Rich is an Opinion, Poor is a Fact

People

Why can’t everybody be rich?

I went to a mall today for grocery shopping and dinner with a friend. Unlike the usual, I spent “only” IDR 65,000 (around USD 6) for an okay meal and a glass of chocolate milk [for your information, I’m a typical middle class Jakartan who never cease to try having good food without being robbed by restaurant business. I’m not poor and I live relatively well — despite the obsession of living humbly and economically]. I need to mention that because what I’m about to say is quite subjective and presumable.

It began with an incident of bumping into one garbage boy on my way out. We looked at each other for a couple of seconds. All of a sudden a flash of images spattered, his story’s flowing through my mind…

He was a high school graduate, just recently worked in that mall for less than 60 days. Being a garbage boy was not his ultimate idea but that’s all he could get for now. He came from a small village in Demak where his parents live. He was single with no potential girlfriend. And he was tired. He was tired of working until late even on Sunday and most of his paycheck was spent for renting a simple 3×2 m2 room, three meals, and fuel for his late 80s scooter. He never smoke unless someone gave him. He was sad he couldn’t spare some money for his parents. He was unhappy and he was envious seeing me with a big shopping bag of a week supplies.

I felt a slight anger in me: why can’t everybody be well-off? I’m not an economist who would answer this question thoughtfully and wisely. In fact, I don’t necessarily demand an answer either. It was just a protest to the universe. And by the way, are there any poor economists?

So I went home with this troubled feeling. I relaxed on my couch reading some news. Guess what the first one I read: a old homeless guy, who’s picking up garbage for a living, found dead in one traditional market after 20 years of loneliness (or solitude?).

This is a mad world.

Jakarta: The Metropolitan City of Indonesia

I was a bit surprised when a friend asked me: “Do you think you can live in Bangkok? It is such a big city and dangerous for a girl to be alone, isn’t it?” My jaw dropped and at that very moment I promised myself to post something about my beloved capital city of Indonesia :-).

Here it is.

Bundaran HI. My office is 10-minutes walking from there 🙂

First of all, Jakarta is the second biggest city in Asia (according to Wikipedia). There are many statistics showing Jakarta position among others cities. These statistics use several parameters such as area, population, density, and officials. Mostly, population is the main parameter to award a city as metropolitan. But, in order to exaggerate this posting, of course I pick the best statistics for Jakarta :). Nevertheless, Bangkok position is always below Jakarta.

I realize that international society sees Indonesia as a third world country; therefore, development is fairly poor. Well, it is not. The city of Jakarta is so bright and lively. So please… don’t imagine us living in such a jungle here in Indonesia. I also realize that news about Bali bombings, tsunami, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, terrorist attacks and all have created bad impressions about Indonesia. Well, it is not that bad. We live peacefully here. Conflicts do happen here and there, but somehow we manage to lessen the tension.

Now, let’s talk the bright side of Jakarta, started by the mall. Yeah, baby! Mall!

Mall or Shopping Center

Taman Anggrek Mall. One of my favorites.

Jakarta is a heaven of malls or shopping centers. You will find them all across the city; from the north to the south, from the west to the east. Almost all these malls have movie theaters. Cinema 21 is the most famous and bonafide cinema network in Indonesia. Besides, several malls are connected to apartments or luxurious residences. But well, to save space, I will give you another wikipedia links to refer you to the list of malls in Jakarta. You can click here or here. Btw, my favorites are Taman Anggrek Mall and Grand Indonesia.

Boulevard

We have Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Jalan Rasuna Said, and Jalan M.H. Thamrin which are famous as the center of business. I guess pictures will show better. 

Jalan Jenderal Sudirman. I live 15-minutes walking from that white building on the left :).

 

Five-star Hotel

Yes, Jakarta does have plenty of choices to stay; from the cheap and poor ones to the most luxurious ones. Interestingly, compared to European hotels, the five-star hotels in Jakarta are relatively inexpensive. You surely can find Grand Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, InterContinental, Four Seasons, JW Marriott, Shangri-La, Sheraton, Le Meridien here.

Old Town

We were colonized by the Dutch for hundreds of years. This old town is one of archaeological remains which is kept by the government as historical site. Now and then we can see a bunch of history lovers wearing some Dutch outfit and riding old-fashioned bicycle (= sepeda onthel). I was one of them (without “Dutchy” accessories though). 

 

Old Town Area with sepeda onthel and guys in old-army outfits

 

Culinary Paradise

Oh dear, I don’t know how to explain or to list all beautiful places serving great food. Too many to mention. Besides, I must admit that the best place to eat is not at those fancy restaurants, but at the streets food stall :). You basically can find all kind of food in Jakarta. American, Mexican, European, Turkish, African, Chinese (hehe), Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and the famous Indonesian food from Padang, Sunda, Jawa, Madura, Tegal, uh oh… let’s stop it. I will need separate post to talk about the food only :).

Stage

Jakarta also has plenty halls to perform music concert or other entertainment shows. The famous ones are: Balai Sarbini, Plennary Hall of Jakarta Convention Center, Big Theater Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Park Ballroom, Balai Kartini, and Ritz Carlton Pacific Place Ballroom.

Balai Sarbini (inside and out)


Downsides

To balance this article, I must remind you that Jakarta is sometimes cruel too. We have extremely serious problem with traffic jam. It is predicted that in 2020 we will face gridlock. Gridlock is the situation where vehicles stuck in certain node and can’t move further. The government now is still trying to solve this problem by constructing flyovers in several main streets and MRT which will be completed by 2016.

Beggars, homeless people, pickpocket, pollution, garbage, flood, muggers, poor public facilities and services are other issues need to be resolved. In my defense, Jakarta is part of a developing country anyway, hehe…

Um, I guess I have given sufficient justification that Jakarta is indeed big and dangerous (and let me emphasize: bigger and more dangerous than Bangkok :D). Nothing else I would say but: enjoy Jakarta!