January 23, 2009

Time for Bribe the Kitchen God

Celebrating Chinese New Year without kue keranjang (Basket Cake/Chinese sticky cake) is not completed. Kue keranjang is not only a cake but more as a tribute to Dewa Dapur (Kitchen God) who goes down from heaven at the Chinese New Year day. For many Chinese ethnics, name of kue keranjang is very familiar. It is called kue keranjang (basket cake) because it was made in bamboo basket in process.

According to Chinese beliefs, in Chinese New Year, Gods go down to earth to evaluate people’s life in the last year. They will record anything, either it is good or bad, and then reported it to heaven as an annual reports. That’s why Chinese people use these sweet cakes to “bribe” Gods in order to make them bring good reports to heaven. In progress, this cake was become a tools in social intercourse by sending basket cake to each other in Chinese New Year.

In tradition basket cake has round shape, but basket cake this days is more sophisticated and innovated. Basket cake maker now has developed their products. If you take a walk in Glodok, china town of Jakarta, you can find basket cake in many shape like gold fish shape for example. Chinese beliefs gold fish bring luck and fortune.

Although it was only busy towards Chinese New Year, basket cake business is never die. Siti Lauw a.k.a. Ouw Thio Nio or usually called as Mrs. Lauw began this business since year 1962. Nobody suspected if her basket cake business will be survive and has loyal customers till now.

“I began with only 4 liters of sticky cakes a day at that time, and then it grew to basket cakes until now. The demand is still rising up,” she said.

She admitted that this is a seasonal business, which is having highly demand in Chinese New Year, yet the profit is very high. She developed her products with making various taste of sticky cakes in ordinary day (not Chinese New Year).

“Orders came in 1 month before the Chinese New Year, now these last days are the top of the orders,” she continued.

When she was asked her key of success, she just said: don’t leave your customer! Lauw still makes her products in a traditional way, from pounding the glutinous rice powder, mixing ingredients, until the cooking process that still using firewood and banana leaf packaging. “We cooked the basket cake for 12 hours,” she said.

No wonder, every year she can collects hundreds of million Rupiahs from this business. However she should pay more than 100 daily employees. “My employees are generation to generation workers, in the past I employed the mothers, now their children.”

Just for comparison. In regular days she only makes sticky cakes no more than 30 liters a day for marriage party or else. For basket cakes, she only makes them by order. But in this Chinese New Year she estimated that she will use 20 tons raw powder. Her customers are not only come from Tangerang and Jakarta, but also from other cities like Bandung, Karawang, and Bekasi.

The basket cake price is also competitive. Rp. 17,000/kgs (2 pcs), whereas for sticky cake with coconut milk taste is only Rp. 29,000/kgs, durian taste is Rp. 35,000/kgs, and Rp. 34,000 for sesame taste.

Lauw, who is 84 years old now, has handed over her business to her children, which are the third generation in this family business, from production, marketing, distribution, business expantion, etc. “I am only supervised them,” she said.

Umar Sanjaya, Lauw’s oldest son, admitted that this traditional cake business is prospective enough. However, all this time, they have problems in standardization of quality, and quality development such as how to make the wet cakes ages long enough before it’s getting dry and hard. “For now we can not think about export orientation because this kind of cake has not long ages, although the demand from other countries is always came,” he explains.

He continued that although crisis is happening this year but the demand is rising precisely. Every year the sales are always increasing. He doesn’t know why.

“Maybe because it's a tradition needs, so it's never influenced by crisis,” He said.

For you who want to try this family basket cakes recipe, you can find them in this following address.

JL Lio Baru/Bouraq Gang SPG No 55 RT 01/02 Kampung Sirnagalih, Karangsari, Kecamatan Neglasari, Tangerang, Banten. Phone : 021-5524587 dan 021-71095035.

Source: Detik.com

Many thanks to Hodang for his email about this story.

