Saturday, November 20, 2004

Misc about the Eid Day

(Gmail is cool. But not cool enough -- Can't do link).

Pheew, what a week (or maybe more?). Eid celebration is always a big thing in Indonesia. This year is special to me, after having the Eid Day abroad for six years. Maybe not special enough since I haven't got a chance to visit my hometown.

Nevertheless, it's good to be back in your country, where lovely people celebrate some big day in their own unique way. Among all are the following.

Mudik ("upstream" traveling). Yes, everybody knows that Indonesia has the largest muslim population. But not many foreigners know that in observing the Eid Day, majority of the Indonesian muslims go visit their hometown. And this means massive flow of people (and money!) from (and later, back to) Jakarta, or in general, from urban to rural (then rural to urban a week or so later). The rushest days are usually D-3 (and D+4). The "mudik" activities come with lots of economic implications. Despite the official range of fares announced by the Department of Transportation, you should expect an up to 100 percent increase (you don't want it, you don't see your family). Workers from all levels, maids to managers visit their family at hometowns, bringing gifts or money. Almost 25 million Indonesians go on mudik. You see them on TV, they look happy. Unfortunately, crime rate increases too. So do accidents on the road. The police reported that accident rates triple during the Eid Day celebration.

Maaf-maafan (asking for and giving forgiveness). At the end of the Ramadhan people ask each other for forgiveness. It's sweet to see people greet one another in a very friendly way. I am a little surprised, however. Back then, people sent greeting cards to their friends and families. Now, digital technology has taken over. If you have a handphone (and you really don't need to give the number to everybody -- they will know it!), expect hundreds of short messages in the Eid Day. People send Eid greetings through handphone. I shouldn't have been too surprised, as Indonesia is the most advanced cellular country (trust me, ask Nokia or others). The Jakarta Post reported: "The country's biggest cellular operator, Telkomsel, reported traffic of 87 million short messages on Idul Fitri, which fell on Nov. 14 this year. Idul Fitri eve saw 72.5 million text messages sent, and the day after Idul Fitri, 50 million messages" And that's only for Telkomsel. Indosat has huge number too ... It's funny to see that many of the SMS senders use somebody's message to send to other friends -- just change the name (yes, suddenly everybody becomes poet!). So I made this experiment: I created a very nice, unique message. Sent it to some people. Within a day, I got an SMS from a friend with a nice message in it. My message :-) God, I love Eid Day.

There are some unpleasant news though. A traffic accident following a sudden stop in a highway cost 6 lifes. The traffic was halted by the police (for a "VVIP procedure") as the President and his convoy would pass by. The sad thing is, the President Spokesperson immediately blamed the accident on a bus driver! Arrogance, no?

Another thing that has made news is this whole thing about gift parcel and corruption. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has declared that gift-parcel-giving should be banned because it's a form of ... corruption! You can see the motivation, but can you see the logic? I have been applauding KPK's anticorruption mission so far. But this banning the gift parcel business is surely off the target. Rather than discouraging corruption, it puts end to small businesses -- those who produce the parcel baskets and the likes. Yet, the big corruptors keep feeding the state officials through ... internet banking. It's funny to hear that the governor of Jakarta has this notice on his front door "We do not receive gift parcels". OK, how about a transfer to your account, Sir? In fact, I think gift parcel is a nice thing if given from superiors to subordinates in the same office. The other way around? Now, that can lead to corruption.

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