My New Year's Resolutions
It came to me like a single loud 'pang' in my head, obviously inspired by the firecracker frenzy in the community lately. It happened on the day when my beautician rang.
"New Year's eve is only two days away. I've got this season's hottest make up kit ready in my suitcase. Glittery dust is definitely so passé. I have a warm, gold base colour collection instead. It'll match beautifully with your Randolph Duke gown and Sergio Rossi shoes. I know that you are stuck in Jakarta, so where are you going to celebrate the end of the real millennium - the Hyatt, Regent or Mercantile? Now that Shangri-La is not an option," he blabbered in his high pitch voice heavily flavoured with feminine accent. He stopped in the middle of the long sentence; leaving me to gag for fresh air - not knowing what to say.
There were basically three big bash celebrations held within a week last December. My family tradition of roast turkey Christmas lunch was marred by the breaking news my friends relayed to me (hooked on HBO Holiday Specials, the news channels were out of the question for a couple of days). The massive bomb explosions across the country killed 16 innocent people while they were attending services in their churches. What kind of a wacko would do such a thing?
The next day one unidentified police officer based in Jakarta was quoted in the local newspaper as saying that there were a lot of bombs found in the mosques at the end of Ramadhan. Every single bomb was successfully removed from the buildings. He added that the facts erased the speculation to blame one religious extremist group as responsible for the Christmas Eve bombings. I thought, o-yes, and that is supposed to make me feel better? So instead of one lunatic group walking around free in this beautiful country, there are actually two or more!
The Iedul Fitri celebration went, thank God, well and safe. Though a lot of Moslems were reluctant to go to the mosques because of the fellow Christians' similar fear. O no, the provocateurs were smarter than that.
Back to the New Year's party. Now, how could I think about the hottest fashion theme after that horrified bloody week? If only I had been invited to a costume party, I would have been dressed as a bomb squad crewmember. That would have cracked them up!
And where should I go? Almost all of the famous entertainment establishments in this city are owned by or related to politically well connected people - at least from the last regime. Which can also be considered as risky due to the potential for demonstrations by street hooligans or by the adult version of firecracker maniacs. I felt intimidated already.
After a thorough research and a lengthy debate with my friends, we finally chose a big American-run four-star hotel as our party destination. You see, I could almost hear you people wooing already. Don't worry, we have been through the discussions. My friends objected to the place because of the Palestine issue. I personally objected because of the way the hotel management had chosen to represent themselves in the community. I just could hardly fancy myself spending New Year's Eve in a place that boasts about their red lip chicken stocks to attract possible male clientele. In the heat of the discussion, we found ourselves staring at each other. What were we actually doing? We must have looked more like we were planning a political coup than a fun party.
So the American hotel it was. We donned the best traffic stopping, head-turning outfits we could find - to discover what? The café was half empty, adorned with screaming children who run around in circles with their bored looking parents and some hippies who were dressed in something slightly better than pyjamas. Even the café was decorated almost like a children's playground for God sake! White and purple balloons towered in the centre of the dining area. Well, we definitely looked like a group of lost aliens in that place. Great!
Obviously the Christmas tragedy and dozens of bomb threats for New Year's Eve had had an effect. A lot of people had chosen to stay at home where it's more safe and secure. Plus the fact that the two big holidays are only two days apart left a lot of families' servant-less and babysitter-less. The situation allowed them very limited alternatives. They couldn't throw parties at home as they had nobody to clean up the mess. They couldn't leave their toddlers at home while they had fun in the city because there wasn't anybody to take care of the children. So instead, the party freak parents just took their children to restaurants and turned the place into a shipwreck, like where we went.
Disappointed by our millennium dinner, we decided to cruise along the streets in South Jakarta to find decent bars to hang out in. O no, we didn't dare approach Jl. Sudirman! With the clock ticking toward midnight, the famous street was just flooded with carbon monoxide-addicted crowds.
The first club we headed to in Kemang was still closed since a truckload of radicals ransacked the place during the fasting month. We were still trapped - cruising in the car when the Bvlgari on my left wrist showed that it was already 12 a.m. Good Lord, here comes another year! And we didn't even have a glass of champagne in our hands, how pathetic! I closed my eyes to say my New Year's wishes when a group of youngsters on the street set off several firecrackers - so loud that I thought a bomb had exploded on the hood of our car - and they shouted: "Happy New Year!" Only I wasn't happy, I was scared to death.