Jakarta: A Day, A Year, A Century
Exactly a year ago today I got a phone call and I said “yes” to moving halfway around the world to Indonesia. And what a year (well it will be in six weeks) it has been. It has included walks up in the old town of Jakarta, Kota Tua, and strolls near the Maritime Museum:
Every day here, even the monotonous ones, has been interesting. Every morning I jump onto and off of a moving bus on my way to and from work. And yesterday, well I hit dismiss instead of snooze, so I had to get to work fast. I got to work in 20 minutes flat by hoping on a motorcycle taxi and off we zoomed and weaved through the gridlock traffic in the pouring rain. I was quite the sight when I got to work. I now have a little less than two months left in my work contract, so I am trying to get out as much as I can in Jakarta.
One of the things I love best about Jakarta is how in a single day you can pass areas, meet people, and hear music that does not make it feel like 2012. A few months back, I ventured to North Jakarta with friends and we had lunch at the VOC Galangan, an old warehouse from the 17th century that has been restored, has a nice courtyard, and the best part: there are fluffy bunny rabbits that run around.
The way culture is intertwined with daily life, whether it’s wearing batik clothing or using traditional instruments in modern hip hop, make life here so fascinating. On Saturday night I went to see the Jogja Hip Hop Foundation play a concert and their mix of gamelan, rap, political commentary, and singing were the perfect example of the melding of these worlds. And if I needed further proof of all of this, many of the performers were wearing batik shirts and finished their looks off with Nikes. Looks pretty good.
I visited the Maritime Museum on my last trip North and I kept thinking to myself, “What did those Dutch men and women who came here in the 17th century think of it all?”
Well, they wanted to create a modern city with canals and a grid system. But things never go according to plan.
So instead we have the lovely, challenging, interesting mess that is Jakarta today. My friend Chloe recently shared a Tumblr account with me that is full of photos of Jakarta in the 1950s. I can’t get enough of them, click here, because it never hurts to look back.