Monday, 21 February 2011

A Cycle Rickshaw Called Becak

In island Java you will spot a cradle type three wheel mode of transportation called Becak (pronounced as bechaa).This is similar to Indian rickshaw in usage but little different in outlook, and much different in travel experience. I have seen three types of rickshaws in India – Tri Cycle Paddle Rickshaw, Kolkata Rickshaw (man pulled, now not common! I saw in the city of Kolkata only) and Auto Rickshaw (motorised –rickshaw, improved version of Bajaj in Indonesia). The paddle Becak is a three wheeled tricycle cart, the driver is behind the passenger, the front is box type and slightly elevated. Now, there are motorised fuel run Becaks too, I saw many in Madiun and Yogyakarta.
The Becak paddlers are mostly from villages (Kampung Desa), they come to city in search of job. They find this job easy and more rewarding, than working say in a hotel or as a hawker. They are paid reasonably well also - for covering a distance of about 1.5-2 kilometer one is expected to pay at least Rp.10,000 (equivalent to Rs 50). Many Indonesian pay a little extra also, like Rp. 2,000, thinking this may help him in uplifting his economic condition. Indonesians respect each other, they are helpful by nature.
I first saw becak in Semarang city…..very enticing in appearance. Same day,I tasted a drive, well at 23:00 hours - travel was serene, fun and quite an experience. I felt as if I am in a cradle and very much on my own….just me and the long way. The paddler was very calm, very much into his job …detached from the passenger. Different from Indian Rickshaw paddlers /drivers, whatever... I love travelling by them. Indian rickshaw paddlers are very much attentive to listen your conversation with the fellow passenger, or what you are saying over phone. Some even dare to know your story. 
Well, India is IncredibleThanks so much for reading, Selamat Malam!

PostScript : To know about we Indians in short,please follow the link:

Sunday, 20 February 2011

When You Are In Yogyakarta (Jogja)

Kedai Di Jamoer,Spesial Masakan Jamur No 2 Di Indonesia
In this piece I will be writing about maximisation of benefits over ‘expense’ and ‘available time’ during your stay in Yogyakarta. I sentences below I will be covering little details about Jogja, must see places, where to go for shopping, and eating joints to get good vegetarian food. I will also be writing about some delicious (mouth watery… yummy) vegetarian Indonesian evening snacks.
Jogja is in central java island of Indonesia. The place is paradise for travellers - you can explore beaches, ancient temples, gala shopping complexes, inexpensive pasar (local markets), and volcanic mountain (mount Merapi and Merabu). It is said that Yogyakarta was the centre of ancient Mataram dynasty. The kingdom built Borobudur temple, the biggest temple in the world – it is said that the erstwhile temple was 6 km long….hard to imagine.
For shopping, I recommend Mirota Batik Store in Jalan Malioboro. The place is great to buy souvenirs, handmade bags (range is huge ….from laptop bags to ladies handbag), aromatic oils and incense sticks. In the section of aromatic oils, you can easily locate imported Bharat Darshan Agarbatties (incense sticks). I had been to the place twice ,every time I bought quite a lot of things and never paid more than Rp.400,000 (equivalent to Rs 2,000). It’s a fixed price store, so no bargaining. It is at Jl. Ahmad Yani No. 9 of Malioboro Street.
Pasar Beringgharjo is the place to buy batik – this is a tradtional market, there you can find a lot of things,like batik cloths,wooden batik toys, inexpensive but lovely shoes and traditional medicines. Hey do not get excited… you first need to know the language (at least primary level) to bargain. If you are able to do so ….thanks heaven..surely you may get authentic batik at a much lesser price. If you are not conversant in Bahasa Indonesia find a company….well, if you do not have one, better buy batik from Mirota Batik Store. I liked the designs there but did not like the fitting. Yeah, if you can afford to go a little higher then definitely you can get better stuff. 
Nasi Oseng 2 Jamoer with Sup Jamoer Tiram
Dining Out
Indonesia is a food paradise for non vegetarians. Maaf , Indonesia is not for vegetarians, we do not have much choice here. If you are in a restaurant, please do not place order before checking with the staff (I assume, you are an outsider like me, and can not comprehend the meaning of words written in the menu card) – most know about vegetarian concept ( food made of grains,legumes,beans and vegetables...excluding meat,fish and egg), they will tell you about ingredients used and what exactly to choose in the menu. Let me assure, you will not have many options to choose. I liked to eat at Kedai Jamoer, it is near Komplax Colombo. The vegetarian food was inexpensive (Rp.15,000 with orange juice), very tasty, and healthy as was slowly cooked. I used to eat rice with freshly sautéed mushroom and a bowl of mushroom vegetable herb soup. Depot Vegetarian Lusidus, Pertokoan Babarsari No.21 and Kedai Jamur,Samping Jogja Expo Center is worth trying. A friend of mine recommended Loving Hut Vegan in Tamansari Food Court. For evening snacks I recommend Singong, Tape, Combro and fried Pisang (bananas). Nyong Mendoan is a lovely place to eat all of them, you may also to try their Tahu Aci and Misro Singkong. Please give a look to the photos below… all are from eating joint Nyong, address is Jl.Mosez G.K.,Demangan Baru near university Senatana Dharma. 
Nyong Mendoan: Indonesian Hospitality
 I will write about rest later.Thank you for reading!
Made from Cassava ,I liked the taste 

