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Ramadan III- An Airing of Grievances


Ramadan has ended. Coinciding with the next New moon and culminating in Idul Fitri, the blessed feast or festival.

As with the onset, there is some disparity about the end of Ramadan.  The government decreed it one day.  Another group decreed it the day after.  They issued a statement saying they meant no disrespect to the government astronomers, but how could they be sure they government observers got it right?  And, so they chose their own day.


The month actually went by really quick.  This is of course easy to say, I’m not fasting. It’s been interesting to watch from the outside.


There is spiritual reflection and quiet, but also a hustle and bustle like the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as people buy new finery and gifts for their families back home in villages.  


Jakarta empties out in the week leading up to Idul Fitri.  They estimate 6-7 million people headed home this week.  The government provided free buses and trains to people.  The people who came to Jakarta are seen as worldly and wealthy and so are expected to bring in gifts from the big city.  Often they’ll return to the city with other family members who want the same chance at the big life and thus the city grows.  


This week, the city is quiet, quiet, quiet.  The three high-rises under construction down the way are dormant as are most places.  There is no 24 hour a day pounding and clanging.  Traffic has been a breeze!  My typical hour-long shuttle ride was just 15 minutes.  Very refreshing and very frustrating to realize how much time I’ve been spending in traffic in the last year.

With the big announcement there are parades and “convoys”  of flatbed trucks with mosques and loud speakers and drums.  The city erupts into a din of singing and speeches and fireworks for hours on end.  For a city with ⅓ of it’s population missing, there is an inordinate amount of noise.

With the exodus, so goes our house staff.  We’re remembering how to cook and take care of ourselves again. This is a good thing.  It makes us appreciate them more.  I texted them a “Selamat Idul Fitri” message.  “Happy festival.”

Our Pembantu texted back “Mohon maaf Lahir dan Bathin” …“Please forgive all my transgressions.’  


I thought this odd.  Maybe they’d been pilfering or they realized how much of my time they consume in the morning by buttoning up all my ironed shirts and now, one year on, it’s too awkward to say anything so we both button and unbutton needlessly.  





But, no.  This is the traditional greeting.  It is a time of atonement for the year’s past transgressions. Like at the Castanza household, there is an airing of grievances and apologies and forgiveness.


Seriously, what other blog will link a solemn holy month with a Seinfeld episode. You can read more about it here. https://youtu.be/c8g4Ztf7hIM



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