Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A city we learn to love but never to like

A perfect description about Jakarta. Two thumbs up for Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, The Jakarta Post. (The Jakarta Post, June, 22nd 2007)


Lipstick, stilettos, cheap makeup and condoms. These women that walk the night are distinctly familiar yet impossible to remember, and no matter the variety of euphemistic names they go by, at a base level they all mean "whore".

If Jakarta were a person, she'd be a whore. Fornicating with power and money, feigning ecstasy. All the world's pleasures accessible at a price.

The city residents love to hate is one of contradictions. A place where beer flows more freely from taps than running water and malls stand as plateaus of gluttony amid the conscripts of poverty.

Falsehood has a perennial spring in a city where life is blunt and brutish. A place where even humanity has a price.

Shelters for the homeless are too few to mention. But love motels sit strategically in all five municipalities -- inconspicuous in their presence, conspicuous in their activities.

Jakarta's callous monotony can also be a living prison. Scores are trapped in congestion while slums incarcerate a million sadnesses.

Most everyone is caught in the interminable daily chase for wealth, property and the pursuit of leisure time.

Those who can enclose themselves in housing enclaves to keep the din of the metropolis at bay. Hence Jakarta's two faces: the modern city and the kampung.

Unlike Lady Liberty half a world away, the mistress of Jakarta makes no pledge to shelter "your tired, your poor... your huddled masses yearning to breath free".

Yet come they will.

Though used and abused, she is still pursued. She holds the promise of pleasure. The power to make impossible dreams come true. A promise luring thousands to her bosom every year.

The city's glitz shines bright from yonder. But the magnate resonates from predominance as the nation's financial and business hub. Though it represents just 0.03 percent of the country's territory, its activities account for 17 percent of national GDP.

Friends abroad email of a beautiful summer's day in Cambridge. Another recounts a walk in New York's Central Park. A Delhi resident boasts the expedience of its Metro.

We in Jakarta can gloat over little other than the availability of kretek and Teh Botol at every corner tuck shop.

Still we are here, calling her home. Our mother, drunk or sober.

What cannot be conveyed in any postcard or email is the city's slowly beguiling character, which sways even the sternest disposition.

Jakarta is not captivating all at once. Her subtle charm, like the smog, abounds, enveloping everything.

It is not a place to like. One has to "learn" to love the city over time with all its idiosyncrasies or hate it completely.

Not surprisingly, Jakarta's nickname is the Big Durian. The foul-smelling fruit that those who love it can never forget, but those who do not will always regret.

For the housewife it is the luxury of everything imaginable at the doorstep, from morning groceries to roving tailors on converted three-wheeled sowing machines.

Professionals have range of choice in work and hobbies thrive.

Children are perhaps the orphans of the city. With few parks and playgrounds, those who can afford it place their kids at artificial play areas in icy-cold shopping malls.

Jakarta is a place where the good, the bad and the unthinkable have equal favor. A society constantly living on a guilt edge forcing the best and (worst) of creativity to rise.

Leave her for a few days and an unconscious longing creeps in as we covet the luxuries found nowhere else: The fried gorengan chock full of cholesterol; the street vendors who sell everything from magazines to souvenirs; the umbrella kids on a rainy day; the Pak Ogah U-turn boys who are a Godsend when we need them and a frustrating hindrance when we don't; The huge range of high-end to dead-end goods to suit every pocket's need.

Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo perhaps said it best: "This city is a giant living laboratory".

But this is nothing new. Half a millennium ago, when the genesis of Batavia was emerging, the harbor borough had always been a repository for different cultures.

However Jakarta is no melting pot. Instead it celebrates idiosyncrasy providing a place not only in which to survive, but thrive.

The young mohawked punks, the elderly in their kebaya, the satin-tied executive and waria trannies all have their place. A microcosm of Indonesia's beautiful diversity.

No single ethnic or religious group has ever dominated, not even the so-called indigenous Betawi.

This is why we love Jakarta. The freedom to be all that one can be or even don't want to be.
It is custom in Betawi culture to present a cake in the shape of two crocodiles during weddings. Legend has it that crocodiles only take one mate for a lifetime. Like Jakarta, once you learn to love her it will be a life of unending lust.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dr Cox said,..

Scrubs (TV):

“Couples that are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else, but the big difference is that they don’t let it take them down. One of those two people will stand up and fight for that relationship every single time.”

This quote has really struck me.
I was speechless for a moment.

I would never expect that anyone would have similar understanding about relationship, but, Dr. Cox, he has made a very good point about it (although, it is very unusual for Dr. Cox to state something like this).

One thing that makes me stay in this one relationship for these last seven years is that one of us has always stood up and fought for our relationship. One day, he stood up and f0ught, while I was blown away by the problems. Another time, I did my best to stand up and fight, while he mourned.

We are going through this relationship hand-in-hand. We help each other.

So fellas, this is our recipe of a relationship that lasts forever (hopefully).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Malam Amal - Untukmu Anak-anak Indonesia

700 ribu anak Indonesia tingkat Sekolah Dasar putus sekolah,..

Ikatan Keluarga dan Alumni Nederland (IKANED) Surabaya menggelar Gezellig Avond bertajuk “Voor Kinderen” (Untukmu Anak-anak Indonesia)

Hari: Sabtu
Tanggal: 25 Agustus 2007
Tempat: Redwoods Restaurant Lt. 2
Jalan Raya Gubeng No. 33, Surabaya
Waktu: 18:00 – 21:00

Akan hadir sejumlah penyanyi dari berbagai komunitas di Surabaya yang akan membawakan berbagai jenis aliran musik, dari mulai oldies, jazz, dan pop.

Bintang Tamu: Medical Mystery Band (Dr. Mik and the Gang)

Untuk informasi dan reservasi hubungi Nia (

Setiap kontribusi Anda adalah bentuk partisipasi dalam pembayaran uang sekolah satu siswa Sekolah Dasar selama satu bulan.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


What would you do if you knew that you and he would be separated at some points and you didn't have a clue what is going to happen next?

Will you stay or will you not?

Ah, money,...