Friday, October 23, 2009

Jakarta, we have been cruel to thee...

Living in Jakarta, is like having sex with someone so ugly yet so skillful in giving you the orgasm that gets you addicted. You can’t stand the face sometimes, but you can’t get enough of her touches, her kisses, even her foul smelling breath.

How many times have we been so schizophrenic about this city?. Let’s see. How many times have we cursed Jakarta’s polluted air?. Traffic jams, especially on Friday nights?. The piles of garbage?. The flooding sewers in the rainy seasons?.

At the same time, what praises we have also uttered. The lights are beautiful from so and so building!. XYZ restaurant is so marvelous!. ABC mall is exciting!. Blabla salon has skillful hairdressers!. Naninanina has gorgeous clothes!. Sale, sale!, let’s catch them before it’s over!. And so on, and so forth. At almost every corner of the city, you reach your orgasm, your ecstasy, your cloud 9, whatever it is.

Every now and then, there is always a new place to visit. “A creative lifestyle and entertainment” I read one ad on one of the crossing bridges at Jl. Rasuna Said. And there you see, the same brands of restaurants and what have you. In my eyes there is nothing creative at all in those names, but hey, this ugly bitch called Jakarta is skillful, remember?. You will walk in every single place feeling good that you have been there. Again, there you are. Reaching your ecstasy. You have seen, and also, been seen.

So I wonder sometimes, what are we complaining about, when we are complaining about this city?.

I have been living here my whole life. I have never known what it’s like living in others. Yes, two years in Melbourne but I would not call it ‘living’. I would call it ‘stopping by and trying to blend in’.

I have to admit that I, like many of you, have uttered the same curses to the same things that you have cursed. It is hard not to see the ugly face of Jakarta.

But, today, I laughed at myself. I laughed at those of us who still curse this city, while at the same time we ask it to continue servicing us. What horrible manners!.

I drove from Menteng to my house this afternoon. Passing through Jl. Rasuna Said just about the right time it was beginning to be packed with traffic. And oh how I laughed at us.

How could we curse the traffic when we could actually make a difference?. I looked at the bikers passing by. I admire them. Up till now it is still an idea in my head – to bike from house to office. It is not a long journey either!. And yet, so many reasons not to do it. What a shame!.

Or have we thought of car sharing with neighbours?, relatives?. I think even I have to think long and hard now.

As I played with that thought, two cars in front me, I saw someone throwing away his cigarette butt to the road. What?!. And we complain about the sewers getting stuck?. Yes of course we all know those sewers and drainage systems have crooked constructions, but, what have we done to make sure they are not getting more crooked?. Don’t people know that for every single garbage they throw out of the window, it contributes to the pile of garbage in the sewers and drainage systems?. Not to mention how it then pollutes our already polluted beaches?.

It is sad to see that many citizens of Jakarta actually treat their own place of living as a garbage bin. Don’t they know that it is like saying they live IN a garbage bin?. Yuck. Forget about blaming the government for it, not everyone has to clean up after us.

As I got stuck in the middle of traffic, I looked at the office buildings. Hey, you guys, who complained about PLN (our beloved electric company), have you ever thought of switching off the lights in the office as you walk out of its door?. Yes, PLN has its fault. But, we contribute to that, too, ladies and gentlemen. Have we been responsible in using up energy?. Looks like, we have not, by the looks of how many floors with lamps on in the buildings, whenever I happen to pass Jl. Rasuna Said at 10 or 11pm.

I pity Jakarta. This city is tired. Of being exploited because it is so good in making us feeling good about ourselves. Of being cursed yet at the same time never been given a chance to ask for help from any of us. Nor have we ever cared enough to lend a hand to this tired ugly bitch.

In fact, she is not ugly at all. It has its charms, so let’s stop calling it ugly (I should stop calling it ugly….and should some people who I know have called it ugly). What are we without Jakarta?. Jobless, really. Unless you can create opportunities somewhere else, shut up. As long as we still hang on to the body of this tired old lady, why don’t we just be kind to her?. Before we curse on anything about this city, let’s stop and ask ourselves, what have we done to help it.

And hey, many of you have mistress. You call it Bandung, Yogya, Makassar, you name it. Our family calls it ‘The Cocoon’. Go to your mistress on the weekends, or whenever you want. And when you come back, stop complaining. And be kind to her.

Have a good weekend!.


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