Cigars in Jakarta

The motorcycle would barely fit down the tiny alley. I had taken a short cut through the kampongs to avoid the horrendous traffic jam on the main road and had little choice but to try and find my way out of the maze I found myself in.

It was so narrow in places it was like riding on a tightrope; open sewers either side of me, their stagnant waters a murky white color. The chemical concoction smelling like the cross between a fart and soap powder: people had obviously been doing their early morning washing!

A few hours later and I’m still surrounded by water. But the situation has improved markedly. I’ve escaped the kampung catacombs and am now in Kemang, a posh residential area in South Jakarta. The water I’m looking at now is a lot clearer. And so it should be. It’s in one of those luxurious Infinity swimming pools.

The wine is red and a huge cigar box is opened. I take one of the chunkiest cigars I have ever seen, and snip off the end. The taste is exquisite. Rich and earthy. Not in the slightest acidic or bitter and like only the finest Cuban cigars, there is no taste of smoke whatsoever.

But then again, at Rp400,000 a pop you wouldn’t expect anything less.

Besides the taste of course, you can also tell the quality of a cigar from its ash. The whiter the better; an indication of the amount of impurities in it. I look at the ash forming at the end of my cigar: white as photocopying paper.

And as I lie back and watch the pool water ripple in the wind I think about what a load of tosh politics really is.

I mean these cigars are the best-known product of one of the world’s last remaining communist countries. And they are being smoked by capitalists the world over!

I wonder what Castro makes of that.

Perhaps I should join in the Americans’ embargo on Cuba, and find some other cigars to smoke.

On second thoughts, maybe not.

I mean have you ever tasted Indonesia’s Ramayana cigars?!!!


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