Category Archives: Culture

Facing gender inequality In Indonesia, not so different from the West

Last week, I sat on the floor of a community hall watching 12 men devour full plates of steamed corn, sweet potatoes, and bananas, washing down their mouthfuls with swigs of black coffee. The women who had graciously served this … Continue reading

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Jakartans claim public spaces wherever they can find room

If you have noticed the long lull between posts on this blog, you are simply watching what happens after about a year of living in a foreign country. What was once a surprising and obvious topic for a blog has … Continue reading

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Thais weigh peace, democracy

The situation in Thailand escalated from martial law to full-blown military coup around 5 p.m. on May 22. Despite new restrictions imposed by the army (especially those limiting media outlets), most Thais are sticking to their usual daily routines, and … Continue reading

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For Balinese New Year, the meaning is in the doing

On the raucous party island of Bali, Nyepi is a fascinating example of one culture’s sanctity being preserved against the odds. Continue reading

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Three years after quake, Christchurch slowly rebuilds

To escape Indonesia’s humid tropical climate, we met Katherine’s parents for a vacation in temperate New Zealand. New Zealand and Indonesia share at least one thing in common: a high level of seismic and volcanic activity. As I write this, … Continue reading

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America is not a “banana republic”: A response to Salon.com

In a recent Salon.com article, “Look at the stats: America resembles a poor country,” writer CJ Werlemen likens America to a Third World nation. Having spent the last three-plus years in developing countries, I feel this deserves comment. I don’t … Continue reading

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Jakartans jockey carpool laws

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve read all about the trials of Jakarta traffic, but there are a few fascinating tidbits left to learn. The city has in fact made an attempt at limiting traffic on the most major … Continue reading

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Bangkok can provide lessons for Jakarta

When describing Indonesia, people often refer to its nearest neighbors as points of comparison. These include Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. Its two fellow middle-income countries, the Philippines and Thailand, make useful points of comparison because their respective capitals, … Continue reading

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Jakarta’s festive, grisly holiday

On Tuesday, Indonesian Muslims sacrificed animals to please Allah. In doing so they remembered the story of Abraham from the Quran, who was willing to sacrifice his own son for God, and they remembered God’s kindness for providing a sheep … Continue reading

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Streetside livestock bring redemption and risk

Once a year New York City sidewalks fill up with pine trees for sale. Once a year Jakarta sidewalks fill up with livestock for sale. As Muslims plan to sacrifice them in Allah’s name – as I wrote in our … Continue reading

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