Ramadan has begun and already things are getting weird. First, we are back to having periodic blackouts once again. The electric utility apparently is having problems with one of its power plants and can’t seem to figure out how to fix it. So they impose rolling blackouts on the island, which last from one to four hours each. There is no warning.
Second, the first three days (Tuesday-Thursday this week) of the month-long religious observance are very strict, particularly regarding alcohol sales – as in, they are banned. On Tuesday night, with little happening at Goodies, Jim and I ventured into the bar district, however, expecting that maybe a few of the bars would open after 9 p.m. But the entire district was dark, although I was told by one bar owner that the back doors of some bars are open. There were no customers roaming the streets, however, so we returned to Smiling Hill.
Wednesday night, everything went on as usual at Goodies. We try to keep a low profile during this period, with shades over the sides of the restaurant and the alcohol hidden away. We even suspended the live music for Ladies Night last night so as not to “thumb our noses” at the byzantine religious rules.
The Ladies Night crowd was a little lighter than normal, probably because of the rules, but we did have nine ladies for the 8-ball tournament. I had to do my normal duties of coordinating the tournament and taking photos, but I was somewhat distracted because I had a guest in attendance – Rere or just Re. I’ve known her for more than a year but this was the first chance we’ve had to be one-on-one.
Mery won the tournament but from my photos it looks like I was focused a lot on Lili. Wonder why.
Anyway, shortly after the tournament finished, as we were all sitting around chatting, Goodies was visited by about 15 uniformed Indonesians. They looked like police but they were with the tourism office. They arrived in a big black van, sort of like a SWAT vehicle, and a police car with blue lights ablaze. They all stood around looking at all the customers while Doug’s wife Yohana dealt with their complaints.
We ended up with a warning about selling alcohol. Yohana and Mawar (office manager) are going to Batam Centre this morning to iron out the problem and find out the rules going forward – such as can we give away free beer tonight as we always do for Friday’s happy hour, or do we have to wait until after 9 p.m. when alcohol sales are allowed. And can we have live music before 9 p.m. (The rules change after those first three days, although there are other days during Ramadan when everything is supposed to shut down again.)
All our customers were very calm through the raid, although alcohol sales did stop. Finally, Re had to leave, and as she did all the police filed into the van and left. Several of us stayed at Goodies until midnight, ordered drinks and relived an interesting evening.