Friday, January 30, 2015

Hawks on the Side of the Road

Walking down a residential road today, I saw some hawks sitting on a stand outside one of the walls in front of a house. A man on the other side of the street saw me fumbling for my camera and came over to show me how they were willing to perch on his arm. The first one was willing, with a bit of coaxing and a lot of flapping.

The second one, twice as large, sat stoically, unwilling to perch on the man's hand.

W and S, can you use your birds of Indonesia book to try to figure out what kind of birds these are?

I went to eat at a restaurant that had a gallery above it, and I got there early so I went and looked around.

After the restaurant, I almost immediately bumped into a bajaj whose driver wanted to take me somewhere. So I obliged, asking him to take me to Ampera Raya so I could keep trying to figure out what happened to that kompleks.

I had gudeg this evening for dinner.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ask not what your country...

Sate and nasi goreng

There we were, in the traffic jam next to the dedicated lane. I started talking with the taksi driver about the purpose of the dedicated lane (as if I didn't know), trying to get his opinion. Right after he told me the lane was only for buses so that the buses could go fast in traffic, we looked over and there was a flood of traffic that was crowding through the dedicated lane, with a bus crawling along like a wounded elephant among the hyenas (taxis, motorcycles, private cars, you name it). I told the driver I thought the dedicated lane was dedicated only for buses, and he laughed and said it is, but when there's heavy traffic other people drive on it too! For me the dedicated lane wasn't the highlight: it was when I told him a story in Indonesian that made him laugh, and later I made a pun (involving the name of the chain store Indo-maret) in Indonesian that also made him laugh.

At one of the places I went today, I was confronted with a quote in Indonesian, and the more I read, the more it seemed familiar. 

Jangan tanyakan apa yang negara.../Ask not what your country...

The batik table cloth pushes things over the edge, toward too much, in a good way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A second day in Jakarta

Today I had two goals--first to find some stills of a US writer I'm interested in, in some Indonesian government films. Second to go to the Cultural Center/Balai Budaya in Jakarta to see if I could learn about any upcoming lectures. I'd like to get a photograph of a lecturer at the Balai Budaya, speaking to an audience, since that would be a rough facsimile of a photo that might've been taken in the mid-twentieth century, when the writer I'm interested in spoke at the Balai Budaya. Neither one of my goals really worked out completely, but I took some pictures along the way.
This is where I went looking for the film stills. No luck today, but I set up an appt for later to view some materials I was able to request today.

The place with the films was on a street where I used to live, so I decided to walk along the street to where I thought Ampera Kompleks would be.

This is quite a boulevard with green trees billowing.

As I walked, I bumped into an aesthetically-minded wall. It was a wall that had a house with a pool and lawn umbrella sculpted into it in bas-relief. I was disappointed when I took the picture because the wall with the bas-relief wound up looking too much like what it was imitating--so that a viewer might not realize it was a wall.

So I took another pic, this time closer. One of the things I like about this scene is that it places a backyard idyll among the post-apocalyptic ruins on the right and the deep urban corrugations on the left.

I kept looking for the kompleks where I used to live but didn't find it. I did find a kitten, though, and took a picture of it to placate those (many!) of you who have been writing to me that you think this ought to become a cat blog.

Who knows, maybe the old komplex was torn down to make way for this new restaurant. I've never seen a Rolling Stone Cafe, but they're certainly up to the same antics as usual, inciting all kinds of rebellion, encouraging us (if we can't become old fat rockers) to become fat. It's so perfectly couched in the rhetoric of rebellion that I almost felt it was my anti-establishment duty to enter and partake.

It seems that Jakarta is cleaner than it was when I used to live here, but I wanted to get some pictures that would take viewers back to another time. Wish I could get a picture of the smell of kretek cigarettes.

Even along this upscale street, where several governmental buildings are located, the sidewalk still occasionally erupted into scenes like this. I can't look around as much as I'd like, since I don't want to fall into that water.

I wanted to get a pic of something with the word Ampera on it, if I couldn't find the old kompleks. I have fond memories of that komplex, of catching a slimy frog that made it into our screened porch with my brother D (actually, D caught it while I watched), and also fond memories of using an intro to bahasa Indonesia book with my sister E to try talking to some construction workers who were just over the wall, working on a building surrounded by bamboo braces. 

The US-based urban chicken fad has also been imported here. Just kidding. I think the US got it from Indonesia.

After coming up empty-handed from my attempt to find the kompleks, I caught a taxi who took me on a long ride through the macet (traffic jam) of Jakarta to the Balai Budaya. I talked with him for maybe an hour and a half as we strove through the gridlocked roads. At one point I saw a beacon of light: behold, it was a "dedicated lane" for Jakarta's Bus Rapid Transit. I got out my camera to take a picture because I know that people in my home town and specifically in my home neighborhood are interested in discussing such things. I thought I could increase readership if I mentioned things like "dedicated lanes." 

My taksi driver, when he saw me take out the camera, insisted that I take a pic of him so that my friends could know who was the best taksi driver in town. By this time--an hour and a half in--I felt like I could vouch for him, so I obliged.

For the reference of my friends, and for the honor of keeping my promise to him.

I made it to the Balai Budaya. Apparently I hit it on the last day it would be open until April, since it will be undergoing renovations beginning tomorrow (and through April), as the attendants told me. So it was the final day of the final exhibition of the first third of 2015.

I looked around at the art on display.

I imagine the person to the far right is standing about where the author I'm interested in would have stood.

I liked this painting of the rooster

Some of the 3-d paintings in this series were of known people, like John Lennon and Jokowi. Others were of less known people.

The evening ended back at my friend's house, with a plate of rendang, a plate of green beans, and a bowl of rice. I was too humble, though, to take a picture of it and brag.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Arrival in Jakarta

Yesterday I arrived in Jakarta and got a taxi to a friend's house. I imagine many or most people who read this blog will know that I've received a fellowship to spend about six months in Indonesia, teaching at a university in Central Java, on the topic of American culture. In awhile, N, S, and W will be joining me here. I'll be staying in Jakarta for a few days before moving on to the city where my assigned university is at. Today I walked 8 kilometers out of a strange stubbornness not to hail one of many forms of transportation that I might have hailed. Boy it was hot. But I took some pictures as I walked.
The beginning of street scenes

I didn't eat here, but this food stall is named after a favorite food of mine. It does seem like the "food truck" fad in the US is spreading all over the world. I'm just kidding. 

It looks like I've hit Indonesia at the right time--rambutan season?

I took a few pictures at the rambutan stand. You can tell I'm a great admirer.

After I turned off of Benhil, I walked along Jalan Jendral Sudirman, which has glossier traffic jams than Benhil.

I did like this sign, and I wondered what it meant. 

This line of motorcycles never ends

This evening I had a meal of gado-gado and ikan goreng saus kecup

"I was humbled to eat this meal." I say that because I know it's a braggart's convention--analogous to selfies--to take pictures of our food in the 2010s. But I'm not bragging--I just want you to have a window into one of my humblest moments. Ever.