Agus’s soaring vision for the future goes beyond cap and trade. He urges Indonesian concession holders to see beyond mere carbon sequestration. “Water, biodiversity, ecotourism, these are things that can be capitalized. If we just focus on carbon, we ignore these other values.”
This gecko sat on our kitchen floor for a full 12 hours.
After a poke, it registered alive but perhaps too young to move.
A quick internet search revealed nothing about the age at which geckos start walking but it looked similar in size to a photograph of a ten-minute-old one raised in captivity.
*Cica is indonesian for gecko.
Handspun batik, Twitter and fighting illegal logging were among the disparate topics that shared a stage over six hours at South Jakarta’s first TEDx conference.
Last week, one of the video-editors from my office got married.
It was a very green affair. Yes, they did use ceramic plates but what I’m referring to is the color, the shade you might associate with the Javanese Queen of the South Sea, Nyi Roro Kidul.
Swimmers and surfers that brave the rough surf of Indian Ocean along Java’s south coast are advised not to wear green. Legend has it that the haughty princess-goddess that lives in the marine depths below sucks those sporting her favorite hue into her murky underworld to serve as guards, servants, anything that will allow her to view their colored clothing.
Aris’s wedding was in Bogor though, many miles inland from Nyi Roro Kidul’s realm. I think the bridal palette had more to do with the Islamic take on the Garden of Eden or the Prophet Mohammed himself. Green was supposedly his favorite color because it sat in the middle of the VIBGYOR range and therefore advocated moderation, according to this informative read from Slate.
The reception took place in a kindergarten at the end of a series of twisted gangs (alleyways off the main road where much of Indonesia’s city folk live).
The newly-weds sat in heavily padded chairs before a wall of leafy creepers.
Her hair was bundled tight under coils of sash. Aris sported a batik sarong over his pants. The loudspeakers outside blared tunes strangely reminiscent of western holiday music.
As guests, we came in, shook the hands of the bride, the groom and their extended families.
Aris asked me when I was going to get married. “Menurut orang indonesia, sudan nikah setahun,” I fumbled. According to Indonesian standards, I’ve been married a year already…
Perhaps that’s a cop out but I’m not sure how else to explain the bearded man I’ve been tromping around Asia with. Living together before marriage is still taboo in Indonesia.
At the end of the wall of handshakes, we turned right and walked down another wall lined with a buffet. Potatoes in red sauce, chicken curry and meatballs with vegetables. Dessert was cupcakes.
Everyone sat under a big outdoor canopy, leaving the couple in the kindergarten. The earth, still drenched from rain the night before, soaked through our sandals as we ate and chatted.
After the food, and another parade through the leafy kindergarten for handshakes, we posed for a picture and went home before the 4 pm rain.
Short and sweet.
Here’s a couple more photos from the day:
Another co-worker and his family
And a guest enjoying a smoke
Earlier this week, a man up the street died.
He was a well-connected banker, judging from the rows of flower-bedecked styro-foam boards given in condolence. Among the well wishers were branches of HSBC and members of the Indonesian government banking system.
A canopy tent was set up, stretching out of the family home and across the street. Java is the most populous island in the world. In the Greater Jakarta Metro area, houses sit snug against one another. Walls are shared. And ceremonies often spill into the streets.
By now, I have steered my motorbike through weddings, circumcisions, engagement parties and funerals; stopping only when hosts walk cups of sweet tea out the door to their guests who sit in fold up chairs on the other side of the street.
This ceremony though was too important for such behavior.
Police stood guard at the head of the road a full 24 hours. Lines of black cars blocked evening traffic one street over.
But by commuter hour the next day, school kids were re-pinning the funerary flower boards to spell their names. “Wiwit” and “Eko” had picked apart “Sri Tatang Purnomo MS.”
And just like that, my memory of Tatang’s funeral went from rows of black Mercedes to a name picked away in jest by children.
Traffic was flowing again.
On the heels of a weekend of protests to the Innocence of Muslims video across the globe, Indonesian Fundamentalist group, Islamic Peoples’ Forum (FUI) and Islam Defenders’ Front (FPI) launched their own demo in Jakarta Monday.
