Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Real Reality

I've decided that people who spend too long in Jakarta lose a sense for what reality is.  This may extrapolate out to Indonesia and even Southeast Asia on the whole but I'll keep my assumptions closer to the point.
Jakarta is a city where so many can do so much with so little while few waste much more to accomplish very little.  Here's a clarifying example.  I've seen houses built of little more than cement bricks, cement and corrugated tin.  Restaurants can be made entirely of bamboo with a thatched roof. They are often constructed in a matter of days and provide sufficient structure for their purpose.  On the other hand, the relatively few politicians and wealthy business owners are able to siphon off money from public works projects, from donations, from their companies to the disadvantage of everyone else.  Jakarta was supposed to get a monorail system years ago but the funding, which had come from foreign government investments, disappeared.  This year there was talk of trying it again, with money from Japan and now that's gone as well.  I wouldn't claim that similar scenarios aren't playing out worldwide, but I have a hard time seeing it on such a stratified, rampant level. An unfortunate reality.
For the rich and powerful in Jakarta it is.

The amount of buying one can do here is in the upper levels of ludicrous. By Indonesian standards my wage is very good.  Compared to other foreigners, my salary is pretty low  (middlin for teachers but teachers are much lower than the oil and gas group, the financial clan or any business men). That being said, I rarely have a budget. I pay an ojek driver for daily rides, I take more taxi rides in a week than I've taken in my lifetime in the US and I have a maid. I go out to eat and drink with my friends without a second thought.  I don't buy many things, but lots of groceries. Salon trips happen at least twice a month most of the time. I travel a lot.  The "quality of life" as its often termed here is high. There are lots of things I'd like to do that I can't from here, but there is very little here I can't do. I can buy or do nearly anything.  In the US and Spain I had to watch my pennies so to speak.  I wouldn't splurge $25 for a pedicure in Seattle, but here when it costs $4-8 I can't see a reason not to. Definitely unreality.

Other than putting up with lots of irritations, life here is pretty easy.  You can pay people to take care of almost anything for you. Every business is over staffed, though the service isn't usually great. The traffic is enough to make you lose your mind.  Sitting two hours in a car to go 30 km is mind-melting. The monotony of the weather is a bore for me, and the torrential afternoon rains that will be starting soon are a huge inconvenience.

Bule (foreign, especially white) men can get women half their age and hotter than anyone they'd get at home simply because they are white. Old, fat, hairy, lazy, grumpy, ugly men routinely being chase by young, fit, good looking Indonesian girls. Girls who bend over backwards and put up with lots of shit because these guys buy them things and might provide an better life. If this is reality, I'll tune out.
He might look something like this, but about possibly older

and he'll be dating someone like this.
My wager is that anyone who stays here very long starts to think that all of this, all the insanity that is Jakarta, is normal.  It's not.  I haven't met another soul who things the way things carry on here are in any way similar to back home - wherever home might be! Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand, continental Europe and the UK.   To those who like/love it here and have been here X years (any number of 2 will suffice), whoopie for you.  Don't not believe for a second that just because you like the inane behavior of the people here, both bule and Indonesian, you can suffer the choking exhaust fumes, you no longer are bothered by the traffic that you will EVER convince me that this is normal and acceptable.
The pollution makes for great swimming opportunities
Floods then move all the trash about.

An average day in traffic
Take a nice big bite when you leave the house.

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