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January 21, 2009

The Momentum of Indigene Dragons, Recovered Their Social-Politics Back Bone

Written by Daniel Johan, Vice General Secretary of PKB
Translated by Agus Tjandra

We all know what is Batik, Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet), and Wayang Golek (wood puppet/marionette). When Malaysia claimed batik as their national heritage, most of us agitated and mad because our nationalism was disturbed. Why? Because we know that batik is Indonesian authentic culture that was rooted in our life. Batik, wayang kulit, wayang golek, is a few of creativity and art spirits of Indonesia Chinese descendant.

Chinese ethnics in Indonesia had a very long history and influenced a lot to many aspects in our life, from agriculture, language, medical, politic, to art and culture. However, it was a pity that the darkness of discrimination practices and suppression was colored the life of Chinese ethnics in Indonesia. All of it was begin from Dutch politics, devide et empera, who classified Indonesian in 3 class which are Europe, Far East, and Indigene. The funny is that policy was perfectly adopted by New Order regime. Let’s see the Decree No. 62, 1958 about citizenship, the point of that decree betrayed our Proclamation because the decree was using the results of Konferensi Meja Bundar (KMB), Round Table Conference, December 27, 1949 as the basic.

It was an ironic; an independent country was still loyal to the colonizer desirability. The consequence was since 1959 to 2006 citizen of this country still classified, therefore the discrimination practices on Chinese ethnics had very strong root. The top is Inpres (Presidential Directive) No. 14/1967, made by Suharto regime that forbids anything about Chinese.

It needs good will, hard works, and collective struggle to wipe it off because even now we have the new Citizenship Law and Removal of Race and Ethnics Discrimination Law, yet in implementation level we still facing a lot of obstacles. Everybody’s participation is needed to solve this nation issue.

These 12 astrological signs ethnics suffer the bitter and pain of discrimination and marginalization for more than 3 generations; systematically they had been localized in trade and business sector, until they were losing their social-politics back bone. Therefore, since colonial era to independence era, Chinese ethnics was always in “possessor’s cannon range”, so at any time they could be easy to been sacrificed by the ruler in un-advantage time. Without the social-politics back bone, the Chinese ethnic’s astrological signs were reduced from 12 to 5 which are “Experimental Rabbits” for bureaucracy complexity; “Black Goat” in crisis time; “Milk Cow” in peace time; “Riding Horse” in election time; “Cutting Chicken” in critical situation.

In while, Pramudya Ananta Toer, an Indonesian cultural observer, explained that the whole racialist acts and policies in Indonesia are rooted to falsification of forms and contents of socials incidents by certain persons, with the objectives are to wipe Chinese ethnics off Indonesia, has no citizenship in any country, or minimally as a foot polishes.

But now, reformation has made Indonesia smile again. Chinese ethnics now can perform to the public stage, especially since Gusdur, declarator of Nation Awakening Party (PKB) and former Indonesian President, removed the restriction of Chinese ethnics, including removing the Inpres No. 14/1967, so Chinese Ethnics now can express their self, their tradition and culture, including to celebrate Chinese New Year.

This condition has to pointed as a momentum to regenerate Chinese indigene’s social-politics back bone, so they, as a nation’s children, could stand up as an “Indigene Dragons” which are equal with Javanese, Bataknese, Sundanese, and other nation’s children. Let’s hope in this Chinese New Year 2560 moment brings a new hope for real reparation. Chinese ethnics as a legal indigene is also having values that can be contribute to nation progression and prosperity.

The 2009 election is the most important main gate for Chinese indigenes to regenerate their social-politics back bone so the enthusiastic and active involvement to vote their representatives can’t be wasted. Every Chinese indigene have to use their right to vote because the discrimination time is over, so these Indigene Dragons and other nation’s children can give their best contributions for the prosperity of the people and nation.

Source: www.kabarindonesia.com

(Author's note: I post this article to welcome Chinese New Year 2560 next January 25, 2009, as a reflection for all of us.)

