I arrived in Yogya yesterday at 8:45 in the morning. Before my Fulbright grant starts in earnest, I have the opportunity for two weeks of language study. As I had expected, the hotel did not have my room ready and so I went down to Jalan Malioboro, a major tourist destination with lots of shopping. I turned down a side street to the area that were my stomping grounds in Yogya when I was younger. No more than 10 steps down that street then someone asks, “Hey, don’t I know you.” It was Agus, he runs a losman, a small simple inn, that targets backpackers (young westerners who travel the world on very small budgets). It was good to see an old friend.

We talked about many things – esp. the way that things change and the way that they stay the same. Many businesses in this “backpacker ghetto” had closed or changed, but in many respects the neighborhood remained unchanged.

Unprompted, Agus related some significant changes. With the fasting month of Ramadan starting soon – no bars are open and may not open again until after the month of Ramadan has concluded. This law reflects a number of interested changes for Indonesia. First , is the change from the long held perspective that what someone does is a matter between themselves and God. Indonesia has not taken the step of enforcing the fast – in Malaysia a Muslim faces a $100 fine if they are caught not fasting. However, forcing all bars and dance clubs to close during Ramadan has significance beyond Muslims. Muslims aren’t supposed to drink in the first place, but I suppose in order for bars to be profitable some people who have “Muslim” written on their ID cards must drink. Agus said that this law shows respect for Muslims and that he likes it. I had heard of this law before but was under the impression that these laws were local ordinances and not national. Agus suggested that while they were local ordinances that a mandate came out of the central government for such local ordinances.