Friday, 18 February 2011

And I stayed in Jogja Homestay Heru.....And Loved it!

Kolam Ikan kecil (Small Fish Pond) : You will see many in Homestay Heru
Selamat Pagi! During my recent trip to Yogyakarta (Jogja) I stayed in Homestay Heru, and loved the experience. I liked the place, caring but professional owners, two course meal (meal with fruit), and facilities…… all. The house is choice fully made, if you wish to sit in a silent corner (not in your room actually) to enjoy your cup of Javanese coffee, you have options in plenty – go to the three terrace areas, or sit in the courtyard, even at the rooftop….amazing. If you wish to know about Javanese culture ,cuisine,places to go for shopping and what not ....Ibu and Bapak (owners) are the best person. Ibu is very informed ,she knows a lot about France too.  

Let me tell you a little more about home stays. When you are travelling on your own (or wish to save some money) Family run Home stay is a good, safe and economical option. There are plenty of home stays in Yogyakarta (Jogja).  The tariff per night starts at Rp. 90,000.( almost equivalent to Rs. 450 in india).In Rp.125,000 you can get a decent room with decent (European or Indonesian) breakfast. Some of the homestays come with a package of breakfast plus dinner as well. Jogja Homestay Heru is one those – They serve European or Indonesian breakfast and traditional Javanese food in dinner. There offer any time tea coffee facility,assorted fruits during meals,further, they will take care of your laundry as well. Tariff is Rp. 1.050.000/week (equivalent to Rs.5,250) for an air conditioned, wi-fi connected single room. For more details and booking please follow this link, Ya you can also plan your home stay with

Upstairs : One of the common areas
Thank you for reading.
Postscript: Selamat Pagi used to say good morning in Bahasa Indonesia. 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Shahrukh Khan: "Everybody Loves You Here"

a - Shahrukh and Kajol to promote the textile store
(Hoarding in Jogjakarta,Indonesia)
Upen and Yana Gupta to Welcome Customers
(Hoarding at Prima Store, Jogjakarta,Indonesia)
With about 70 blockbuster movies in his name, crazy fan following in millions, with opportunities to shine wherever he is (opening bell at NASDAQ,open protest of people when he was detained at the US airport), Shahrukh Khan undoubtedly is the biggest film star of Hindi Cinema. Shakhrukh has a fan following in all parts of the world, and Indonesia is no different. 
If you are an Indian, trying to get some answers from an Indonesian (in general), he is going to ask you two questions - Are you an Indian (Asli India?) and since how long you are in Indonesia (Sudah lama di Indonesia); then he will tell you (in Bahasa Indonesia) about Shahrukh Khan and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai". In some cases they may mention Kajol as well. Some people even asked whereabouts of Amitabh Bachchan,Anil kapoor and Hrithik Roshan. 

Here, western movie stars are recognized and appreciated, but Shahrukh Khan is loved. Women love his smile and etiquette, men like his mannerism and straightforwardness. Shahrukh Khan is loved even in far flung places (Kampung Desa), teenagers imitate his smile and hair style (I guess from the movie Om Shanti Om). His movies are dubbed in national language and sold in every small to medium DVD shop in Java and other parts of country. Shahrukh has been able to break barriers set by people around countries, religion, language etc…he is proving this directly and indirectly. People love to talk to me because I am from India, the country of Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh once said in an interview that he want lots of money,lots of fame and lots and lots of love from people…..he has achieved it all, may this only increase with time, Amen! Thank you for reading , Selamat Malam!
In my whole life I worked to get recognized – Shahrukh Khan

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

And I Tried Learning Batik....

