Sunday, 1 March 2009

Surabaya Living

The monsoon rains come down in torrents, but Surabayans go about their daily business as usual. Blessings from the skies are not taken for granted and their philosophy reflects a healthy approach to life. They say "we don't have floods, but the water does rise".

Street life is much the same in most of Indonesia. Families of 3 or 4 on a motorbike are a common sight amidst the hustle and bustle of the pasar or market.

Ibu (lady) goes to market in a bechak ......

....while this ibu takes a nap when trading is slow.

Mobile food stalls sell local favourites like bakso, a beef ball noodle soup.

Oven-grilled lamb is the house speciality of this zinc-walled shop-house. Despite the impoverishment the potted plants give a nice finishing touch and an indication of being house-proud.

Bird keeping, as it is termed, is part and parcel of the Indonesian lifestyle. One in five urban households keep birds, which according to a survey "reminds urban migrants of their village life". Doves and canaries are the most popular while the orange-headed thrush is the coveted prize. This hobby, while having stress-relieving effects, has its downside in that conservationists fear the decline in wild bird species and extinction in some. With the advent of song-bird contests every weekend, bird-trapping has become a lucrative sport. Birds are trained to sing for 20-40 minutes. A winning bird can garner millions of rupiah for its owner which increases its value and becomes a highly sought after commodity.

Go to for more insight to this unique hobby.
The Indonesians are an industrious and enterprising people in their homeland and abroad. In KL, the Chow Kit area could be called 'Little Indonesia', as 90% of the trade is conducted by the Indonesian community, many of whom have become permanent residents.

On the other side of the coin, luxury abounds in the western district of Surabaya where the nouveau riche stake their claim around swanky golf courses in gated -community residential estates.
The penchant for roman columns is glaringly obvious, as every other mansion apes this decadent style.
While wealth is flaunted, the high-walled enclosures reveal a deep-seated fear for safety. To the unaccustomed eye the question is "why bother to build a mansion if you are going to wall yourself in?" Well, I think the answer is, "because we can!"

Meanwhile the general populace enjoy the beauty of nature quietly and live life as it should be. Dawn sees the good practice of early morning exercise at the neighbourhood school grounds. In these trying times of financial instability, the current Mayor has enabled the use of public areas for income-generating purposes for the rakyat (citizens). The Kali Mas riverside has been beautified to accommodate food stalls to achieve this goal.

A surprising change for the better is the creation of smoke free zones. The Surabaya Plaza Suites, offers this haven. Much to the indignation of the smoking members of our group, all guests are required to sign an agreement and undertaking to keep the premises smoke-free or pay a fine of one million rupiah (USD80). Has Surabaya become greener? Yes it has, thanks to a community project involving Tree-Planting to commemorate auspicious events for example:- marriage - 5 trees, birth of child - 2 trees and for divorce 10 trees! Kudos to the Mayor for getting his priorities right. You're the Man!

1 comment:

boy from dungun said...

How interesting!
Is this true, that the mayor imposed tree planting for marriage, divorce, etc.?
What about 2nd wife? 15 trees?
And those with girlfriend or mistress, like our good friend? 20 trees?