Monday, April 30, 2007

Dancing In the Street

Busking is a common occupation in many of the world cities. In my home metropolis of London for example, the underground stations often reverberate to the sound of saxophones and amplified guitars and many of these street musicians are actually talented music students trying to make a few shekels. In fact they've now become a tourist attraction in their own right.

It works a little differently in Jakarta however. When you pull up behind a line of traffic at the lights here, hoping to drive through the junction before the effects of global warming submerge it in 3 feet of water, you'll be confronted with someone rather less likely to be an undergraduate at the Juilliard School of music. Often you will be faced with one or two guys staring in at you through your windscreen. They may be shaking a stick with bottle tops nailed to it and singing in a monotone whine. If they're lucky (and you’re unlucky) they may have a guitar between them. These guitars are the cheapest available and are, in fact, impossible to play properly. For a start, they appear to be strung with cheese wire and secondly they don't stay in tune as you play up the fretboard. I can actually play guitar but almost had my fingers sliced in twain when I once tried one of these buskers' torture instruments.

Busking here is thus inverted from its usual function. Instead of paying them because you like the sound that they are making, one basically pays buskers in Jakarta in order to make them go away and assault someone else's eardrums. We all know that if you slip them a couple of thousand Rupiah then they shoot away, after a courteous Terimah Kasih, like greyhounds after a rabbit. Mind you, if you don't pay them then they can sometimes get a bit shirty and flick you off with a few choice non Anglo-Saxon swear words or indeed bang on the car or taxi. Even hip swinging transvestite buskers can get tetchy at times and have the advantage of possessing longer nails with which to scratch your paintwork.

These impromptu street jams often resemble the fun preliminary heats of American Idol; the ones in which tone deaf sociopathic wannabes induce reactions in the three judges akin to somebody dragging their fingernails down a blackboard. In fact, maybe the local franchise, Indonesian Idol, should head out onto the streets in search of a few comedy contestants for the early rounds.

Sadly though, many of Jakarta's buskers are just vulnerable little kids. Some are orphans whilst others are pushed by their impoverished parents to earn money on the streets during hard times. Non-governmental organizations such as Yayasan Griya Asih, Jakarta Street Kids Global Concern or the ISCO Foundation often advise people not to give these kids money as it only encourages poor parents and criminal groups to exploit them by sending them begging into the traffic day after day. It seems like an act of kindness to slip these poor waifs a few Rupiah but if the aim is to discourage children from busking and get them off the streets and into schools, then maybe it would indeed be better to divert any cash to organizations such as the ones mentioned above.

It is perhaps understandable that the city’s Street kids are often lacking passion in their vocal performances. Being hungry and often victims of violence and sexual abuse, musical talent is probably the last thing on their minds. The government aren't much help either. Many street kids are intimidated and even beaten up by public order officials and a current issue hitting the headlines here is the huge number of Indonesian families unable to even afford birth certificates for their offspring, surely a basic human right. No birth certificate, no school.

Apparently, there are over 150,000 children plying people on Jakarta's streets; busking, laughing, fighting, shining shoes, getting involved in petty crime, taking drugs, prostituting themselves, contracting AIDS and, of course, playing some of the most shocking music ever heard. The 1989 UN Convention on the rights of children specifies rights to a home, health care and an education among other things. Here though, these are pie in the sky wishes for many adults as well as children.

So, to sum up, we’re on the horns of a dilemma here. Either don’t give the buskers Rp.1000 and help to discourage the ear drum abuse in the longer term by keeping them off the streets, or go for the quick fix of shutting them up with a few coins and then breathe an instant sigh of relief when they take their caterwauling elsewhere. Politics is never simple is it?


Simon Pitchforth

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kings for a Day

A couple of years ago, the war on corruption became a tangible reality for me and a two of my friends as opposed to just being a snappy soundbite emanating from the mustachioed lips of unctuous politicians.

At the time I was in need of new digs quickly and was desperate for somewhere to rest my weary bones of an evening. Then, in the nick of time, a close friend of mine invited me to stay in a huge mansion he had just moved into in an exclusive rich man's housing complex just off Jalan Rasuna Said. I went and had a look around the place. To say it was palatial is something of an understatement. You could have gone hang gliding off the chandeliers in this drum and then swam a few laps of the bath tub. "You can stay here for free," he told me. "What the hell is going on?" was my bemused reply.