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January 17, 2009

Heritage of Half-breeds Chinese Culture Exhibition in Jakarta Cultural Herald

Indonesia is very rich with many ethnics and cultures, including Chinese culture. Chinese people were come to Indonesia since more than 1,000 years ago with various ethnics, languages & dialects, and cultures. They lived and breed in islands of Indonesian Archipelago for hundred of years. But they keep their ancestor culture until today. Although in many aspects the culture was mixed with local culture.

The expression of Chinese people (we called Tionghoa) in various islands and provinces in Indonesia, especially the breeds, is very different and more riches than the expression of Chinese in Malaysia or Singapore. It happened because Indonesia her self have so many various cultures and ethnics, so there were a unique acculturation and rich manifestation on Indonesian culture. The Chinese culture enrich and been enriched Indonesian culture.

Jakarta Cultural Herald (Bentara Budaya Jakarta) in collaboration with Indonesian Cross-Culture Community (Komunitas Lintas Budaya Indonesia) shows this unique half-breeds Chinese culture in Jakarta Cultural Herald building, South Palmerah Street, Jakarta. It was opened by Siswono Yudo Husodo, a nation affairs observer, and Jacob Oetama, chairman of Kompas Daily. The exhibition will be hold until January 25, 2009, on occasion of Chinese New Year 2560.

This exhibition show to us about 300 old house accessories and furniture with half-breeds Chinese nuance which are used in Indonesia in stretches of time between years 1850 – 1960. One of those traditional item is a set of altar made from black wood.

This altar is consist of 2 parts which are Kham and Hio Lo. Kham is a 4 doors cabinet decorated with 5 intellectual symbols, which are book, scroll, painting, kecapi (plicked stringed instrument), and chess board. Kham was used as a place to put a ancestors soul board.

Hio Lo, made from teak wood, is a square container decorated with gold painted dragon & hong bird motif, to store joss stick or incense. For Chinese, Hio Lo believed as a shackle for their pray and God.

Beside the altar, we can see a Chinese traditional wedding dress. The gown enriched by flowers and a pair of hong bird motive. There is also Chinese traditional bed, with the specific mosquito net influenced by Padang half-breed Chinese and Betawi half-breed Cinese style. There are also many hundred of years old Chinese traditional furniture shown in this exhibition.

It is a must-see exhibition for you who like culture and heritage.

Source: Kompas Daily

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Clubbing at Musro (Aliance Theme Party)

Tonight, a club in Jakarta, Musro, will made a Aliance theme clubbing party. Musro is a shortness from Music Room, one of the most famous club in Jakarta, located in Borobudur Hotel, Lapangan Banteng Selatan I Street, Central Jakarta.

The party will begin at 22.00 p.m. until dawn. It will performs DJs: Noxx & Ade Bro (M1/43; Jelly (MIMI Production); Adietya (T4L); Fame & DQ (M1/43); Feat Mc D (M1/43); VJ Flicker Screen; Rakazt (T4L); Resty (M1/43); Ndira (M1/43); Arcanum (T4L); Arie Bule & Hemmy.

Happy clubbing guys. Read More......

January 10, 2009

Fatahillah Museum, The Icon of Old Town

There is a famous museum in Jakarta, located in old town area. Its official name is Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Jakarta History Museum) but it’s more be known as Fatahillah Museum, according to the name of a prince from Cirebon Sultanate who was conquering a harbor town of Sunda Kelapa, and re-named it to Jayakarta on 16th century.

Short History
At 17th century this area was a center of Batavia City (later become Jakarta). It is a capital city of Netherland Indies Government at colonial era, an era of Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), a trading company from Netherland. This 2 floors colonial style building was built on January 1707 by order of Petronella Wilhelmina Van Hoorn, daughter of a Netherland Indies General Governor, Joan Van H
oorn, and finished on 1710. At its time, this building was used as a Stadhuis (City Hall) for Netherland Indies Government to replace the old City Hall which was built on 1620 by General Governor Jan Pieterszoon Coen, founder of Batavia. As a government building at colonial era, there were offices; court chamber; and underground prisons in it.

