Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ganesha with skulls

Ganesha without skulls but singing is here.

Photo from Bogor, West-Java, August 2008.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Monkey exercise

Photo of an athlete close to Agra, India, October 2006.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

High on cheroot

Smoke from somewhere at the Inle lake, Myanmar, October 2000.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

In God we trust

This picture tells us so much about the Philippines:

The general trust in God and that he/she is always there to bless a fastly growing population that has the highest smiles per capita on this planet.

Photo somewhere close to San Juan, Batangas, Philippines, March 2003.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Tanked moray eels

Photo of moray eels in a tank, Putri Island, West-Java, September 2008.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

God's two right hands

The right hand of God (above) was 'taken' in Stockholm in July 1990 at Millesgården. The other right hand of God was created by the same artist, the Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and can be visited in Bogor (Photo from August 2008).

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The problem with odd numbers

When you check in into these ‘better’ hotels you get a kind of key (nowadays mostly a plastic card) and a key carrier, the bellperson who guides you to your hotel room. Once you leave your room afterwards you are on your own and you need to find your way back to your room. Usually this is easy because all hotel rooms are numbered and not all hotels have blossomed into monster sleeping places with hundreds of rooms. However, if you happen to be in one of these 5 star monsters, you need to be extra careful. If the monster is a high-rise then there is no need to worry. I mention this because I happened to stay in Bali’s Westin Hotel where there are even and odd room numbers, same as in other hotels, but in Bali’s Westin the distribution is different: there is a wing for odd numbers, and one for even numbers. It’s a similar concept to wing A and B but for more sophisticated people, I guess.

If you are not aware of that as you followed your bellboy and went straight to the bar afterwards, can you imagine the challenge? Half-drunk you return, have reached your floor and now you stand next to your hotel room, let’s say 3404, you get your key card out because 3405 will be the next room to give you access to your private loo (another even number) desperately needed by then. All you see is 3404 is being followed by 3406, you go further to see 3408, and the same even numbers such as 3414, 3416, …3434 are to be found on the other side of the floor. By then people hear you swearing out loud. You walk back, feeling the pain in your bladder to learn that next to 3404 is 3402…. Then you walk faster to try another floor, but same even numbers and not yours. Can you imagine the pain by now? After a few more minutes you run to the reception, but shortly before you see a sign next to one of these even room numbers providing you with the direction to odd room numbers. You walk faster now, and by then you are terribly pissed by such a hotel.

Welcome to Bali’s Westin Hotel, the pleasure is yours.

Odd photo from Westin Hotel, Bali, August 2008.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Inside Jakarta's Sikh temple

Actually, if you see the Sikh temple from the outside you will observe that they don't need loudspeakers to spiritulize their followers.

Photo from Jakarta, June 2008

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Umbrella vendor

Photo taken along the train tracks somewhere in central Java, June 2008.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ripe goldfish

Taxonomically goldfish can't be pregnant, they are egg layers, but can we call such ripe ones twit or twat, that is the question.

The photo above shows that eggs force scales apart which would make it even more difficult for fish to swim backwards.

Photo taken after eternal nightly intakes of drugs (ie Ramadan whistling, drumming, chanting, preaching and other holy things), Jakarta, September 2008.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Swimming? Bring your shoes!

Photo from Putri Island, West-Java, September 2008.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Guard lizard

Why people fancy watch dogs when lizards could do the same job?

Photos of a 2 meter long monitor lizard from Putri Island, West-Java, September 2008.

P.S. See also traces in the sand.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Safe fishing

Surely a helmet is a good as a life vest...

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta, September 2008.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SOS in Ancol

I wasn't quite sure if this fellow was in the midst of rescuing himself or if he just enjoyed swimming in real dirty waters.

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta, September 2008.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Traces in the sand

Any idea, what animal is leaving such traces?

Photo from Putri Island, September 2008.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Shark's bar

If you wish to escape the holy hords you might consider a night at Shark's bar on Putri Island.