The story went as follows. One evening a couple of weeks previously, my chum and a follically challenged German friend of ours had been enjoying a drink on Jakarta's backpacker street of broken dreams, Jl. Jaksa. There they had made the acquaintance of a young British banker of dubious professional standing and moral scruples. He told them that he was currently looking after the finances of (read: laundering the ill gotten gains of) a rich Indonesian family who had fled to Singapore to escape corruption charges arrayed against them. He was also responsible for looking after their abandoned mansion and making sure that no harm befell it. He subsequently invited my two friends to move in rent-free. All they would be liable for would be the monthly bills and the upkeep of the place.

Well, my friends leapt at the chance and pretty soon all three of us were firmly ensconced in the Chateau, peeling each other grapes and entertaining lordly fantasies of throwing a Great Gatsby style party on the mezzanine. I think I even started using the word lavatory instead of toilet.

So, who did the house really belong to? Who exactly were these bourgeois fugitives from justice? Well, a little Internet research told us that we had hit the big-time. In fact, the owners of our palace were on the top 10 most wanted list of Indonesian swindlers. The family had owned a chain of duck farms around Java and invited local farmers to invest in the project under a cooperative umbrella. Everything had been going swimmingly and Mr. Duck (Donald?) had been gaining plaudits and kudos as a man of the people and supporter of local agro-business. Then bird flu hit the headlines and the operation started to go belly up, quite literally I presume. You can probably guess the rest. When the going gets dodgy the dodgy get going. Donald (not his real name) and family fled to Singapore with millions and millions of US dollars worth of the poor investors’ money. Now Singapore, as I'm sure you're aware, is reluctant to sign an extradition treaty with this country due to the colossal amounts of cash that Indonesian corruptors who have fled there inject into the local economy. Thus Donald Trump-Duck (trumped up?) and family reside on the island state to this present day, sitting pretty on their duck laid nest egg.

Back at the ranch though, we were enjoying the palatial life to the max, although admittedly I had to walk quite far out of the posh complex in order to find a decent, cheap fried rice. Actually, now I come to think of it, the Sat Pam (security guard) and the maid's family were also at each other's throats now that the Great webbed footed patriarch had flown the nest. These were minor drawbacks, however, compared with the pleasure of seeing our itinerant friends' jaws drop when we invited them over for a beer.

Nagging doubts remained however. Were we morally complicit in this guy's crimes by looking after his house for him? Were we bad people for doing this, even though we were doing it for ourselves (rent-free remember)? Should we serve sparkling wine at the party and pretend that it's champagne?

In the end, the matter was taken out of our hands. One morning, a lawyer for the poor, ripped off farmers turned up at the house of informed us that in a week's time, these sorry sons of the soil would be holding a large demonstration outside the house and that us pale faces may wish to consider moving out. Then, a couple of days later, Mrs. Duck turned up and informed us that the house had been sold, their furniture and belongings would be packed up and sent to Singapore the following day and that we should move out by the weekend.

And so all of our bourgeois fantasies came crashing down to earth after a mere six weeks of the high life. We never did get to hold a party or even find out what happened at the farmers' demo. Hopefully they torched the house but my gut feeling of Javanese deference (some would say subservience) tells me that it was a polite affair. In any other country there would have been bricks flying through the windows.

However, at least we managed to assuage our feelings of guilt and complicity in the whole sorry corrupt saga by pilfering a few items from the house before we left. Robin Hood lives! Yes, they take from the rich and give to... themselves. As I type this, a couple of hand-painted wooden ducks are staring down inscrutably at me from my computer desk.

Simon Pitchforth

Friday, April 20, 2007

righteous indignation

Got a few comments viz my atheistic rant. No actual death threats yet though.Here's one:
How did a half-wit get a column in the esteemed Jakarta Post?
That was one. You can blame my friend Chris who used to work there. Not sure how "Esteemed" the Sunday Post is though. Another one was:
This is someone who doesn't now that he doesn't know and that there is a very thin line between a fanatic and an ignorant.
Try reading it again. No, I'm none the wiser either. Also received was:
Way too rational Simon, whilst you are (I assume) prepared to acknowledge that there MAY be intelligent design, I doubt very much that your average monotheist will provide for the possibility that your view might be true.