There are 5 units of underground prison cell in this building to jail thieves, robbers, murderers, rebels, and desertion military officers. Made from concrete wall with iron bars as its door, it’s 8 x 3 meters wide without any proper ventilation beside the door. There are many iron balls used to fettered prisoners ankle in these cells with 100 kgs weight and volley ball size. Every cell commonly filled to 80 prisoners. There is a story told that these prisons were ever filled with 500 (100 each?!?) Chinese people on Chinese rebellion incident on 1740, only served with watery rice and water, while waiting for their execution time one by one on the city hall square. It was told that a Netherland General Governor of Ceylon, Petrus Vuyst, had also jailed in here, not because he was a criminal but because an insane reason. A historian, Dr. F. De Haan, called these prisons as a donker gat (dark hall) that makes anybody feel suddenly frightened only by entering it.

Then, on March 30, 1974, Jakarta Governor, Ali Sadikin, formalized this building as a museum and opened to public. At that time this place was become a focus of a big restoration plan of old Batavia (now Old Town).

Inside The Museum
As a museum, it provides the historical background of Jakarta
. According to the records of The Culture and Museums Department of Jakarta, this museum has 23,500 collections.

In the 1st floor we can find many collections of antiquities and porcelains, VOC symbol statue, archeological discovery from prehistorically era, earthenware vessels, statues, and ancient inscription. There are also many display objects such as traditional Betawi kitchen, cigarette stall, becak (pedicab), meatballs cart, etc., which are symbolize the Betawi culture, culture of Jakarta ethnic who was born and bred for generations in Jakarta for hundred of years.

In the 2
nd floor, there are many of antique furniture used by the Netherland rulers of Batavia. In this floor we can find large windows facing to the lawn. Beside one of these windows there is a written plate told that through these windows, the leaders of Netherland Government gave their orders to execute criminals by hang in the middle of the square.

All these collection are placed in several rooms such as Prehistoric Room, Tarumanagara Room, Fatahillah Room, Jayakarta Room, Sultan Agung Room, and M.H. Thamrin Room.

Outside The Museum
In the front of the building, there is a wide square used as a plaza in colonial era. At the both side of the entry door, there are 2 cannons which stand across the cobblestone square. In the middle of the square, there is antique fountain water. There is also a souvenir shop in this area

In the back yard, we can find the famous “Si Jagur” cannon, a 16th century Portuguese cannon which is believed has a mystical power. Across that sacred cannon, there is the Hermes God statue which used to be placed on Harmoni Bridge. I will write about these famous objects next time.

There was a Justice Goddess statue stand on the top of the tower of this museum, but now it is gone. It was stolen some years ago. It was figured as a goddess with blindfolded eyes, sword in the right hand, and a pair of scales in the left hand, symbolize the absolute justice.

This museum is located on Taman Fatahillah (Fatahillah Park) Street no. 2, West Jakarta. It’s placed on a 13,000 meters square land. There are several museums around it. On the east of this museum there are Puppets Museum and Ceramics Museum which are stand side by side. On the west are Bank Indonesia Museum and Bank Mandiri Museum. But Fatahillah Museum is the most famous museum in this area and become a main tourism object for Old Town Area. It is the icon for Old Town Area.

The square, which as known as Fatahillah Park, is become a place for many events held by Jakarta Government, especially on
special occasions like Jakarta Birthday or Indonesia Independence Day commemoration. Just across the yard, there is a nice café which is called Batavia Café. As a tourism destination, it is natural if there are many trade stands filled that place. Most of them selling garment products like jackets, T-shirts, blue jeans, etc.

Jakarta Government had just renovation this area, especially the public infrastructure like the side walk and the square. You can see there are a lot of stone balls in many size spread around this area.

