Why Ramadhan Is A Special Time In Indonesia
Overview of Life in Jakarta
Being a person who is born and raised in Jakarta, I have become a witness to what many outsiders find interesting. One interesting thing about life in Jakarta is that servants are very common. I personally have 2 full time servants and a nanny for my baby. Now, for some of you people reading this, you may think that I might be the equivalent of American millionaire, but the truth, unfortunately for me, is far from it. Servants are very common in an Indonesian household, especially in Jakarta. People from all around Indonesia flock to jakarta to look for jobs, all the way from poor villagers to businessmen. Why am I talking about servants right now? well because they make up a huge percentage of the population of Jakarta, and when it is Ramadhan season, they migrate the way birds migrate from north to south during winter. Jakarta is completely deserted during Ramadhan. it becomes a ghost town. This is because majority of the people living in Jakarta are mostly from out of town, they come to Jakarta to live the "indonesian dream".
Ramadhan is a Culinary Dream!
One month prior to idul fitri the muslim population does fasting. Where they do no eat or drink the whole day. They break their fast at 6pm. and they have their last meal, commonly known as "sahur" at 4am. Ironically, inspite of all the fasting going on Indonesia, Jakarta in particular , becomes a culinary haven...at 4am of course
In normal days Jakarta is asleep at 4am, but during lebaran season jakarta turns into Anthony Bourdain's wet dream. They open food festivals everywhere...at 4am. I do not join and go to these festivals, because I am not a moslem and I do not fast, however, there are many culinary enthusiast from all walks of faith who enjoys these food festivals though.
One dish that is very common during the lebaran is Kolak. Kolak is an indonesian desert that pretty much appears out of thin air in every household in indonesia during the lebaran season (seriously just like magic..one day no kolak, tomorrow kolak everywhere!!!). It is made with Palm Sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaf for added flavor. Fruits such as banana can be added to it and then it is called Kolak Pisang which translates to Banana Kolak.
This is How To Make Kolak PIsang If You Are Interested
No Maids? RUN!!!
Some of you must be wondering why I decided to point out about how common house servants are in Indonesia when I was describing our way of life in the beginning. Well this is where I explain. You see during the Ramadhan season, our maids go back to their villages and as such there are no servants in our house and we have to do all the chores by ourselves. This might be okay for many of you western readers. But for many of us who are accustomed to a "certain" way of life, we find this very hard to deal with.
So our solution?
Lock your house and go on a holiday trip! Favourite local destinations in Indonesia include places like Bali and the hillstation nearby Jakarta called Puncak (which I have just came back from today as I am writing this down) These are two of the biggest vacation spots in Indonesia that are visited by local tourist during the Ramadhan season, and it is PACKED!
If you have no patience I really do not recommend you to visit these places during Ramadhan as the prices are high during peak season and you are bound to run into nightmarish traffics. But then again for a lot of us this is the only time we can actually go to these places.
Another option, albeit a rather unpopular one, is find a part time maid which can cater to your needs during the Ramadhan season, of course they will charge you extra, since it is the holiday season.
As I am writing this the Ramadhan holidays are coming to a close and tomorrow I will go back to work. Jakarta will begin its normal routine by next week.
There is a story of an Indian saint who was cooking naan bread and although he was not great in making the naan in a perfect shape, after cooking every bread he would say "perfect" one of his student said "how can that be perfect? it is not even in the proper shape." but the master just kept smiling and said perfect.
Such is life and, in this case, the holidays. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, the traffic, the commotion that you have to go through to enjoy that popular tourist destination. By the end of the day you will realize that it was just perfect. You may not have noticed it then. You were probably complaining. But amidst the traffic that you were stuck in for hours, you had a great time with your family in your car. Everything, from the absence of the helper, the traffic, the food, the patience needed to get said food. I will look back at it with a smile and say to myself "Just Perfect".