I got sucked into watching The Wire last night. Be careful with that show, it will take over your life. After spending way too many consecutive hours on the couch, I realized that it was dinner time. Sate (bbq chicken skewers with peanut sauce) seemed pretty appealing to my lazy state and the sate man rolls by my door pretty much every night. After watching yet another episode of The Wire, I conceded that the sate guy was not coming. I could no longer avoid the grumble in my tummy, so I hopped on my bike and drove to the closest non-mobile sate spot. The best part about the sate cart coming to your house is that you don't have to sit and wait for it to finish being cooked. You can just go sit back on your couch and wait for the guy to yell that he has finished barbecuing your dinner in front of your house (love this country!).
So there I was patiently waiting on a plastic stool for my meat sticks. I lit a cigarette and had nothing better to do than look around. My boredom soon turned to amazement. This spot was complete sensory overload. I didn't care how long it was going to take to cook my meats, there was too much to see. In no particular order, here are some of my stool observations.
1) No less than 3 lady boys (transvestites, men who dress like women or whatever you call them) came into the sate tent. You can easily spot lady boys as they wear very revealing clothes. No self respecting Indonesian woman would ever dress that way in public. As usual, they were done up and wearing their shortest skirts. Each one had a speaker fixed on their chest (maybe to hide the absence of cleavage) playing very loud Indonesian dance music. They approached the tables one by one and had the very conservative looking family sitting there give them money. What a great concept. Somebody pays you money to go away.
2) At some point, I lost count of the number of motorbikes I saw with 4 or more people on them. The norm was dad driving with a kid in front of him resting his head on the handlebars. Mom is on the very back with her legs dangling and the younger child sandwiched between mom and dad. It also seems that the more people on a bike, the less likely they are to be wearing helmets. The main reason for wearing helmets in this country is to avoid trouble with the police, not to protect your skull from fracturing. As if that could happen driving a motorbike on the streets of Jakarta.
3) At different times, 5 people walked out of a warung next to the sate shop with a piece of watermelon in a plastic bag (this is dessert). As soon as they got outside, they pulled the plastic bag off and threw it on the ground. This upset me a little until I noticed that there were dozens of plastic bags and lots of other random garbage right in front of me. The logic is that the street is already dirty so what difference is more garbage going to make. A much better alternative is to throw all of those unnecessary plastic bags into the garbage and burn them.
4) A very important looking man came to the sate stand and made an order to be delivered. When ordering, he grabbed the man running the stand by the arm in a domineering kind of way and whispered instructions into his ear. The sate guy looked kind of nervous and agreed to whatever it was that the man said. At this point, paranoia set in and I thought they were on to me for sure. A few seconds later, I realized that I hadn't done anything and that watching The Wire was making me paranoid. I wonder if that man actually paid for his sate in the end.
5) I saw 7 or so people crossing the road to the busway entrance. None of them looked before crossing the street. I guess that they were absent the day they taught that in school. There is hope for the future generation though. I saw a mother (bag of sate in hand) making her young daughter look both ways a couple of times before crossing the street.
Finally, my sate was finished and I set off on my way home. Upon arriving, I decided that I had had enough excitement for one day and was going to lay off The Wire for the rest of the night. One hour after finishing the sate (which was excellent) I watched 3 episodes of The Wire and went to bed way too late.