Clowning around Jakarta

Dan and I have been going to various kampungs to do our show and workshop.  On occasion I go by myself.  Dan’s organization Hidung Merah Circus is growing a lot, so he has to do administrative work too.  I, on the other hand, can just get out there and play with the kids!

So on Monday, January 25, off I go to entertain poor kids in an afterschool program.  I’m not sure where exactly I went, don’t have all the details yet [tba].  It’s in a regular little house in a neighborhood in south Jakarta.  I improvise a little show playing a “cleaning woman” goofing around with a broom and duster and various other props.  Always a good gag.  Enter sweeping, don’t see audience, singing to myself sillily, take out my yellow feather duster and start dusting about, including myself (under arms, brushing teeth, whatnot) and then start dusting the director of the afterschool program — always good to goof around with the kids’ teacher or director, ha!  And then suddenly I realize what I’m doing and I see the audience and all the kids — aaaaahh!  Oh, hello!  Since I see I have an audience I better perform, so I sing into the duster as a mic, do a little Michael Jackson and moonwalk (MJ is huge over here!), and various other goofy antics.  It’s funny, I really don’t have to do much — when I arrive in beginning and I go to change in another room, I close the door and open it again to peek out, repeating this several times:  the kids erupt in giggles and guffaws.  Doesn’t take much sometimes!  ;o]  Well, I’m a funny-looking foreigner with crazy hair and big shoes, that’s enough to make ’em laugh!   Afterwards, I do a workshop and we play and have fun together.

Shacks and garbage
Shacks and garbage

On Tuesday, January 26, we go to Bintaro Lama kampung in southern Jakarta.  This is a poor garbage-picking community.  That is, they pick garbage for a living.  Their occupation is to collect garbage from around the area and process it.  Meaning it all ends up in a field behind their collection of shacks.  Some of it it does get recycled and reused.  Plastics may get passed on to someone who deals with recycling and reuse.  I am not quite clear yet on how it all works.  There is no official garbage pick-up that I know of in Jakarta.  But garbage does get picked up. At Dan’s house, he hangs a bag of garbage on the fence and by morning it’s mysteriously gone.  He pays someone a few dollars a month to take care of it.  Someone such as these garbage-pickers, presumably.  Sometimes, plastic containers and bags get cleaned and then used to create new items, such as purses, shopping bags, bathroom mats, etc., to then be sold for profit.  This, for example, is a project that’s been developed in Cilincing as an opportunity for the community to gain additional income (more on that later).

In the garbage field, a gaggle of geese pick about with their ducklings (or should that be gooslings?).  Cats and chickens wander everywhere, including in the middle of our show.  We had already gone there last week to do a show for the kids, and now are back to do a workshop.

As we drive up, a kid hanging by the road sees us and bursts out “Badut! Badut!!!”  (That is, clown, clown!)  He’s about to burst with excitement.  He and a few others run after our car as we drive further into the village.

I walk through the main path-way (can’t really call it a street) past houses, past people, past chickens and say hello as I go.  The kids see me coming and run up.  Time to play!  Even some adults join in and try to spin a plate or two.   I goof with the kids and we do a little clown parade through down the walkway through the village.  Again, when we’re done and leaving, they follow us and run behind our car, laughing and waving.  They’re so excited!  Great kids!

Photos courtesy Pak Maman
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