Good point there from Geordie. I tried hard not to be offensive and argue rationally but the you can always count on the dogged certainty of the faithful. Whatever happened to doubt and soul searching? They used to be an integral part of religions.
Last word to my drinking sparring partner Rich:

your worse than a heathen son of Satan, you gosh darned COMMUNIST and you need to REPENT and buy some guns.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Revenge of the Godless Freaks

The long Easter break last weekend gave Godless freaks such as myself an opportunity to reflect upon their position both in Indonesia and in the world in general. Atheism is all the rage at the moment and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and Sam Harris's The End of Faith have both hit the tops of the bestseller lists. Reading both books, as I and various friends have done, seemed to crystallize arguments that have been knocking around the dusty alleys of my mind for many years. However, neither book is likely to be translated into Indonesian soon. If they were, then no doubt the FPI/ Betawi Brotherhood board of censorship would be hitting branches of Gramedia with their fire lighters before one could say, “Peace be upon him." The anti-Communist knee-jerk reaction remains strong here.

Dawkins, in his book, reflects on how owning up to atheism is something akin to coming out as a homosexual in many societies. In Indonesia, it is perhaps even worse than this. At least your homosexual can put on a dress, bang a tambourine and assume a position in the social system, however marginalized. However, when Indonesians, such as my students, occasionally ask me what religion I am and I reply, "Erm... none actually," their reaction is largely one of utter alienation and incredulity. Religion is a major tool in the highly conformist, mind control culture of this country and indeed it is (still) compulsory to have a faith printed on your ID card.

So, hard as it is for my students to get their heads round my beliefs, or lack thereof, the fact remains that your average young(ish) European is more likely to be an unbeliever than a believer. This is a very different story from Indonesia and indeed the US. I guess the rejection of absolutism in Europe after the Hitlerian excesses of World War II has sunk deeply into the mindset of the baby boomer generation’s offspring.

So why be a godless freak? Well indulge me for a few moments and allow me to thrash out the issue this Sunday. By the way all letters pointing out my future tenure in hell should be addressed to the Jakarta Post, and don't forget the stamp.

As someone interested in science, my lack of belief is partly guided by biology. Religion, although obviously in denial about this, hit the buffers in a serious way when Darwin first proposed his theory of natural selection in the 19th-century and then again when Crick and Watson first discovered the DNA code for organic life in the 1950s. The theory of evolution has been proved way beyond all reasonable doubt from fossil records and from biological research through to actual evolutionary trends themselves being set in motion with insect populations in laboratories. Natural selection, however, is currently under attack like never before from western creationists (re: intelligent design) and in Indonesia, the hypothesis that we descended from monkeys is an utterly ludicrous blasphemy.

In fact, a contemplation of evolution is perhaps more conducive to egalitarian society than the tribal partisanship of the monotheistic religions that dominate the planet. All life has a common origin, says the science. Not only that but all human beings are genetically 99.9% identical. Yes, we really are all brothers (well, cousins actually). In fact, humans also contain 60% of the genetic material contained in bananas, a fact more apparent in some of my acquaintances than others. Only the bottom-up mechanism of natural selection can logically explain the emergence of life. Belief in a top-down, divine creator only raises the perennial question that any eight-year-old comes up with, "Who made God?" Explaining the implausibility of life with something even more implausible is not any kind of explanation as far as us Godless freaks are concerned.

Science aside, other godless freak arguments are more social and metaphysical in derivation. Religions purport to be a force of social cohesion needed to structure society. Unfortunately though, our monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, all proclaim themselves the one true way, a fact that leads directly to a clash of civilizations and the various wars that blight this country. Previously, religions were much more inclusive. "Thought of a new God? Well we'll pray to him too!" However, the Jews, followed by the Christians and Muslims put a stop to all that with their parochial exclusivity. The result is that the broader themes of religion are so often subsumed by suspicion of the other and endless vendetta. This is especially true here where religion (like politics) often seems to be little deeper than a football match i.e. "My team's better than your team," with any debate about our common humanity being swept aside in a cacophony of ritualistic shouting.

In fact, our monotheistic religions seem to be mainly prescriptive as opposed to descriptive and thus produce a rather insubstantial, shallow type of morality. They have reduced life to a set of rules to be followed. In contrast, as Sam Harris reflects in his book, older belief systems such as Buddhism were far more eloquent on the subject of individual consciousness and of the eternal, internal dialogue of the mind. It's only by understanding yourself fully as a conscious, mortal creature that one can respect other beings as the same and thus a deeper morality and ethics can emerge. Ordinarily though, being the only animals that know they are going to die one day, humans seem to need the opiating qualities of religion, their shiny eyes transfigured by the light of heaven and reductive systems of reward and punishment.

