Wednesday, August 17 was Indonesia's 66th Independence Day.
They declared independence from the Japanese at the end of WWII but the Dutch held on for a while longer. The U.N. finally intervened and Indonesia became an independent state.
All over Jakarta there are banners, bunting and flags along with signs that say "Dirgahayu RI" which means "Long Live the Republic of Indonesia".
The flag is simple but pretty, and we have one that we bought from a roadside vendor- but when we went to hang it from our front gate (since we don't have a pole for it), our guard patiently explained to us that the flag was meant to be hung horizontally.
Ah, cultural diversity. He had no way of knowing or caring if we had flags where we come from, and if there was a correct way to fly it if we did. All he knew is that we were stupid.
Even though we had seen many official buildings with the flag displayed hanging vertically, we opted not to try to explain the esoterica with our limited language skills (we can converse with the people we meet every day, but "discussions" are still out of the question), so we just smiled and thanked him.
On our way up the driveway he stopped us to say, in English,
"It okay. You no hap to do... because you American."
He was worried that we felt obligated to display our respect. Sigh. We really wish we could convey more than first grade ideas. Maybe some day.
Anyway, we thought it would be a good day to go to the National Monument, so we did, and here are the pictures we took. The park area all around the monument was loaded with families enjoying the holiday, but the Monument itself was closed.
Because it was a holiday.
Oh, the irony.
For your trivia pleasure, Ted says the flame is layered with 50 kilos of gold leaf. I'll save you the dollar calculations and just tell you it's the equivalent of "Holy Cow".
Kind of a flowery way of saying "Independence Park" and giving credit to the politicians who okayed it. Your vocabulary word for the day is 'khusus' (koo-soos) and it means 'special'. You can have khusus parking or khusus children or khusus reasons. In this case, they have a politician for special projects.
There was not a lot going on, generally speaking. Plenty of people enjoying the day all over- not just on the grounds of the monument.
Strangely, for a firecracker happy country, there was not a single one set off all day or night this year, at least in our neighborhood.
It may have to do with Ramadhan (in effect for a few more days) or it may be that only Americans need to blow stuff up for Independence Day.
Idul Fitre is set to begin next week though, and a month of abstinence will give way to a week of abandon. Like Catholic school girls at 3pm.
Next time we'll explore the whole Holy Month thing here...