A Moment, Please
Around 6pm, jam magrib
, is my favourite time at Jakartass Towers. As the sun dips over the house yonder and the sky turns a golden-pink, the street goes quiet. This is the time when folk believe that ghosts and spirits are abroad, so the hells cherubs park their suzukis and children are taken into the inner sanctums of neighbourhood dwellings. The meals on wheels vendors wait and do not click, bang, rattle or roll their wares.
This twilight zone generally lasts about a quarter of an hour, time enough for me to go and sit on my comfortable front terrace with a cold Bintang. It's my time for musing, to gently cogitate and, if I'm lucky, to scrawl a passage like this.
Woe betide strangers in our midst who sit in air-conditioned splendour revving their engines, or those neighbours opening and slamming car doors whilst loudly bidding their guests goodbye. Now is not the time for me to lose my cool with you.
You have my permission to get underway when the neighbourhood mosques start to broadcast their messages heavenwards. As one fades, another rises in volume. I feel I'm lucky to live at sufficient distance to take some pleasure from their ambient musings.
I feel particularly lucky at this time of the calendar as Ramadan comes to an end. The quiet evenings are twice as long as folk break their fasts indoors, time perhaps for a second cold Bintang. And then the mosques vie in the vigour of their recitations. Rejoice, they seem to say, you have full stomachs. They are accompanied by the farts, crackles and pops of illicit fireworks sent aloft over the kampung.
We have another week of relative peace. Offices and schools are shut so pollution is much less and we can breathe a little easier in a cleansed Jakarta. Families and friends gather together and photographs are taken. Others are published in the national press of empty highways.
It's my favourite time of the year.
Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri.