri and partner Hasyim Muzadi's 39.38 percent.
Neither side is prepared to actually say "ya boo, sucks" or, in the case of Mega, "fuck it" because they have until the end of the week to appeal the result to the Constitutional Court. Apparently, the Court can only find two irregularities, although the Mega camp doesn't accept the results from West Java where nearly 21 million votes were cast. That SBY has a lead of 20 million votes overall means, I feel, that the Mega doesn't stand an earthly and she's a dog in the manger. (Could someone translate this idiom into bahasa for her, please?)
There were 2,405,651 spoiled ballot papers, an astonishing 2.1%, with around 35 million, approximately 23%, of the electorate not exercising their voting rights. Whether that was due to cynicism or sickness, I wouldn't venture to say. Compared to other countries, there was an astonishing high turnout.
SBY has a daunting task; he needs to revive the economy, increase employment prospects and move to eradicate corruption. It is encouraging to see SBY talking about reconciliation: Tema besar kita masih tetap sama, rekonsiliasi. Saya menginginkan seluruh rakyat Indonesia melakukan rekonsiliasi. Kita bersatu kembali. Tantangan bangsa ke depan, harus kita hadapi bersama-sama,
Most will, quite rightly, applaud a successful democratic exercise. Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly last week, said, "... we are proud of this democracy of ours. It is the fulfilment of a universal human aspiration, and yet it is unique to us. It sprang from our native soil, a true child of our culture. It was not imposed from outside, at gunpoint. And it put to rest the debate on whether Islam and democracy can ever mix.
"As the country with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia has proven that Islam can be a bastion of democracy and social justice. Indeed, our deep sense of spirituality inspired our people to resoundingly reject money politics, corruption, terrorism and all forms of extremism. It was also our beacon toward reform."
Now for some headlines from today's Jakarta Post.
Cirebon mayor faces poll bias trial
Dumai mayor named suspect in logging scam
Residents take law into own hands
Tempo receives bomb threat
There is a long way to go, but an interesting journey has begun.
I'm glad I'm staying here.
I've got nothing much to say today so I thought I'd give a plug for Firefox, which I really do rate. There is an occasional flakiness when I've got something like 40 tabs open on, maybe, 4 pages. However, my cookies file is virtually empty, there aren't any popups so there's no need to have an extra programme to sort out I.E. and, most importantly for a non-nerd like me, it's as easy as 1-2-4. Downloading is a cinch; you can pause and resume whenever.
The following is from Mozilla's page of bumph. Experience leads me to, just this once, believe it.
"Beware of spyware. If you can, use the Firefox browser." - USA Today
"Better than Internet Explorer by leaps and bounds." - FORBES
Popup Blocking Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Firefox's built in popup blocker.
Tabbed Browsing View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them. Find out more...
Privacy and Security Built with your security in mind, Firefox keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. A comprehensive set of privacy tools keep your online activity your business.
Smarter Search Google Search is built right into the toolbar, and there are a plethora of other search tools including Keywords (type "dict " in the Location Bar), and the new find toolbar (which finds as you type and eliminates the annoying window that always seems to be in your way).
Live Bookmarks RSS integration lets you read the latest news headlines and read updates to your favorite sites that are syndicated.
Hassle-Free Downloading Files you download are automatically saved to your Desktop so they're easy to find. Fewer prompts mean files download quicker.
Fits Like a Glove Simple and intuitive, yet fully featured, Firefox has all the functions you're used to - Bookmarks, History, Full Screen, Text Zooming to make pages with small text easier to read, etc.
S, M, L or XL-You Choose Firefox is the most customizable browser on the planet. Customize your toolbars to add additional buttons, install new Extensions that add new features, add new Themes to browse with style, and use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines. Firefox is as big or small as you want.
Setup's a Snap At only 4.5MB (Windows), Firefox takes just a few minutes to download over a slow connection and seconds over a fast connection. The installer gets you set up quickly, and the new Easy Transition system imports all of your settings - Favorites, passwords and other data from Internet Explorer and other browsers - so you can start surfing right away.
Pressing Issues Don't believe what you read in the papers seems to be today's message.
Here, the Jakarta Post says, "As members of the fourth estate of democracy, journalists are the mouthpiece of the voiceless and powerless in exercising checks and balances on the government and other high state institutions and apparatus."
