As the holy month looms an Australian journalist plans his escape from the restrictions and impositions of Ramadhan and its aftermath.
In “WHY I’LL QUIT INDONESIA DURING RAMADAN” long time writer for the Jakarta Post newspaper Duncan Graham tells of his plans to make a temporary exit from his second home during the Muslim fasting month.
While stressing that foreigners need to adjust themselves to the customs they find in Indonesia, just as, he says, Muslim immigrants to secular countries should do the same and not:
slaughter goats in the backyard, take on extra wives or circumcise their daughters.
Duncan says he finds aspects of life during the holy month too much to bear, like:
Empty Shop Shelves
Duncan’s favourite liquor – Anker stout – vanishes from the shop shelves not just during Ramadan, but
the [Malang, East Java] town council ordered all shops to remove grog during the month before the holy month lest the sight of a shelf of grog inflame devout shoppers.
thus cruelly thwarting his plans to stock up.
Products of the swine as well seem to disappear from the shops, and bulk buying of bacon beforehand is ill advised as:
my sister-in-law used to be employed re-dating expired goods, like dairy products.
Provided you live far enough away from the nearest place of contemplation the cacophony from mosque loudspeakers has likely become part of the background noise of life, however Duncan says during Ramadan a fresh and mobile auditory assault is made when:
loud-speaker vans cruise the suburbs telling people to pray and breakfast at 3.30 am.
Fireworks during the fasting month are another annoyance he says
as unannounced bangs like gunshots at all hours is too much for anyone conscious that frustrated fundamentalists are still cruising the nation’s streets.
People become grumpy during Ramadan, he says, due to the heat, hunger and thirst (entirely understandably he points out); office and shop staff become lazy.
Due to the general grumpiness as above road users become more prone to road rage, and, at the end of Ramadan when folks mudik to their villages the roads become horribly congested, while many drivers/motorcyclists are weary and overloaded, so it’s too dangerous to venture out.
When considering where to flee from these annoyances and dangers some thought was given to a Christian area like North Sulawesi – where Duncan’s lovely wife and author of a guide for Indonesian women on snaring a western man (How to Catch Mr Bule) hails from – but that is no good either, as the churches there have begun imitating the mosques he says, loudly blaring reminders of the obligations that Sundays bring for Christians.
farewell to the Republic for a while.
Duncan is overseas bound, to Australia or New Zealand presumably, and Islam will have to do without him for a month at least, he ends, saying
we’re heading south to where the laws on noise pollution are policed and minorities’ views given some consideration, however scant.
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