Moderate religious voices contest that their religions do not advocate violence and murder. In fact, all the biggies do. From the unbelievably vindictive and vengeful God of the Old Testament to various verses in the Koran, for example: “Those who deny our revelation shall be punished for their misdeeds" [6:49] Religious texts are often self-contradictory in ways that can be used to justify war and terrorism as much as peace, and thus moderate religious voices, being bound to the same texts as extremists, really have little to offer as a mediating moral force. In Dawkins's scientific view, human morality is, in fact, also a process subject to evolution and is not essentially based on several thousand year old works of literature.

Finally, of course, our religious texts say little about CO2 emissions, stem cell research, overpopulation and all of the other important issues of the day. If we have to have religion then a bit more contemporary resonance would be nice. I wouldn’t like to be the one trying to set up a new faith in Indonesia though; you’d be dead or in jail before you could even hold your first prayer meeting.

Well it's been fun to be able to think philosophically and, most importantly, openly about these issues even though there may be people of faith reading who are this minute cursing me as a Western, heathen son of Satan who probably spent Easter weekend drinking vodka and watching pornography (in fact I did do that; but that's all by the by). Us godless freaks deserve our say too though I think. I'll see you all in hell.

Simon Pitchforth

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I've been sent some interesting comments from those unfortunate enough to stumble upon my blog:

Great survey, Simon.

BATS - what is it with this place? As you noted, this place is eternal, and the stock of ladies is typically well past ripe. The lighting reveals more than the inebriation can disguise.

As for Tiga Puluh, my last trip there many months ago found women in evening gowns that presumably have been on the game since the Sukarno era. I would take my girlfriend there - the band can be entertaining, but as you alluded to, there is a bit of a caveman-esque thing going on, and escort is required for her every bathroom visit.

I haven't been in CJ's but once years ago, at which time they had a man band of some sort (boy band doesn't quite fit as most were well into their thirties) that was jumping around and making fools of themselves just as you have described, so I suppose not much has changed there.

If you feel you absolutely have to pay US$10 for a drink, then I'd recommend Mistique (or some such misspelling) at the Ritz-Carlton. Much like the BATS crowd - the guys, not so the freelancers, who appeared both more attractive and more scarce, but maybe it's the lighting again. Anyway, the place is more spacious (so less of the spilled drinks and cigarette burns) and perhaps most important to a good ornithologist, the band features a hot Taiwanese girl who doesn't like to hide her body.

As a postscript, how long before Will Ferrell tackles a movie in which he is in a hotel bar band? These people look thrown together by the tides, like a roster of deckhands from anonymous developing nations manning a cruise ship. Drift in, float away weeks/months later, singing crappy pop/rock/rap songs in between. Wouldn't this be pure artistic hell? Was this their dream?

Thanks to Chijoker for that. I'll have a look in the Carlton and try and break the allcomers single drink price record. Let's see if Will is revivng his Ricky Bobby persona in the covers band. Actually the CJs band used to be my personal bete noir. Utter tossbloaters of the highest order. May they be sent to a hell resembling CJs itself upon their death. Also received this:
Nice touch about Peter Butler. I did a piece about him a few weeks back but I understood from a W Ham fan he was commuting from KL to Balikpapan!
Peter was a top bloke although most of his non footballing anecdotes seemed to end with the phrase,"She loved c**k". See y'all soon.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Comparative Study Tour

I had some holiday time couple of weeks ago but was unsure how to best cut loose and enjoy the invigorating natural splendor of Indonesia. I initially started off sitting on the sofa in front of the television, which wasn't a fantastic start. The local infotainment shows were slowly seeping into my unconscious mind, sapping me of the will to live. Infotainment -- it's a bit of a misnomer as far as I'm concerned. In fact, doubly so, what with the programs being neither informative nor entertaining. These shows seem to consist solely of local celebs in their houses, chomping down rice and sitting around on sofas doing precisely bugger all, which was, of course, what I was doing. It's so disconcerting to have one's own indolent self reflected back at one from the TV screen.

Just as I seemed to be entering a never-ending negative feedback loop of sofa abound ennui, it struck me. Of course! I should go and visit my housemate who was doing a short teaching stint in the wilds of Borneo (Balikpapan) and sleep on his sofa for a few days. I leapt off the couch and rode my tricycle down to the travel agents. The next day I was at Soekarno-Hatta, ready to once again test the airworthiness of Indonesia's fleet of rusting jets. I was soon cruising at 30,000 feet without a care in the world although there were few signs of nervous strain on the faces of my fellow passengers as we hit turbulence. "Is it going to be Lion Air's turn this time?" They seemed to be thinking. Lion provided us with no in-flight refreshment but hopefully the money that they save on green pieces of cake and piping cold spring rolls has been diverted into checking that the wings have been screwed on properly.