You can reach Fatahillah Museum by Trans Jakarta Bus and stop at the Kota terminal, or you can use electric train and stop at Jakarta Kota Station, then walk by foot to the museum which is only 100 meters from the station or Trans Jakarta Bus terminal. If you ride your own car, from Monas, just go straight to north through Gajah Mada Street.

Fatahillah Museum is open every day, except Monday and national holiday. It opens from 8.30 AM – 2.30 PM on Tuesday to Thursday; 8.30 AM – 11.30 AM on Friday; 8.30 AM – 1.30 PM on Saturday; and 8.30 AM – 2.30 PM on Sunday. Cover charge is cheap, only Rp 2,000 for adult and Rp 500 for children.

This is the right place for you who want to now about Jakarta history.

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January 6, 2009

Nasi Campur Konghu (Chinese Mix Rice)

Pictures by Trisno Tohar

Have you ever eat nasi campur (chinese mix rice)? There is a little restaurant which is selling this kind of food. It is called Nasi Campur Konghu restaurant. Thank you to my best friend, Trisno Tohar, who sent me an email about this little chinese restaurant.

The owner is Indonesian Chinese descendant. There are many ethnics in Chinese people; one of them is konghu, most of these people was born and grew at Pontianak or Singkawang city, Central Kalimantan (Borneo). One of their famous favorite foods is Nasi Campur (mix rice). Nasi campur is made from ordinary rice with pork and chicken meat all mix together with special sauce on a single plate.

Nasi campur konghu is a little bit different from other nasi campur. Generally, the main dishes in chinese nasi campur is consist of sweet roasted pork; salty roasted pork; chicken egg; roasted or steamed chicken (sometimes duck). But in this nasi campur konghu there are also boiled blood pork (In fact in some konghu restaurant, like at Pangeran Jayakarta Street, they put some addition meat like foot and tongue pork). Which is make this food very special is the chilli peppers sauce. They use terasi (condiment made from pounded and fermented shrimp or small fish) from Kalimantan for the chilli sauce.

You can find this little restaurant at Gunung Sahari Street, North Jakarta, just across the street with Mangga Dua Square Shopping Complex. The price is relatively cheap. You can enjoy this meal for only Rp 20.000 (less than USD 2.00) per portion. There are also other several Chinese food beside nasi campur, such as steamed chicken rice; and bektim (I don’t know how to called bektim in English, but it made from steamed various part of pork with spicy gravy). This restaurant is open from 10AM to 10PM.

So if you a Chinese food fan, you may like this food to try. It is a recommended!
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January 5, 2009

Monas Delman Vanished Slowly

One of Monas's traction is Delman (two wheeled buggy). Delman is one of culture of Betawi people (original citizens of Jakarta). This kind of transportation is exist in Jakarta for hundred of years, but now it is very rare to see it on street. Modern technology 'killed' them slowly. And now, Monas Delman is also vanished one by one.

For many years, Monas Delman was become a traction of Monas. We can explore Monas area by this unique transportation for just Rp 15.000. To attract tourist, the driver decorated their delman with bright color and wrapping papers.

But the last couple of years, Monas area is prohibited for delman. Now their role is replaced by two tourism trains to carry out tourist from parking area to the main gate or the other way. Sadeli, a Monas delman driver, said that their feel more comfortable to ride in Monas area. Because they can get more tourists and, of course, income if they ride in Monas area. He claimed that he can get Rp 250.000 a day if they ride in the area. Now they are very lucky if they can get Rp 100.000 a day gross! They operate outside the Monas area now, on the street. And it is very dangerous for them because the traffic.

According to the regulation Monas area is prohibited for delman for cleanness reason. Before the regulation there were about 90 delmans in this area but now there are only 30 of them. Most of them was tired to play 'cat and mouse' with security officers.

In other city, like Yogyakarta for example, delman is conserved and protected, but why in this city this culture were thrown away? Should it be vanished in the name of progression and modernization?

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