Missing out in Jakarta

The month or so that I have been away from Indonesia has indeed been an eventful month in the country. Even a quick check in the news makes it obvious that Indonesians, for the most part, are not bored. Despite that fact that Indonesia holds a special place in my heart, and that it is a place that I know I will be drawn back to again, there are more than a few benefits of being in a different part of the world at the moment.

That is especially so in the capital city of Jakarta, where residents are experiencing the worst floods in the past five years. That is saying a lot, because a normal day during the rainy season can see not only the local bakso vender on wheels but both cars and houses floating down the street.

The trauma of displacement, the threat to public health and the massive damage to property is compounded by the fact that the government seems to be approaching a mood of panic in regards to the possibility of a very serious bird flu, or flu burung, outbreak. Jakarta is currently under a total domestic poltry ban, and the government has been making efforts around the country to reign in backyard farms and the occurence of small scale chicken raising. However, from my experience around Java and Sumatra, a few chickens running around the kampung, the neighborhood, is such a widespread thing that I wonder whether the practice can be changed without being part of a larger shift in lifestyle – and that is for millions of people… Bird flu in Indonesia was, indeed, recently declared a National Emergency.

On the lighter side, I had totally forgotten that the SuperBowl was taking place in the United States this weekend. I should have remembered, since my sister is a proud resident of the city of Chicago, and has made me jealous with her stories of the social gatherings that have been part and parcel of the victorious (so far) march of the Bears. I just received an email from a list that I somehow found myself on, from back in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aparently, CaZbar, a bar popular with the ex-pat crowd in that crazy city, will be serving beer and breakfast, at 6:00 am Monday morning, to coincide with the showing of the big game on the big screen. I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway, but it’s nice to know that the greatest of American indulgences can be an excuse for a good party, even at a Dutch-owned bar on the other side of the world…