Ulin Ni'am Yusron, Jakarta AJI (Alliance of Independent Journalists) chairman, said on Thursday that the absence of a standard salary for journalists here has given rise to "envelope journalists," who compromise their profession with a cash "gift" from their sources.
Jon Snow, the UK news presenter, formerly foreign correspondent, interviewed in the Guardian says, "We are deluging people with information, but no insight, no human connection. This is anti-communication. Information that doesn't connect with the one pair of eyes and therefore doesn't connect with their own living experience. They are emotionally disconnected, inured. They might as well be watching a feature film."
I tend to read 'opinion' rather than hard news articles, unless it's the football results. Thinking of which, TV7 will be showing the Arsenal- Charlton match tonight, live. If I can get reasonable reception, I'll be able to believe the result.
Actually, I can probably tell you that right now, given that the Gunners, who originally hailed from Woolwich, Charlton's catchment area, remain unbeaten for 47 games, including a run of 24 victories at home, a UK record. I merely hope that Charlton can be proud of their performance. What I can't tell you is whether Scott Parker, who defected to Chelsea last January for lots of money but very few games, will, as the gossip has it, return to Charlton. The fans would welcome back the prodigal son, but he'll probably stay.
And that last paragraph proves Jon Snow's point - little information, no insight and very little human connection.
You've got to have a measure of sympathy for Indra Safri Yakub.
Indra's wife died at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM) after a doctor inserted a central venous pressure (CVP) needle into a vein in her neck, which was necessary to administer an anesthetic for an operation the following day. The doctor, however, was not an anesthesiologist. This is but one of a litany of complaints lodged against eleven doctors on the grounds of malpractice. The suit was thrown out because it was supposedly "premature", and furthermore, he was suing the wrong people. It should have been the Board of Governors rather than the doctors. And he has to pay legal costs.
There is no specific legal process governing malpractice suits. The Medical Law was enacted on Sept.7th without a key article on medical malpractice that was included in the draft bill. Instead, the law defines "malpractice" as a case in which an individual commits fraud by posing as a doctor, nurse, health worker or other medical professional.
You've also got to feel sympathy for Anna Kusmanto. Her lawyer said that "Anna had to undergo caesarian surgery on July 9th to deliver her first son. During the surgery, the doctors allegedly broke the baby's right thigh and burned Anna's left leg with a medical substance or instrument." Medistra promised to provide follow up medical treatment, but haven't yet, three months later.
Anna may be luckier than Indra; she's using criminal law in her suit ~ they failed to provide assistance after an accident.
Back in Blighty, the full panoply of regulations issued by the government and Quangos (Quasi-autonomousNon-government Organisations, NGOs, CABs (Citizens' Advice Bureaux ), Law Centres, Community Advice Centres, interest groups, neighbours and, if they're lucky, journalists would secure Indra and Anna some recompense.
Some say that Britain is becoming a 'nanny state'; well, if they mean that there would be a reversion to the Welfare State, with free milk, malt and orange juice for kids, free, or heavily subsidised, education for all, I'm all for it. Rationing meant a sensible diet and all vehicles and TVs only came in two colours and that's what made me the man I am today. Kids don't know how lucky they are; aye, when I were a lad I used do a fifty mile newspaper round up Shooter's Hill, go for a two hour swim at the local lido, do 50 Bob-a-Jobs and all before I woke up.
Today, October 1st, the final part of the UK's Disability Discrimination Act comes into force. This virtually guarantees access to public buildings. What worries me, though, is the risk I could be taking in putting this online. At least I don't have to adopt Diamond Geezer's approach in order to let you read this. Apparently, webmasters are liable if you wrick your neck or suffer finger fatigue syndrome whilst surfing the net.
But I'm here, so if you suffer a temporary cranial lesion through reading my pages and you're British, come and get me.
If you're Indonesian, send me a big fat brown envelope and I'll hire a lawyer to represent you. That seems to be the protocol here, although there's no mention of it in the International Audit Protocol governing Health and Safety. I didn't find it in the Under 5's Guide to Jakarta either.
Any changes in the law here will be very welcome. If retro-active, Indra and Anna may yet be treated well and the rest of us better.
It's too late for Namsong Sirilak and Saelow Prasert though. They were executed by firing squad early this morning in Medan. The Thais, alleged drug smugglers, were denied translators at their trial.