Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS)

Top photo: Channel News Asia (CNA) television crew I was working with in the making of Boomtown Asia Documentary inspecting an art work at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS).

Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SSAS) is one of quite a few private art galleries -- and probably one of the most prominent -- in Bandung. The art space was officially opened in September 1998 following a four-year construction that began in 1993. (It was completed in 1997, but was not officially opened until 1998.) Occupying an area of 5,000 square meters in the scenic northern hills of the Dago area, SSAS is the dream child of Mr. Sunaryo, a prominent Indonesian artist and sculptor who was also a lecturer at Bandung Institute of Technology.

To get more information about it, you can follow the link I have made above.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Motorcyclist Masks, Gloves, and Rain Jackets

A street vendor selling masks, gloves, and rain jackets for motorcyclists on the road side of Jalan Supratman Street.

You can find this scene in many parts of the city. Street vendors (or the Kaki Lima as we call them) are an important part of the city's economy. They provide livelihood for those who would otherwise be left unemployed because they could not find a job in the formal sector. As such, they become a significant social and economic safety valve against potential social unrest. However, their existence can also be a threat to the pedestrians' safety because they occupy the sidewalks and prevent pedestrians from using them. Pedestrians are often forced to use the body of the street to get around because of their existence.

Regulations and law enforcement dealing with the kaki lima are generally week weak in the city. I really wish that the government could be more responsive about this issue. They should find a way to balance the need of providing employment and livelihood to those who can not make it to the formal sector and the convenience and safety interests of pedestrians.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

'Bubur Sumsum'

A street vendor selling 'bubur sumsum' serving a customer at Jalan Geger Kalong Girang in the north of Bandung.

Bubur sumsum literally means bone marrow porridge. However, this local sweet delicacy has nothing to do at all with bone marrow. It is a porridge, yes. But it is entirely made of rice flour and other ingredients derived from plants, like coconut milk, palm sugar, etc. It has no animal ingredients whatsoever. The name was probably given because of its look: white and smooth like marrow.

Bubur sumsum is usually eaten for breakfast or afternoon snack. Because of its savory and sweet taste, however, this light meal is often served as a dessert to fit in the Western style of dining and translated as rice pudding.

If you want to know how it tastes, you may try to make it yourself. Here is the recipe written in English that I found on the web.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Braving The Street

With the sidewalk packed with street vendors, pedestrians on Jalan Purnawarman (Purnawarman Street) are forced to brave the street and the traffic to get their way. This scene is not uncommon in commercial streets in Bandung. In fact, the sidewalks and pedestrian safety do not seem to be the priority in the city's government development policy. Many sidewalks are either too small/narrow, in disrepair, or have become dysfunctional because they have been invaded by street vendors or used as illegal parking space.

I wish the city's government would soon do something about it and make pedestrian safety a priority. A walkable city would definitely be beneficial to the tourism industry that the city is trying to boost.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Train Ride at Alun-Alun Bandung

The photo: A train ride for children at Alun-Alun Bandung (Bandung City Square).

As I said in some of my previous posts, Alun-Alun Bandung is a crowded and lively place. A lot of activities take place here, this train ride being one of them.

Alun-alun Bandung is a park by designation, but it looks more more like a open air market where vendors offering all sorts of things can be found. Located right at the front yard of Bandung Grand Mosque, it may look and feel like an odd appendix to the mosque, especially to a foreigner. But to those who are familiar with our tradition, this may not be as strange as it looks.

The juxtaposing of the mundane (the market) and the holy (the mosque) in an alun-alun  (city square) is by tradition a symbolic spatial orientation, where the mosque is placed at the western edge of the square and the market at the southern edge. However, the current situation with Alun-Alun Bandung is very different. Instead of being placed a square apart, the market has moved into the square, therefore making it looks like part/an appendix of the mosque. Where the market was - at the southern edge of the square - is now an abandoned and ugly looking building that used to be a department store.

I'm still using my toy camera to take this picture. That's why it looks like the way it is.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Semar at Merdeka Food Court and Bakery

This is a Semar statue at the passageway that connects Jalan Purnawarman and Jalan Merdeka through the Merdeka Food Court and Bakery.

This is what Wikipedia says about Semar:
Semar is a character in Javanese mythology who frequently appears in wayang shadow plays. He is one of the punokawan (clowns), but is in fact divine and very wise. He is the dhanyang (guardian spirit) of Java, and is regarded by some as the most sacred figure of the kotak (wayang set). He is said to be the god Sang Hyang Ismaya in human form. The name Semar is said to derive from the Javanese word samar ("dim, obscure, mysterious"). He is often referred to with the honorific, "Kyai Lurah Semar" ("the venerable chief").

You can read more about it here.

You may have noticed that this photo is not of crisp and clear quality. That's because I took it with a toy camera on my cell phone. I lost (again) the pocket 12 MP pocket digital camera that I used to carry anywhere, and so for the the time being I am resorting to my mobile phone camera to take everyday pictures.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chinese New Year's Rituals - A Photo Essay

Back in 2009, I posted a story about Chinese New Year's Festivities in Bandung. Since then, I have not posted any other similar stories. Last week, I received a series of wonderful black and white photographs of the Chinese New Year rituals from a young and talented photographer whom I met last year in a couple of photography workshops in which I was asked to mentor.

Ali Mecca, the name of the photographer, is a film and photography student at a Pasundan University in Bandung.

This is the text that he wrote to accompany the above pictures after I edited it:

Under the "New Order" regime (1966 - 1998), the Indonesian ethnic Chinese endured a discriminatory treatment. Their cultural identity was subsumed under the mainstream national identity. They were encouraged to use Indonesian names in lieu of their Chinese names, given a different ID card that differentiated them from the indigenous Indonesian, and were not allowed to perform and show their cultural heritage in public.

The advent of Reform Era (Era Reformasi) changed all that. Under the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid (October 1999 - July 2001) the government reinstated the Indonesian ethic Chinese civic and cultural rights and made the Chinese New Year a national holiday. Since then, the Chinese New Year has once again become a festivity that is celebrated throughout the country, not only among the Chinese, but also by many other Indonesians.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Does Chocolate Grow on A Tree?

Does chocolate grow on a tree?

Yes, it does. The fruit doesn't look like a bar of chocolate that you'd usually find on a supermarket shelf though. It looks green like the ones in this photo when it's young and yellow and reddish brown when it's ripe.

The chocolate fruit (called cocoa or cacao) is not eaten for its flesh. It is the seeds that are extracted from the fruit. These seeds are then dried and fermented to make the basic ingredient of the chocolate that we know.

I saw these cacao fruits on a tree near my office in the north of Bandung.