Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Groundhog Day

Every day, at the exact same time, the exact same event occurs outside my house. It is what I wake up to on a daily basis. At precisely 5 A.M., a mobile bread vendor drives by outside my house. For some reason, the dog that lives across the street takes exception to this and starts barking insanely. Unlike all of the other dogs in my area, this dog's bark is a high shrill that sounds as if he/she is being stabbed repeatedly. The same dog does not bark at the odd car, motorbike or other street vendor going by before or after. This has been baffling me for some time to the point that I'm almost obsessed with it.

The passing bread vendor is known as Sari Roti. As I've mentioned before, each vendor has their own unique noise or song. Sari Roti has a song that goes something like...
This little tune repeats itself endlessly throughout the day. There are numerous other vendors going by around the same time but their melodies don't seem to bother the dog in question.

What's even more astounding than the dog's reaction is that the Sari Roti vendor passes my house at EXACTLY 5 A.M. every morning, not a minute sooner or later. Jakarta is not what you would call a punctual place, you are hard pressed to find 2 clocks in the same building that are synchronized. Generally, most scheduled times are an -ish time, never precise.

Some mornings, I am tempted to get up to see if it is actually the same Sari Roti vendor driving by at 5 A.M every day but I am too lazy. From that time until the late morning, there are dozens of other Sari Roti vendors that drive by but the dog doesn't bark at them, only at the 1st one. By listening, I have deduced that the bread vendor is not stopping at or near the house the dog lives at. This would explain why the dog barks. It has gotten to the point where I sometimes inadvertently wake up at 4:58 A.M in anticipation of the event to come. A few minutes after 5, I realize that I have another hour or so to sleep and am grateful for that.

My first memory of each and every day has been the EXACT same for weeks now; the Sari Roti song followed by the adjacent dog's painful howl. I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day where he wakes up to the exact same song and speech on the radio every morning.

If for some unexplained reason, this event does not occur one morning, I am going to take it as an omen that I should stay in bed because the world has tilted off it's axis. How can precision clockwork occur right outside my door in a city that nobody would ever in their wildest dreams dare to describe as precise?

Does anybody actually buy bread at 5 A.M anyways?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Does Java Land Really Rock?

Last night, I went to the first night of the 3 day long Java Rockin Land music festival. I was super excited, especially since the headliners were none other than The Smashing Pumpkins. It is a rare treat in Jakarta to get to see a band of that caliber and there was no way I was going to miss out.

The festival was at a place called Ancol which is on the waterfront of the Java Sea. It is not as pretty as you may think but nonetheless made for a great music venue. The ground was super muddy and luckily the skies were clear after a downpour earlier that afternoon. I felt great anticipation once I got there after having to endure a very long taxi ride and an even longer walk to the venue.

The next thing I knew, my friend and I were in the front row and Billy Corgan was serenading us with nostalgic tunes from my forgotten adolescence that still managed to rock after all these years.
We were ecstatic and couldn't stop jumping and singing along.

A few songs into the set, I started to look around. Everyone else was just standing there with relatively blank stares. Quite a few people were trying to take photos with their phones. The only people "rockin out" were my friend and I and a couple of other white guys. I started to notice that I was somewhat annoying people in my vicinity as I was bouncing around. They were giving me looks that said "stand still and be quiet, don't you know how to behave at a rock concert?". I was admittedly a little buzzed having visited the Carlsberg refreshment tent before the set began but I could not for the life of me understand why these people were just standing there looking forlorn. Double cross the vacant and the bored. They're not sure just what we have in store. They were obviously Smashing Pumpkins fans but were acting like they were at a piano recital. As the show went on it became more obvious to me that the people around us thought that we were insane maniacs. The truth is that we were just in the moment and really enjoying ourselves.

Then, the guitar gave a little teaser of bullet with butterfly wings. I was ecstatic and must've jumped 3 feet in the air. Then, as quickly as he started, Billy stopped playing and said "Are you alive out there, Jakarta?" There was a polite applause. We were jumping and screaming as to say "Billy Billy Billy, look at us!" They then proceeded to play bullet with butterfly wings (for those of you who don't know: a really heavy guitar song that makes you want to go nuts) and we proceeded to go nuts like rats in a cage. We started jumping and singing along even more than we were before. Once again, people were eyeballing us as if we were a disgrace.

I'm used to going to concerts where the whole crowd would be acting like we were. In my mind, we weren't acting out of the ordinary. The only explanation I can offer for the deplorable behavior of the crowd is the general lack of outward emotion that Asian people express. I know this is somewhat of a stereotype but I can't for the life of me think why else people were quietly standing there while the band was putting on such a great performance.

The show ended and it appeared that there would not be an encore. As soon as the band left the stage, everyone around me started to walk away. Not me, I was clapping and shouting Bill-ly Bill-ly. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. The lights came on as a sad sign that there would be no encore tonight ladies and gentlemen. The crowd didn't earn one I guess. I was really really hoping they were going to come back out and play 1979 but it wasn't meant to be.

Today is the greatest day I've ever known. Well maybe not but I do have that warm feeling in my bones from rockin out last night. It's been too long and I hope the next time comes sooner. The lack of accessibility to top notch live music is probably the thing I miss most living here. That's just how it goes.

Did The Smashing Pumpkins Rock?
Did I rock out as hard as I could?
Does Java Island Rock?