Tuesday, May 10, 2005

a trip to jakarta (part 2)

Jakarta was a city of 20 million people – that almost equal the whole of Malaysia’s population. And in the twenty odd millions Malaysians were a few millions Indonesians, - Malaysianised, ‘resident’ised, legal, illegal or otherwise.

From the tinted windscreen of the supir-driven mobil, it was easy to see the economic gap between the rich and the poor. In the air-conditioned walkways of Sogo at Plaza Indonesia, the men were well dressed and every girl looks like a model. On the street a little farther from the Central Business District, at the junctions or at railroad crossings, little kids loiter among the waiting cars, selling something, begging. This I realized was the reality of life. The rich and the poor somehow coexist in balance. Only they don’t always appear together. I saw in Indonesia something very much like in Malaysia. There were the semblance of Petaling Street, Kampung Baru and Kampung Abdullah Hukum; but in Jakarta, they don’t put up a colourful billboard to hoard reality. To do so would mean a massive investment.

An Indonesian friend told me a joke about the rich of Jakarta.

When the poor met one another they asked ‘Hari ini kita makan apa?’ (What do we eat today?)

When the middle class met one another they asked ‘Hari ini kita makan di mana?’ (Where do we eat today?)

When the rich met one another they asked ‘Hari ini kita makan siapa?’ (Who do we eat today?)

It was (I think) a ‘politically’ bad, bad joke. For us Malaysian it was a ‘bisa’ – of the ‘poisonous’ kind. Make a joke like that on the internet and it might be debated in the parliament. My blog could be threatened with some Akta Multimedia. To the Jakartan it was also a ‘bisa’ – of the ‘normal/usual/acceptable’ kind. They could laugh easily at it and at themselves. It was in their world, something they dismissed as ‘gampang aja!’

Gampang? Watch it, don’t say it to anyone around here or you might just end up with a black-eye.

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