September 2008 photo from Putri Island (one out of 1,001 islands), 1 1/2 hours by speedboat from Jakarta.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Artist with his creation

One day it will walk...

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta, August 2008.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pray and eat at night and rest (and pray) during the day

This lucky fellow probably works and rests at the same time. For me that's impossible, a work day is a work day and nobody cares if the holy hords drum you out of sleep as early as 2:30AM in the morning.

The longer I am awake the more I think that the real Mecca is Jakarta.

Photo from Jakarta, September 2008.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Just come closer and smell

Photo from Bogor, August 2008.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Morning glory

Early morning of the National Monument, or Monas, a towering column commissioned by President Sukarno in the early 1960s. Many locals call it 'Sukarno's last erection'...

Photo from Jakarta, September 2008.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Running up the palm tree

Stage one of preparing buko juice.

Photo of Renante, Biga, Philippines, February 2006.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Purely accidental encounter...

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta 2008.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Human newspapers

If human newpapers don't offer the kind of depth you are interested in, then go deeper...

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta, August 2008.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

The artist and himself

Photo from Ancol, Jakarta, August 2008.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fast or food: How to shape yourself?

That Ramadan can be good for the gourmets was noticed earlier; but what about the health conscious, those Muslims who have also adopted fitness or body building as a lifestyle? Well, there is something for them in Ramadan, too.

Ade Rai, Indonesia’s most famous bodybuilder (see above video), an advocate of good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, answers questions in the Jakarta Post of readers. Pak Musclemania's answer to a person who is concerned about himself of losing his fitness level during Ramadan offers an interesting insight about real problems in the holy month:

Assalamu'alaikum Ade Rai,

I am a Muslim who has also adopted fitness as a lifestyle. In regard to the fasting month, I am concerned I might risk losing the fitness level I have built up over the past year.

Are there any tips you can offer your Muslim readers, so that we can still fulfill our religious duties and maintain our fitness? Thank you in advance for your kind reply.

-- R. F. Hidayat

Wa'laikumsalam Mr.Hidayat,

Thank you for writing in. The fasting month of Ramadan is actually a great time for Muslims to lose some fat. Here are some things I recommend you do to minimize your worry and maximize your obligations during the holy month:

At sahur time, have a nutrient-rich meal that gives you enough slow-releasing energy to last throughout the day. High-fiber complex carbohydrates are essential to provide constant energy and blood sugar levels.

You also need to consume lean proteins to support muscle repair and prevent muscle breakdown. At this point in time, you also need a good dose of healthy fats from peanuts or olive oil. I recommend you finish your sahur meal with a handful of peanuts to help you hold off hunger longer during your day.

Do your cardio workout 30 minutes before breaking your fast. That would be around 5.30 p.m. Do light aerobics that bring your heart rate to 2 pulses per second, and maintain it for at least 20 minutes. This is to capitalize on the low-blood sugar levels in your body; an ideal condition for your body to utilize fat as its source of energy.

Break the fast with a few korma (dates), then a similar meal to that of sahur time. A multivitamin and mineral supplement after the meal is also recommended. I think it is quite risky to break the fast with sweet foods like kolak (banana stewed in coconut milk and brown sugar), sugary syrups or softdrinks as you will experience a quick rise and drop in blood-sugar and insulin levels, which will leave you sluggish and drowsy within a couple of hours after the meal.

After Tarawih prayers, you are primed for your workout. All the nutrients you took in when you broke your fast will have settled and absorbed by the body. This may be the best time to do your workout.

After your workout, have a simple carbohydrate drink to replenish your body, a few dates, a good electrolyte drink and a protein shake. Then, 15 minutes after that, have a regular meal with a nutrient content similar to that at sahur time. About one hour after that is the most ideal time to get a good night's sleep.

Allow me to take this opportunity to say "Happy Holy Ramadan".

I always thought that religious life is too formalized and regulated already, but putting body 'fitness' onto it would make life even more faithful. Anyway, have a ‘good night’s sleep’ as Pak Ade wishes but note that during Ramadan the faithful hordes (at least in this part of the Java) start drumming at 2:30AM to get you out of your dreams. As Ade said, Happy Holy Ramadan.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Fast or food, what comes first?

