Saturday, July 02, 2011


Not the candy bar. The third installment of my delightful series about things in Indonesia that leave me shaking my head.

Jilbob/Jilbabs are the Muslim head covering worn by many women here in Indonesia.  I understand that it's part of their beliefs.  I intend no offense by this post, but I am slightly confused.  If the purpose of the jilbob is modesty then why it is common for women here to wear them with tight, sometimes really tight, clothing. This photo is from the web, not my own, but it's exactly what I see. When their clothes are tighter than mine, that means that I (the westerner) is more modest?
Another note about clothing.  I can only think of three options for why 90% of the population here is in clothes that don't fit them properly.  1 - They only sell mirrors like those in amusement park fun houses.  2 - They take cast off clothes from anyone and anywhere they can find them as a part of the dire poverty here.  3 - They all used to be much fatter or thinner and their brains don't register what they actually look like.  I don't laugh at those in option two.  I realize there is a large part of the population who suffer immense poverty.  It's the ones walking around Grand Indonesia mall (one of the malls with Prada and Burberry) in ill fitting clothing that I don't get.
Half are a bit like this
Half are a bit towards this end of the spectrum.
Many Indonesians are very petite, men and women.  In the US we would think that they would look good in anything (the women) and would find shopping easily. It's always the size 0s, 2s and 4s that are left on the racks. Not only easy to find, but on sale to boot.  Compare that to the bule who can't find anything that fits after visiting twelve shops unless the are foreign shops.  So much for cheap clothing in Asia!
My solution is to print this on all clothing labels!
One more for today.  JIKS is an idiosyncratic place.  I rarely know what to expect one week to the next.  We are given a calendar for the year but it seems to only hold true about 62% of the time.  There are random bursts of generosity though.  Today we were told at 11:53 that we could go home early.  Yeaaa!! Oh wait, our English department end of semester dinner is tonight and most of us are carpooling to get there.  I already cancelled my ojek. We can't take the early leave on Monday instead and of course they couldn't have told us in advance.  Hmmm, maybe not so generous.  They randomly give gifts too.  The school is building a new High school building.  They tore the old one down and when they laid the cornerstone for the new building we all got towels.  They are silk screened with something in Korean and the JIKS logo.  They are a strange size: bigger than a hand towel, smaller than a bath towel.  A couple months later for teacher's day we got soap.  A box of six big bars of Amway produced white soap.  They smell nice but I live alone; what am I going to do with six bars of soap?  The highlight of yesterday was that the grade five mothers brought in a big array of food for lunch for us.  I'm not a huge fan of most of it, but it silenced my growling stomach and helped the previous class fade away.
This exact soap.  The bars are about 5"x3"x1" (12.5cm x 7.5 cm x 2.5cm).


  1. Well, look at it this way: you won't have to buy soap for the rest of your stay there. Or you can give your friends soaps whenever they run out and have no time to buy some ;)


  2. I tried to give it away to friends with no takers. I haven't even started on bar #1. Maybe I should hand it out on the street corner.

  3. Oh...I really like your post about the jilbab with tight clothes's a plague around here (in my country). A lot of..erm...'debate' on this. Finally I can get a point of view from a non-muslim. It's a shame, really hate that. Wish they would throw their headscarf away instead of making people's not modesty at all n definitely not how a muslim woman should present herself.

    Shenzi, Malaysia