Here’s some random news items I (JM) saw while looking at the Jakarta Post today:
1. There was an earthquake in Bandung, about three hours from here. I don’t know if this will even get reported in the States, but not to worry, we didn’t feel anything again and it wasn’t that big.
2. There was hail in East Jakarta yesterday for the first time. Ever. There are lots of thunderstorms here but I guess it never hails.
3. Water rates are going up for people living in Jakarta. Now this is no big deal… except that they only announced it 10 days after the hike went into effect. I guess this company has lots of debts to pay off, so they’re going to raise rates every 6 months for the next 5 years or something. Oh, and the rich people rate went up 7% while the poor people rate rose 10%. Seems kind of backwards to me.
4. There’s an area of town that going to be converted into a "Betawi village". The Betawi people are the native people of this area of Java, and this goes along with the original Dutch name for this area, Batavia. Their numbers are decreasing, so this area will be set aside as a cultural heritage spot and will require that all the buildings use Betawi architecture. Only problem– there’s already 3000 people living there who are frankly quite happy with their non-Betawi houses and businesses as they are.
5. The President of Indonesia makes about $5500 a month. Salary of the Chairman of the gas and oil regulatory agency: $13,000 a month.
6. People are complaining that TV ads are terrible here. Lots of companies decide to make one ad and then play it three times in a row instead of paying to create new ones. We’ve noticed this frequently, especially on MTV, and especially by one of the cigarette companies. I guess some people like to watch ads and are not happy with the quality. We’ve noticed that some ads are kind of weird. I think our favorite is the shampoo commercial which features cartoon-drawn, living, breathing "mother" and "child" strands of hair. They are having breakfast in someone’s head (they actually zoom in from a shot of a lady’s head-we didn’t make it up) and the mother is extolling the virtues of the shampoo product which will make her kid stronger as he "eats" it. No joke.
Oh, and one more random note. The most expensive pack of cigarettes that you can buy here is about 80 cents, but you can get them for as cheap as 50 cents a pack. I guess that’s one reason why everyone smokes.