August 17 is Independence Day, so there are red-and-white Long Live Republic of Indonesia! banners everywhere. I went down to the soccer field on our street to watch the little kids' games, such as the time-honored "trying to eat a big cracker on a string without using your hands" race.
I started chatting with a guy in his 20s who turned out to be waiting for his visa so he can go work in Kuwait. The government is putting on a big push to help people get jobs abroad, because of the unemployment here. People can make a lot more money as domestic workers in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia or the Middle East, although sometimes they get treated pretty badly. I hope this guy is lucky and lands a good job - he seemed very sweet.
Other than this little gathering, it's been a strangely quiet day. I was expecting round-the-clock sonic bombardment in honor of the holiday. I still cherish the hope that the passing of Independence Day will mean an end to the Saturday 7 a.m. children's marching band practices across the street from our apartment. For little kids, they actually play very well. But man, it's a rough way to start the weekend.