Monday, March 22, 2010


Jalan Pasar is the street we live on--Market Street--aptly named given that this particular neighborhood grows like an antler from the source, the community market, wherein the local people ply their goods, from produce to livestock, from fruits to chickens, from bottled sodas to dried bananas, rice cakes, candies, peanuts, onions, melons large and small, spilled out in abundance from booth to booth and crowding the path that winds through the square.

Yesterday we bought and carried our lunch home--three plates of chicken, rice, corn cakes, and tempe, costing us a grand total of 4 dollars US.

This is the day market, but at night you will find the place altogether transformed. The booths containing raw victuals have now been replaced by tables of prepared food, and surrounding these, stemming outward like spokes, are racks of clothing, table tops full of sandals, purses, panties and bras, paintings, plastic toys, decks of cards, CDs and DVDs, women’s shoes, boots, mittens (for motorbike riding, mind you), plates and bowls and pottery work. Featured also in the night market are two or three television sets with the sound turned up as high as it will go (though I cannot tell you why).

As can be imagined, the morning market differs from the night market in as far as morning brings necessity while night brings relaxation and entertainment. In the morning people buy, at night they look. In the morning they haggle, at night they chat. It is business in the morning, society at night.

It is not good for the bule, the white man, to go alone to the pasar, for it is well known to every local person that every bule has banyak uang (lots of money), more than he knows what to do with, and is just bound to be a sucker, ready to pay 10 to 15 times the usual price. It does not matter to him, for money grows in his wallet like weeds in a garden, and no matter how much he pulls out, more of the green stuff pops up in its place, an endless bounty. Money means nothing to the bule, for he comes from the gold paved streets of America and Europe, where the deer and the antelope play, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

There is not a person here, as far as I’ve been able to discover, who does not want to go to America. Little do they know how very far the dream exceeds the reality.

Ah, but we all want to escape, and to find the greener grass, the pot of gold, somewhere over the rainbow.

1 comment:

imascatterbrain said...

Sounds like your understanding of their dream might be a step removed from reality, like your understanding of "their reality?"

For instance, I am "disabled," and haven't really worked since '07, but writing on a computer that my friends would consider outdated, and not at all extravagant. My savings was just from bartending, and it is nearly gone, but still, it would seem like an endless supply to have lasted two years until I got the disability. Which, knock wood, is endless.

My "disabled" life is a little dreamy if you look at it from a third world perspective, and I hope this will remind me to be thankful.