July 17, 2009

We Are Safe

Today at around 8:00AM two bombs went off in Kuningan area of South Jakarta. The homemade bombs were on the basement car park of the Marriot and a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton. At least nine people are dead so far including a suicide bomber. No one claimed the responsibility but BBC is suspecting its the work of extremist organization Jemaah Islamia. An unexploded bomb and other explosives material were found in room 1808. Another bomb went off at a toll road in north Jakarta.

We are also residing in Southern Jakarta but about 20 minutes away from the Marriot. I heard about it in the morning when somebody called us to inform. I switched on the TV but could not make out anything as all the channels are only broadcasting in the local languages. There were some footages which showed the grim situation.

We went out later to a shopping mall near Kuningan and saw the road leading to the Marriot well cordoned off. However the situation seems to be normal in town now.

Budy is a nice young man from Jakarta, who has been our guide. I rode his bike numerous times to go to nearby shopping malls and grocery stores. When I asked him about the blast he shrugged and said this is typical Jakarta; every year there are one or two sporadic incidents. I asked - Al Qaeda? He said - Don't know, may be Nurudin, from Malaysia. Well I don't know who that is.

I bought a pre-paid mobile SIM (which is very cheap and available everywhere) but it is costing much to log on to internet. I mean checking emails via mobile is affordable. But the moment I use it as a modem to log on to internet from my laptop, it eats up the credit a lot, about a dollar every 10 minutes (without downloading any video). In internet Cafe you can browse for three hours with one dollar. I tried to get an unlimited package (30 dollars a month) but was told that I have to buy a post-paid SIM for that. And they handed me a list of requirements (guarantees, stay permits/ID etc) which will take at least one month of bureaucracy. I will try to convince someone local to help me out on this. Even in Bangladesh I could get the unlimited internet package with pre-paid connection -no document was required. And the price was something like 12-15 dollars a month.

Thanks to those who inquired about my safety via email and Facebook.


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