Thursday, October 23, 2008

Indonesia needs a Band-Aid

Indonesia has had its fair share of disasters. In fact, a lot of people would say that Indonesia is disaster-prone. To be fair, it's partly due to Indonesia being in an earthquake-prone zone, and partly due to the sheer size of the country - it will have a larger proportion of accidents. These disasters are both man-made as well as nature's gifts. Here is a brief listing of some of the larger scale disasters in the past few years:

- Dec 26, 2004 - Nearly 132,000 Indonesians are killed and more than 37,000 missing after a 9.15 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami in the Indian ocean.

- Feb 21, 2005 - At least 96 are killed in a landslide that sweeps through two West Java villages near a garbage dump.

- March 28, 2005 - Nearly 1,000 are believed killed after a quake of magnitude 8.7 hits the coast of Sumatra.

- Sept 5, 2005 - Domestic airliner crashes in residential area of Indonesia's third biggest city Medan, killing 102 aboard and 47 local residents in an inferno on the ground.

- May 15, 2006 - Mount Merapi volcano erupts with clouds of hot gas and rains ash on surrounding areas.

- May 27, 2006 - Earthquake rocks area around ancient royal city of Yogyakarta killing at least 5,000 and destroying or damaging 150,000 homes.

- July 17, 2006 - A tsunami after a 7.7 magnitude quake in West Java province kills at least 550 people. At least 54,000 people are displaced.

- Dec 30, 2006 - A ferry with at least 600 aboard sinks during a stormy night voyage as it travelled between Borneo and Java.

- Jan 1, 2007 - An Adam Air passenger plane flying from Surabaya to Manado with 102 people aboard crashes into the sea off the west coast of Sulawesi.

- Feb 22, 2007 - At least 42 people are killed when fire breaks out aboard a ferry which was heading from Jakarta to Bangka island off Sumatra.

- March 6, 2007 - Two strong earthquakes kill at least 31 people and injure dozens in the West Sumatra provincial capital of Padang.

Now, mind you, these are just some of the more major incidents that Indonesia has suffered. There was also a quake in September of 2007, but as you can see there has been a significant drop-off in disasters since John and I arrived in the summer of 2007. And yes, bringing this topic up does mean that something will inevitably happen (soon) but let's just say that we are grateful. Especially given the fact that the section John and I both work in responds to disasters!

Recently there was a gigantic Lego display at one of the malls here in Jakarta. This thing was huge, it took up a ton of space, and it depicted all sorts of scenes from life in Jakarta, with skyscrapers, traffic, the one park, etc. However, as we moved closer to inspect the detailed scenes, we started noticing all sorts of... guessed it, disasters formed from the Legos! There were ferries half-sunk in the ocean, fires, traffic accidents and plane crashes with trees knocked down. The worst part, however, were the DEAD Lego people around the accidents! Needless to say it was mostly children there that day to check out the cool display....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Weddings-Indonesian Style

Indonesian weddings are a huge part of the culture here. They are usually all-day events, and there are always a TON of guests invited. Depending on how wealthy and well-connected the family is, many weddings can easily have a few thousand guests! Contrary to weddings we're used to, most guests don't show up until after the ceremony. The main focus is the receiving line, in which guests may have to wait an hour or more to congratulate the bride and groom and families.

We recently attended the wedding of one of the Indonesian women who works with us. Almost all of the Indonesians in our office went, in addition to a few other Americans. It was held at a home in a city about 2 and a half hours' drive from Jakarta. Along with our American coworkers, we made sure to arrive late as that was what we were advised to do. However, apparently arriving late is still arriving very early! Seeing as we knew no one there but the bride, we were anticipating the arrival of our Indonesian coworkers. They (mostly women) had spent all day at the salon getting their hair and makeup done and dressing up. They finally showed up around 4 hours after the time on the invitation, and only stayed about an hour and then split! It was a great opportunity to see what a real Indonesian wedding is like.

This last picture shows the happy couple and all of her coworkers. You'll notice almost all the men are wearing the traditional Indonesian batik shirt. Batik is a method of dyeing fabric, and it is actually considered a national art form in Indonesia. Men wear these shirts to just about any formal function, which makes getting dressed pretty easy for them!