As I taxied through the town, I was impressed by the general atmosphere of Balikpapan. This is partly, of course, the initial rush that always comes with reaching Jakarta escape velocity. When you leave the capital you sometimes have the strong sensation that you have been holding your breath for months. There then follows a massive exhalation of sulfur and lead particles and a soothing re-inhalation of air more conducive to human life.

Balikpapan seems to be a pleasant and clean city and sprawls lazily down the coast. Some Indonesian towns are very dirty; both dusty as hell in the dry season or rivers of sludge and discarded rice in the wet. Others towns though, seem to display more civic pride and are bright and interesting places to stroll around. Balikpapan, an oil centre, also has more money gushing through it than other Indonesian cities and correspondingly there seems to be a lot of new development and construction underway.

My taxi pulled up at the Pertamina complex which stretches agreeably up a green, wooded hill on the seafront. The idyllic view was only disturbed by the huge metal pipes, storage depots and hoppers belching smoke ominously into the sky like some cosmic chemistry set. Later on that day we went into town to sample the Balikpapan nightlife. The city has a small but active Western expatriate community and we first tried one of the oil men's watering holes which turned out to be, surprise surprise, not unlike a Blok M bar. The only difference being that the females seemed even more predatory and potentially mentally unstable. Then it was onto a higher class kind of joint which was located at a hotel rather haughtily called, "Le Grandeur". We were a long way from Jakarta but it all seemed very familiar. Such places speak volumes about the homogeneity of the Archipelago. Indonesia is supposed to be a fractious nation but everywhere you go in this great country you will find an in-house covers band unifying the nation with their chronic dress sense and endless retreads of Sweet Child 'O' Mine. Perhaps Indonesians have more in common with each other than they realize.

The next day we burned a few kilometers out of town. Once you're off Java and heading away from a major population centre you realize just how sparsely populated the rest of the country is. It makes a serene change. After about half an hour we stopped at a local tourist attraction, a crocodile farm. Here they were offering crocodile satay (which had thankfully sold out by the time we arrived), crocodile skin wallets and crocodile oil which you are supposed to take just before you, "sleep" (euphemism?) The crocs themselves appeared to be completely immobile and dead, as crocs typically do (until they chew your arm off).

Back at the ranch we met up with an interesting character, namely the coach of the local soccer team, Persija Balikpapan, who was also living in the complex. He is an ebullient Englishman who used to play in the English premiership in the mid-90s before moving into management and coming to Asia. The team had just won a match which would explain the massive drunken roar accompanied by fireworks that I had heard emanating from the nearby stadium when I first arrived.

Over a few tins he related some of his Asian experiences to me (not all of them relating to soccer or indeed printable I might add). Sticking with soccer though, he told me how crazy and fanatical fans could be at the matches here and also how most of the teams in the league bribe the referees, which is a depressing thought. If they can't run a clean league in Italy though, what chance have they got here? He did, however, have some great photos taken on his away match travels around Indonesia including some West Papuan tribesmen wearing penis sheaths. "That's the new back four," he said with a large grin on his face.

Simon Pitchforth

Monday, April 02, 2007

Battle of the Sexists

Ladies' nights, with the odd exception, fall on Wednesday and Thursday in Jakarta. Opinions on these nights tend to be very polarized along gender lines and they can bring out the baser instincts of both sexes. For the rare Western or expatriate woman seen in attendance, the smell of haddock in the nostrils can prove a strong impediment to their enjoyment of the cheap or even free booze. For the men, the sudden rush of blood from the brain to the pelvic area can seriously impair their better judgments.

It's a pretty well accepted but not often discussed fact that ladies nights are, in reality, men's nights. It’s men who pack the clubs on these nights and stand around diffidently nursing their beers or engaging in ludicrously age inappropriate displays of disco dancing. It’s men who are the target customers of the five-star hotels in which these bars are located. The assembled night time butterflies who pack these places would certainly not be impressed if they really were ladies only nights. They are here for the men of course, it matters not a jot to them that the drinks are half price as they will not be the ones paying for them..... Men again, that's right, you're catching on. It doesn't even matter to them that its ladies' night at all as most of them can be found in these bars 7 nights a week anyway.

