Jakarta, like most cities in developing countries, is very much a city of contrasts with mansions in Pondok Indah rivalling those in Beverly Hills, California, and slums in south Jakarta reminiscent of Calcutta. It is also noisey, gritty, smoggy, and sweaty. But it still has some of the nicest people in the world. You just have to engage them.
The OFI office is in a very typical part of Jakarta, a middle-middle class area with very narrow streets (just wide enough for two small cars to squeeze by each other if both drivers are very careful). Each household has a car. There are two parks closeby, one small and the other quite large, where children are allowed to play and people walk and jog.
Closeby is a market. The market sells fish and chicken and there are cats galore. The Indonesian attitude towards cats is remarkable. They are tolerated and almost treated as if semi-sacred. Mohommed himself respected cats. It is written that a cat was sleeping on his prayer rug. Rather than disturbing the cat Mohommed carefully cut around the cat to move his rug so that he could pray. However, even in the non-Moslem areas of Indonesia, cats are given much respect and never killed. If an Indonesian kills a cat by accident with a car, it is a major trauma. People have been known to sell their cars immediately after the car hit a cat. I know an Indonesian who blamed all his subsequent misfortune to having accidentally run over a cat in the dark.
Most cats in Indonesia have short, crooked tails. Visitors ask if someone cut their tails off but it is not so. The short tails come from genetics. Our cat whom we named “Siamese” because she bears a superficial (and possibly genetic) resemblence to Siamese cats in her elegance, large eyes, and screeching vocalizations, started appearing at the OFI office. Eventually we let her in and started giving her left-over rice and tidbits. Her visits became more frequent. Now she comes daily and brings her offpsring with her. I have tried to get her spayed but she is either perpetually pregnant or suckling her kitten(s).
Ms. Renie and Mr. Yandi who work at the OFI office say that a cat’s life near an Indonesian local market is a good one. “Siamese” tends to have one kitten at a time, anyways, they say so there won’t be a cat overpopulation any time soon. Her last litter consisted of a remarkably beautiful orange-colored kitten that has no stripes of any kind. I have noticed that the rats have disappeared around the office. We are fortunate to have this elegant cat and her brood visiting and sometimes even staying at our OFI office in Jakarta.
Did I not mention that a presidential campaign is going on and the three major candidates for president, which include the current president, a past president, and the current vice-president, are actually participating in official debates? The polls indicate the current president will win but probably not by a 50% majority which means that there will be a run-off election.