Batik is the traditional fabric of Indonesia. It is said that Batik or writing using wax is originated in India. In West Bengal, one can easily locate people wearing Batik Kurta. In my teen age, I had a likeness for Bengal Batik skirts and Kurtas. I was under the impression that Batik is very Indian and is very limited in outreach too. Then in year 2010, in my trip to Indonesia, I came across something fabulous,smooth and traditional.....PheW that was Batik. It actually took a day to accept this Batik...when this follows almost the same process ( advanced here in Indonesia) and one can also find traditional Batik Kurta (better in design) in Mirota Batik Store at Yogjakarta. This was overwhelming..with so many types, patterns , fabrics,associated history and culture. 

Batik is Indonesia’s one of the highly acclaimed, highly developed and widely used art form. Yesterday, I tried learning Batik from Mbak Ayu. She gave me a white cotton cloth as it can easily absorb the wax and easy to colour. She told me to use a tiny iron metal closed spoon attached with a thin pipe, through which the wax seeps. Then she handed over a small container full of hot,consistent,watery wax, and instructed to draw some designs on white cloth. Drawing designs and me…Yuk! By the way Great Google says word batik is thought to be derived from the word 'ambatik' which translated means 'a cloth with little dots'.

Without giving much thought I started drawing some patterns – I started with  (OM .I do not know why).  Om is a sacred syllable in Hindu, Buddha,Sikh and Jain religion. Bali,in Indonesia, also has a similer symbol called as Akara. Then I drew योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् meaning excellence in action is yoga. 
I like a few more Sanskrit phrases as well, such as 
सा विद्या या विमुक्तये   - That is knowledge which liberates
आत्मनो मोक्षार्थं जगधिताय - For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world

My eternal favourite is तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय - Lead us from Darkness to Light….but this was tough to write on a cloth using a spoon and watery hot wax. Then I wrote a few more words and drew some patterns/symbol. So the photo above is my creation….i did initial two steps yesterday, will work on some dyeing process today.

Thanks so much for reading!

Gunungan : Some Similarities With Ancient Indian Philosophy

Yesterday,I was not able to upload a photograph, here is it. When i first looked at the this in the form of a photograph, it appeared very known to me.  The person i was talking to, became impressed when i told that the picture is about churning of the ocean of milk (Samudra Manthan in Hindi). 
Let me tell you a little more about Gunungan. When i inquired and explored about it, i found this is one of the important character in Wayang Theatre. The forest representation pattern is originated in India. Here the root of the tree symbolizes origin of life from water and its tip indicates salvation and immortality. The shape of the painting (like a mountain) symbolizes Mount Mandara (or Meru), and the four steps are to indicate stages of life - Brahmacharya,Grihastha,Vanprastha and Sanyas. This also talks about Dharma (responsibilies to one and all others),Artha (economic development of self, family and society),Kama (fulfillment of duties) and Moksha ( detachment from material thing for liberation). Here the initial step indicates birth and the last is way to ultimate peace and enlightenment. The picture of Tiger and a Bull facing each other may be is to symbolise constant struggle within self  - good versus bad , truth versus maya (delusion of the mind).... may be positives versus negatives too. Another interpretation could be this way also - to realise self (atman) the pride and ego should fight each other and die. This is getting interesting for me , Yo ! May be some other time i will write more about it.

Thank you for reading. Selamat Malam!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


I came to Indonesia in the year 2010, in the month of June. I stayed for almost three weeks and went back to my beloved country India. I came back again in the last week of September and stayed for almost 2 month. This time again i am back to (now) my second home Indonesia. 

My first visit to Indonesia was good, and i achieved what i intended to, in my assignment. I tried my level best to see places, but did not have many opportunities to do so. I had a bit of Jakarta,Semarang,Salatiga,Solo and Yogjakarta ,all in Java. In the second visit i mostly stayed in Jakarta as not much travelling was needed. By the second visit i started liking the place and people. I decided to have more of it and initaited learning the language with the help of my exceptionally talented Indonesian colleague. I also started to roam around and interacting with people. It was and it still is a great learning experience. Now i am travelling a lot to see,absorb and experience Indonesia. I wish to share my learnings with people who are in some way or another associated (or like to get associated ) with Indonesia. I will be sharing mostly about: 
  1. My experiences and experiments with food (i am a vegetarian)
  2. Travelling to new places 
  3. A few important lessons in Bahasa Indonesia
  4. Learnings of the day (only if i learnt)
  5. Love and sentiments for of Indonesian people for Shahrukh Khan and other actors from Indian Hindi Film Industry 
  6. and off course lot of Interesting photos.  
To initiate with, i am sharing with you all the photograph of Gunungan or Kekayon. This is a traditional representation of universe in Javanese way. This also symbolises the beginning of every play.Well, i am not able to attach the photograph ....internet is very slow.....will tell about it tomorrow.  

Thank you for reading.Selamat Malam!

Postscript : Selamat Malam means Good Night in Bahasa Indonesia.