So Wednesday and Thursday nights and are when the men come out to worship at the short skirted temple of Long Island Iced Tea. They head for these bars in search of a reviving tonic to combat that midweek slump and if that tonic should have gin in it, well so much the better. It's always amused and baffled me that Jakarta's sleaziest pickup joints are located in the city's poshest hotels. Maybe this says a lot about Indonesian culture, I don't know. All I know is that I love the sight of over made up girls tottering into five-star hotel lobbies at kicking out time, ripped to the breasts on alcohol with a sheepish Westerner in tow. The looks on some of the fastidious hotel guests' faces are priceless. They are clearly not impressed with this gentrification of the world's oldest profession.

So where exactly are these midweek sin bins? Well the three biggies are as follows:

Down at CJs in the Hotel Mulia, Senayan, Wednesday's ladies' night will now set you back a hefty Rp.70,000 to get in if you opt for the cheapest draught beer. This is certainly something to consider before going there. Even a native Londoner or New Yorker may baulk at paying US $7 for a beer (especially if it tastes like Bintang does). A Wednesday night here could turn into a wallet stinger, especially if you hook up with a hopeful young lady with a thirst for Singapore Slings and Illusions. The bill won't be an illusion I can assure you; in CJ's it's often a rude awakening equivalent to a cold, dead hand clutching your bowel.

So what else does the CJ's ladies’ night have in store for the budding Jakarta socialite? Not much if you're just a neutral observer as opposed to an active participant in the sleaze mêlée. The band are so pumped up with posturing machismo they look as if they’re about to drown in their own love juice and the place isn’t very well laid out. However, even the guys who pack CJ's for purely ornithological purposes might find the ladies a trifle hard-nosed here and not at all as genuinely friendly as they are in cheaper bars around town. They have the same dollar signs in the eyes as the CJ's staff themselves as they chalk up another quadruple whisky cola and draught beer onto your slate. Don't say you haven't been warned.
Stats: Preferred mode of transport - Silverbird Taxi
Average ladies monthly boarding house rent - Rp.800,000
Amount drunk by said ladies every night - Rp.950,000
Average number of drinks spilled on way to toilets - 2.4

BATS in the Shangri-La Hotel (Thursday nights), is certainly one of the most time honored hotel bars around town. It's been temporary home to many a businessman who just happened to stumble into the place before retiring upstairs to his room for a horizontal nightcap. It costs Rp.70,000 to get in these days and is quite a spacious place. The beers come in lofty, elongated glasses, which look good but are quite impractical if your judgment has already been impaired by an early evening booze infusion. Certainly I've managed to soak my face and upper torso before by tipping the glass at too-high an angle whilst trying to get the last bit of precious ale from the bottom. What else is on offer? Well there are an awful lot of hopeful women here virtually every night but especially on a Thursday. The lighting in BATS is brighter than in CJ's and other places though, and when this is combined with the rather faded and over made up visages of some of the regulars it’s resemblance to a meat market is more literal than metaphoric. This place will be around until the universe re-collapses back in on itself and all the girls' shiny metallic belts are ground to cosmic ashes.
Stats: Average number of make up applications per lady - 17.2
Optimum beer tilt angle - 0.00001 degrees to the horizontal
Average wait for taxi in lobby at kicking out time - 50 bleeding minutes
Data transfer via SMS over patrons’ mobile phones - 2500 Gigabits per min

Tiga Puluh in the Meridien Hotel (Thursday nights) offers another symbiosis of smart and sleaze. Yet another verification of the “Fancy hotel plus attached disco equals high-class knocking shop” equation. The top 40 band is dominant here, visually as well as aurally. Many other bars in town feature overly histrionic covers bands pumping up the decibels but in Tiga Puluh, the musicians also assault your visual cortex as the group are positioned slap bang in the middle of the place. This nonsense is a further exacerbated by the fact that they perform on a stage that puts their crotches on a level with the audience's line of vision. Perfect for ladies’ night. It’s all very loud and caveman tactics are perhaps what are required in here.
Stats: PA system power - Equivalent to 10 Hiroshimas
Probability of seeing a girl dancing on the bar in her bra on any given night - 1:2
Long Island Iced Tea strength - Equivalent to 10 Hiroshimas
Acreage of thigh visible - Five hectares
Simon Pitchforth