It's Quiet Today
That's because last night was extremely loud as local Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadhan and now they're sleeping off the effects of feasting and driving around banging drums.
Although strictly illegal, the evening started with the bangs and the frequent whooshes and aahs as fireworks were set off throught the neighbourhood. I don't think anybody was killed but in the lead up the police throughout Indonesia did arrest several folk who were assembling them in their houses. The background ambient noise was, almost as usual in the early evening - except at greater length, local preachers praising Allah. Luckily, for we non-believers in the majority faith, only one local musholla predominated.
It's also somewhat quiet because a third of the population have left Jakarta. For the past week and longer it has been nigh on impossible to book a seat on any form of transport, boats, planes or trains, out of the city.
The fat cats have gone to Singapore, China and wherever their passports will take them. Hotels in Bali and Yogya are full, as are Jakarta hotels. The latter are full because domestic staff have pulang kampung
, gone back to their hometowns. There are many families who cannot cope without staff to manage their homes - a sad commentary of the lifestyles of too many.
The modern now annual ritual of mudik
, the return home to pay respect to families and, hopefully, to show off their bling ~ the evidence that Jakarta can make financial dreams come true, can be equated with Christmas. It is the one time of the year when events outside the family circle seem trivial, and when there are special offers in every shop.
Yet it's also the time of the year when the price of staple foods rise and there may well be shortages of fuel to cook with inevitably rise. Fares rise in line with demand and pawn shops do a roaring trade. However, this is when goods are redeemed so that folks back home aren't informed about the daily struggle to survive.
Government regulations insist on employers paying a thirteenth month as a bonus; the past week, as always, has seen demonstrations outside offices and factories as workers demand their unpaid entitlement.
And the havenots have it worse. Desperate for a handout of a mere $3.30, more than twenty poor women die
. About 200 will die on the roads struggling to get wives and children home on a 90cc motorbike. Buses and trucks tumble into ravines or get hit by trains at unmanned crossings.
Somehow, it all seems worth it.