Three weeks now since my arrival in Jakarta! The shockwave of being transplanted has passed, and I am starting to grow new little roots.
Here are some of the topics that have kept me busy:
In the past, whenever I visited Jakarta I always had a place to go to, either my mom’s house or my sister’s. Now that both of them no longer live here, I have to establish my own homebase. Which is easier said then done. None of my friends are currently looking for a shared-house situation, and none of them had a spare room to rent out. Just bad luck.
Apartments, as it turns out, are pretty expensive. Everything is expensive after living in Berlin. Of course there are many people here who earn MUCH less than I do. And how do they get by? Surely there must be an affordable lifestyle? Yea there is. But this involves staying in the house of your family, having a two hour commute to work – one way – and not being able to participate in much of what the city has to offer. Being poor here is damn tough. And if you want to keep up a lifestyle of barhopping, visiting friends in other neighborhoods on a regular basis, living close to work and eating well, this is costly.
Back to the apartment search. In the end, I found a little place, not much more than 30m2, in an apartment complex. I will pay more rent than for my 135m2 (shared) flat in Berlin. But I will have the luxury of having access to a large pool area, sauna, tennis courts and gym and a marble lobby with 24hr security. That’s the thing. Glamorous or poor (the real poor, not the Berlin coquettish kind of poor) The in-between is there, but hard to find.
Work has been a wild ride, so far! Goethe-Instiut Indonesia is buzzing with action. There’s exhibitions, concerts, movie screenings and other events going on several times a week. Add a number of web-products such as a jazz community, a comic platform, the house-own facebook page and web pages into the equation, some of them requiring coordination with other countries in the region, and you can tell I will be very busy. As “PR coordinator” my job is to help the team to make what’s going on at the GI visible and tangible, with a special focus on strengthening that part of PR which is interactive, networked, and community-driven.
I will dedicate separate posts to what I experience and learn at my workplace. For now, all I can say is: truly awesome colleagues, exiting topics and a huge challenge ahead.
The fun part about moving is being exposed to different set of news and discourses. This is a rough rundown of some of the headlines and quirky news items that have been floating around as sort of ambient information:
Traffic, traffic, traffic. Jakartans talk about traffic like others about the weather. The hopeless congestions have made life in the capital extremely stressful. There´s a mayorship election coming up, and for sure a new mayor will have to address this. Newspapers are dedicating whole series to the subject of (failed) transportation- and city-planning.
Related to that has been a news item of viral qualities: Minister for “State-Owned Enterprises” Dahlan, angered by the fact that he was waiting in a long queue to enter the toll road, while only two of the toll booths were operational, got out of his car and ushered cars through the gates – without paying – himself.
And I don’s know it it’s just coincidence, I find the news strangely gruesome here. For instance the case of 3 Indonesian workers killed in Malaysia. Apparently they were shot by Malaysian police for unclear reasons, trespassing of some sort. As if that’s not enough, it was suggested that the bodies may have had organs removed, implying that this may have been a case of intentional murder for organs. I haven’t really followed up on this story and have not yet heard a conclusion or fact clearance. The whole story was all speculation and hair-raising quasi-facts.
Another crazy random news item was that a Dutch man set himself on fire in front of the Dutch Embassy in Jakarta. Another minister (or rather the deputy-minster for energy natural resources) died mysteriously on a trekking tour. There has been a series of deadly shoot-outs in Bandung (the city my mom lives in). Two Russian men (one of them a yoga teacher in Bali) were caught at the airport with a couple of dozen capsules with hash (!) in their stomachs.
On a more serious note: the book presentation by a canadian author, invited to talk about her book on (liberal) Islam at cultural centre Salihara, was stopped by the police because a protesting mob was getting out of control. The main cause of protest was the fact that the author is a lesbian. Ugh. Shouldn’t the police have protected her rather than stopping the event?
And, of course, there was the Sukhoi place crash. This has pretty much dominated all TV channels the past days.
Events and People
In my spare time, between work and apartment search, there’s even been time to check out a few things. I was at the small gallery of panna foto for a talk about photography and social media. I went to watch a special avengers screening organized by the Indonesian Marvel community. Full costume!
I went to the Jakarta edition of Pecha Kucha (which still lives on after I introduced it here in 2008!!). There I encountered Jakarta’s graffiti and street art hero Darbotz, was introduced to the Indonesian Spreadshirt and learned that there will soon be an Indonesian kickstarter. And so many more cool initiatives.
To my (and my spine’s) relief, there’s a pretty good yoga studio not far from my office with classes after work hours almost every day. So even that’s taken care of. I have managed to to 1-2 times a week.
And of course I went to some parties and bars, locations and friends I already know well from previous visits. All in all, 3 exciting and action packed weeks.