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Soccer on Friday MALANG - Just back from a couple of days in Malang it's about time to turn on the computer again and to clean the keyboard. Since the short holiday to Bali I didn't see any chance to write something down, but that is going to change now. The few days in Malang were a pleasant difference with the somewhat more normal life in Yogyakarta. The garden has been watered and the windows are open, though there is not too much wind. Several days back, back to Friday to be more precise. Soccer club Arema (Malang) has to play a game that day.

While I spent my last few hours in Malang, I already bought a ticket for the Gajayana train leaving at 15:40, I noticed that there was a lot of blue in the streets. In the Netherlands that generally means that there is much police in the streets, but it's just the color blue, blue as in the Dutch flag, blue as a blue ballpoint. These were supporters of the Malang soccer club Arema. With dozens at a time they speeded over the roads on their blue motorbikes, wearing blue shirts, denim, shawls, hats and flags. Flags that have half their surface for Arema and the other half for a sponsor. The bright yellow colors of Extra Joss, a powder that produces a kind of Red Bull when mixed with water, causes a sharp contrast with the blue and white. Some Indonesian flats are remarkable as well.

These small groups soon became lost or late supporters. On our way to Candi Badut, nowadays located in the heart of a modern suburb or Malang, a big caravan of supporters rushed the other way, including cars and trucks. Even at the temple some supporters found a place to hide from the fun, because walking in the sun at this hour is only for the crazy, those who can't do anything else and me, because I wanted to make some pictures. Restauration to the only rebuilt temple was finished several years back, nicely finished. Remains of other buildings on this location were put together, probably waiting for more money. There was not a single person here to give me a ticket, so waiting for that money could be a long wait.

Going back to the city, we encountered much more supporters in blue, seemingly without a target, touring through the city, because the stadium was completely the other direction. It doesn't really matter as well, it's clearly a manifestation of a big group of supporters that the local club has. Thousands, probably tens of thousands of Malang people (and people nearby) feel connected to the club, of which the stadium - built during the Dutch colonial time - is being extended with a big tribune for the somewhat more rich fans, with roof and chairs.

The city hall of Malang in a green, almost colonial environment. Preparations for the celebration of Independence Day add extra color to the city.
The city hall of Malang in a green, almost colonial environment. Preparations for the celebration of Independence Day add extra color to the city.

A few moments later we parked the car that I was able to borrow for the few days that I was in malang - thanks for that - near the Balai Kota, the city hall, located in a beautiful geen and clean environment near one of the two train stations of Malang (Malang Kota Baru). Around the traffic circle with in the middle a monument, are a number of old trees that give an abundance of shadow and some cooler air at the hottest part of the day in the middle of a big city. Around the traffic circle there are a number of government buildings, most of them date back to the Dutch colonial time, including the city hall itself. Of course I would almost say.

The car was just parked when I heard noise approaching. At first glance I thought it was a light thunderstorm, but of course it was the sounds of hundreds of motorbikes approaching, with some of them giving some extra gas to announce their presence. Together with some cars, jeeps and trucks the caravan entered the traffic circle in front of the city hall. Horning and shouting they turned left again after a quarter of the circle to disappear in one of the wide lanes of the city center.

I walked around the monument over a small pavement when a big caravan of supporters approached. Of course I was just on the other side of the monument, so I could not see how big the group was. Also I didn't see where they were going. With a slight hurry I went to the place where most of the blue was going, in the direction of the city hall. Direct in front of the door the first motorbikes stopped, some horning loud, as if a coup d'etat was about to happen. A few guards were probably caught by surprise by the many supporters, since more guards approached from all directions.

I didn't have time to see what was happening, because the many supporters yelled at their hardest. At the moments I wanted to make a picture, it seemed that a craze broke out. Luckily it were just unarmed and harmless soccer fans, with a flag in one hand and in the other hand a cigarette, mobile phone or steer. Without hands was also possible for the time I wanted to make a picture. I wasn't the only one making pictures. Some members of the local press made their pictures for next days newspapers.

More people gathered in front of the city hall. This kind of actions would not be tolerated in the Netherlands because it's a given fact that things would be demolished. Nothing of that atmosphere here, it was one big unorganised festival. A few big cars, blinded windows, brightly colored LED-lights and an easy-to-remember licence plate, were ready to pick up some guests from the city hall. I didn't know if they were players of Arema, but since they weren't wearing blue, they had to be some bobo's of the club. I was too busy making pictures, no time for asking questions.

Supporters of the Malang soccer club Arema caused the city to look blue, but this also causes a big traffic jam throughout the center of the city.
Supporters of the Malang soccer club Arema caused the city to look blue, but this also causes a big traffic jam throughout the center of the city.

A while later a kind of start followed, which caused the entire mass to slowly move away from the city hall for yet another tour through the city. Over 1,000 people formed a caravan of several hundred meters long. No stopping for traffic lights, busy intersections, crossings or incoming traffic. Everything was completely ignored, typically for a crowd, I was thinking. On their own they will probably adhere to most of the rules, but when a group is big enough, they mess up completely. The streets around the caravan were completely flooded with traffic of all kinds, the alerted police could not do more than just blowing a whistle a little bit in the hope that other people didn't block the caravan, even better, move away for the blue crowd.

Friday afternoon

Amongst the blue mass I discovered some people on their way to the mosque, dressed in a somewhat more traditional set of clothes, including hat. Only at that moment I realised today was just a Friday like any other, the day on which millions of men head to the mosque in the afternoon for the Friday prayers, the most important of the weel. Strange to see one half of Malang being covered in blue, while mosques around the city start their call for prayer. Horning and yelling seems to die down a little, maybe out of respect for the religious people, but that just seemed so, they disappeared around a corner only to come back to make a last round over the traffic circle.

My short trip to Malang was over. Not too long after the mosques had ended their calls for prayer, and in the business of the daily life around the train station, I enjoyed my last iced tea in a warung built from iron, presswood and a thin roof - built on a location that once should have been a wide pavement. But that's history, old history for many people here. In the train, just before departure of the Gajayana train the driver and staff asked for the blessing of Allah. That the train arrives in safety and without delays. The delays aren't taken care of by Him, but the first is generally not a problem. Thanks for that.



Posted in Culture @ 13 August 2006 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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