Fasting during Ramadan is about developing compassion for the poor and needy who feel hungry every day. As a spiritually and physically cleansing experience, it is also about separating oneself from the things of this world, concentrating on God, coming closer to Him, building self-discipline, and becoming a better person.

In theory, at least. Or maybe so it was thousand years ago in the desert…

In present day Indonesia, Ramadan seems very often to be associated with… food.

What food for buka puasa (breaking the fast), where to break the fast, the price of food, the variety of food, the abundance of food, the richness of food.

Markets and supermarkets are full of korma (dates), timun suri (a type of cucumber), and blewah (a type of melon), popular fruits for the traditional breaking of the fast with a sweet snack.

Newspapers advertise buffets, a way of breaking the fast together with colleges, friends or family. Ramadan time in Jakarta is chef exchange time for the big hotels. Chefs are flown in from Cairo, Amman, Beirut and Lahore to present their creations; Jakartans are invited to try Arabic, Turkish, Lebanese or Pakistani specialties in 1001 Arabian nights charm.

Since most of these events are celebrated in Jakarta’s four or five star hotels (the ones where you get intoxicants), we need to emphasize that a good Turkish or Lebanese dish deserves a raki or wine respectively. Cheers!!

Photo from Jakarta, September 2008.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Where nature meets

Photo from Bogor's botanical garden, August 2008.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Horse with veil

At least the mane is covered...

Photo from Bogor, August 2008.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Drumming your way into Ramadan

[Picture of a drummer will follow, was too sleepy to get up 'in time' (see below)]

Ramadan in most Indonesian cities started early in the morning of September 1st. The fast began in the morning just before sunrise (imsak), and will be broken at maghrib, just after sunset (17:55PM precisely for Sep l).

In our neighborhood, young boys walked around at about 2:30AM, beating on drums to awaken the faithful (but also us...) who are fasting so that they would have ample time for a meal before sunrise. The whole late night (or was it early morning?) the faithful were singing and praying, only to be interrupted by the morning prayer at 4:45AM.

Very tired on my way to work at 8AM I listened to Roger Water's 'What God wants, God gets...'

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Kampung Islam

September 1st marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in 2009. After having witnessed Ramadan in various countries such as Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Pakistan we (Gü joins in) will now give some impressions on Ramadan in Indonesia. As mentioned in earlier blogs, Islam in Indonesia has some unique features, most notably the extensive use of loudspeakers not only for mosques but also for prayer halls (mushollas), and not only for the calls to prayer.

Since our house is only some 100 meters away from such a (well hidden and very active) musholla, there will be no escape from any Ramadan activities. So we will share them…

In non-Ramadan times, our day starts at 4:45AM with the first call to prayer (2/3 minutes). Sometimes, chanting starts at 4AM to warm people up for the coming prayer call but it usually happens after the first call to prayer and mostly stops before 6:30AM. During ordinary days, musholla activities are reduced to the prayer calls (last one at around 7PM).

During the week the busiest days are Thursday and Saturday when the musholla transmits the entire preaching and chanting between 6:30PM and 9PM, with a short interruption of approximately half an hour. Saturdays is usually a bit less active and recitations could be finished by 8PM.

However, we often experience exceptions to the ‘rules’; last Saturday for instance, chanting started at 7:30AM all the way to 9:30AM.

Diversity is also guaranteed, the muezzin is not always the same, and we are offered quite a bandwidth of voices from melodic, inflammatory to calm.

We call this series Kampung Islam since it is mainly about mushollas which often are quite ordinary houses within the kampung (= neighborhood) with a big hall, a non distinguishable roof apart from the loudspeakers on top as shown in the above picture.

Whether our Kampung musholla belongs to Muhammadiyah or Nahdlatul Ulama (Indonesia’s main Sunni organizations) will become clear upon counting the cycles of the traweh prayers … (another quite unique feature of Islam in Indonesia).

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