National Geographic : 1951 Jan
Republican Indonesia Tries Its Wings norace Isrisoi, IllacK star Strung on a Roasting Spit, This Suckling Pig Soon Will Become a Barbecue Dinner The laughing Balinese gives assurance that roasting will be done to a turn, for his job is to rotate the pig over a charcoal fire. The girl ladles in stuffing made of chopped herbs and condiments. Roast pigs are offered to gods at temple festivals, and eaten later by the people. seen and heard everywhere. There are Mer deka streets, squares, and hotels; "Merdeka" also has become a formal salutation. Today Djakarta, capital of the Republic, is busy and congested. In hotels I shared rooms with as many as five other persons. Houses are at a premium. "Band Music" for Pedal-cab Riders Among the motorcars, trucks, and squadrons of bicycles that crowd the streets, I saw only a few of the old familiar two-wheeled pony carts. Most of them have given way to the betjaks, three-wheeled bicycle-rickshas in which the rider sits precariously facing traffic while a man pedals from behind. Gaily painted, and labeled with equally colorful names, they are the poor man's taxis. In some I heard odd musical humming sounds as I rode. Finally I located the source; between supports underneath the chairs ped alers stretch long rubber bands which vibrate in the wind when the betjaks are in motion. Djakarta's streetcars seem always jammed to capacity. I was advised to shun them, for fountain pens and pocketbooks are apt to dis appear. During the recent years of strife many lawless persons have gravitated to the cities, where they can "pick" an easy living. Many streets in old Batavia are unsafe to travel at night. By day, however, I roamed narrow lanes in the old section, saw the numer ous Chinese shops, and watched Javanese womenfolk washing clothes, vegetables, their youngsters, and themselves along the canals. I priced black-market American cigarettes sold by street hawkers and found that, at the bank rate of exchange of roughly 71 rupiah (guilders) to one United States dollar, they cost 90 cents a package. One popular local brand of cigarettes which in Djakarta cost me the equivalent of 40 cents, I bought later in Djokjakarta and Bali for 33 cents; in Sumatra they were 80 cents.