Here’s a story about the anniversary of the bombings in Bali.
Have you ever lay on a concrete floor, too tired to do anything to relieve your discomfort and too uncomfortable to actually sleep, the air literally sticking to your skin, ravaged by vicious nyamuk, mosquitos?
Well, you should try it; it means that you’ve had, if not a productive, at least a busy day.
I followed my friend, the journalist and activist, to a discussion in Central Jakarta yesterday afternoon, hanging on to the back of his motorbike as we zigzagged through the chaos of Jakarta traffic until we arrived at the hotel conference room full of NGO activists, academics, and government officials. They were discussing how to best design government policy so that all the seperate and unique Daerah, separate areas that make up Indonesia, can function and provide necessary services in this era of decentralization in the country – without the country falling apart of course. Before Reformasi it was not an issue, because the authoritarian government did not allow for any regional autonomy, but simply suppressed them and extracted wealth from them.
I spent the night with him at his small, 2 room concrete flat in the middle of his South Jakarta neighborhood, playing ping pong in the alley, meeting the neighbors were always outside, grabbing bowls of bakso kampung as the candle lit vendors passed by. Chatting, chatting, chatting. Very few doors in the kampung remain closed very long, especially during the steamy city night, especially during Ramadan when everything comes alive at night. We talked all night, and of course Sahur, the meal and prayer before the fasting of the day begins, is around 3 am. Imam put me on the back of his motorbike once again around 6, driving me through the cool morning air back to the University of Indonesia so that I could go back to class. It’s been a long day.