I’m a nomad who has no permanent home. I’m a tourist in the place where my family lives, and I no longer holds any attachment to the country I was born in. It has been fourteen years since I left my birthplace but once in a while I read the news to keep myself updated, such as this short documentary from BBC.
Jakarta is akin to the US but squeezed a hundred times smaller in a city in terms of income inequality. On one hand there are the billionaires whose wealth could easily feed the entire nation, on the other you have the binmen who barely scrapes by. Despite that, there’s a burgeoning middle class who lives every bit of the leisure class lifestyle. Anyone who can afford a car never takes the public transport, while leisure times are spent in shopping malls that have been sprouting up at an alarming pace. But all that glittery fascade is always overshadowed by the chronic problem that is pollution. Every canals I passed by would be filled with rubbish of all sorts, recycling programs are non-existent in private households, noone really cares where their litter ends up as long as it’s out of their hands. Compounding to the problem is the increasing propensity to consume and indiscriminate shopping habits, whether in Gucci or local boutiques, as a sign of one’s wealth and status.
It doesn’t help that the federal and provincial government have more fundamental things to worry about such as the economy, and holding on to their political power. The wheels of change are turning but they are not keeping pace with the consumption levels of the city. I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel elsewhere, with hopes of one day giving back to the city where I spent half my childhood in some small way. But for the cleaners, sweepers and binmen of Jakarta who have almost no chance of escaping the hard lives, they deserve so much more respect than what they have been given.
P.S. Yes I do realise this post is such an irony in itself.