The hundreds’ strong procession—started at a busy roundabout in front of Plaza Indonesia, informally considered ground zero for protests in the Indonesian capital, and ended with lobbing petroleum bombs at the US Embassy. Whereupon the police turned water cannons on the gathered protesters.
I was on a Jakarta errand and stuck around till 1:30 to see the start of the march.
Men, in white combat boots and berets, stood poolside at the Plaza Indonesia roundabout’s fountain. Leaders urged the crowd to run laps, in an attempt “to keep energies up”.
On a truck, baby-faced boys dangled a banner with “Amerika teroris” scrawled across the front. Terrorist America.
“Warriors, gather in the front,” the announcer yelled. “Take a bottle of drinking water if you need it.”
A man, with a green shirt but no arms, milled among the protesters. His face set in a grimace, the better to carry the blue begging bucket held between clenched teeth.
At demonstrations in the past, I have chatted with participants to get a sense of who are the people behind the public message. And these people dressed in white—taking off from work Monday morning and headed to the US embassy—seem particularly interesting.
Today though, as one of only a few women on the scene not in a headscarf, and perhaps the only American (albeit incognito), I chose to remain a silent observer.
By 2:10, the crowd has yelled, washed their feet in the skuzzy fountain and marched on to the US embassy to perform afternoon prayer (sholat) and burn the American flag, as far as I can gather from one of the announcers.
At the last moment, I worked up the courage to talk with a lady in a white jilbab holding a “USA go to hell” sign and a fake Versace purse in the other.
She is a middle-aged housewife who identified herself as Dia S—Indonesian for she. Dia says she joined the march today to be an inspiration to Muslims everywhere.
I asked her if she knew what her sign translated to.
“Amerika, kalian bergila?” She posited. Americans, you are crazy.
On the small island of Hoga off Kaledupa, we share a beach shack with an adventurous Moluccan couple that we met on the last leg of our journey. Karina is from Kalimantan, Putra from Aceh. They met and fell in love in Aceh, where Karina worked for the Peace Brigade. Dating was tough, they say with a laugh, in a place governed by Sharia law where even holding hands in public will land you in jail, or worse.
They now live on the island of Buru in the Mollucas where Karina works on a maternal health awareness campaign for Mercy Corps and Putra, a painter, earns money airbrushing motor bikes. For us, they are excellent housemates and their friendship is an unexpected bonus on our journey.
We snorkel together (them in life jackets strapped on over t-shirts), and cook and eat together. They sleep inside on the big bed and we sleep on a smaller mattress outside on the deck. Even after they (reluctantly) return to the Moluccas, we continue to sleep outside.
The deck wraps around the side of the shack and there we have set up our kitchen. Lined up on the floor are a kerosene stove, a basket of bowls, glasses, and utensils, and two plastic jugs of “cooking” water. Between two posts we have tied a line from which we hang our food: bananas and oranges brought from Bau-Bau, black rice, instant noodle packets, and a pink plastic bag of flour. To a rafter we tied up two pineapples and a clump of long green beans also bought in Bau-Bau.
Just beyond the steps leading to the deck—between the shack and the sea—are two coconut palms supplying us kalapa muda (tender coconuts), which we gulp when the days get hot. In the morning, we mix sweetened condensed milk into our coffee and sip it on the beach as prahus laden with firewood pass by in the shallows.
In the evenings, we slow roast baby tuna over coals of dried-coconut shells using bamboo slats as grill grates. We wash our dishes and utensils in the sea, using sand as our scrub brush. It’s a sweet life. The sound of the tiny waves seep into our subconscious. We slow to the rhythms of island life.
Stepping off the lonely planet
We land on a pile of parrot fish poop
Where sea gypsies hunt tuna by sail
And rooming comes with malukkans
A wooden bungalow once owned by buton royalty
That’s southeast Sulawesi with forts
Not the Himalayan ‘dom
With ethnically cleansed gross national happiness.
An old man poles us into bay, a grandchild in constant tow,
Standing, waiting for play and eats
Out front, the water tints aquamarine to ink
Down below, the fish change sexes
Ovaries turn to testes,
Harem males become dominant she-fish
At night, the water laps in blackness.