Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Independence Day

Australians are pretty laid back about national holidays. Australia Day is pretty tame, probably because we didn't have to fight anybody to be an independent nation. On the other hand, I know that Independence Day is a big occasion in the US, because you guys had to kick out the Brits in order to become a nation.

Tomorrow is Indonesian Independence Day, and I must say it's a huge deal here. Indonesia was ruled by the Dutch for 500 years, so when they finally kicked them out it was a significant event. Actually, in some respects the Indonesians have to thank Japan, since Indonesia was occupied by Japan during WW2, and after Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, the Indonesians basically refused to let the Dutch back in. Of course, that's my simplistic version, when in reality there was long drawn out fighting between nationalist Indonesian forces and the Dutch for several years.

Anyway, it's such a big deal here that even the poorest families buy Indonesian flags at this time of the year to hang in front of their houses. The streets are full of red and white flags, banners and colored lights, and cars, buses, trucks and motor cycles also have flags attached. The flags started appearing two weeks ago, and it's quite a spectacular sight given that tomorrow is the day. A lot of small roadside vendors have made extra money this month by adding flags to their normal inventory of snack food, drinks, motor cycle parts, fruit, bumper stickers or potted plants.


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