Poverty in Jakarta

All Apologies

What else should I be?
All apologies
What else should I say?
Everyone is gay
What else could I write?
I don’t have the right
What else should I be?
All apologies

> Kurt Cobain

Thanks to the Jakarta administration’s road narrowing policy I can’t drive a normal route to the office anymore. So I make use of the Jalan Tikus, or narrow side streets. And there are plenty of them too. because away from the main roads in Jakarta, a labyrinth of narrow twisting alleys seems to cover the entire city. I even got lost a few weeks ago when I took a short cut going through the Petamburan slums in Central Jakarta, and more than a little concerned when the alley narrowed to such an extent that I could hardly get the roaring beast through it. The locals found it highly amusing to see a bule in such a place of course, but I didn’t particularly want to hang around: this area is home territory to the radical knuckleheads and a lecture on why sex bombs are worse than Bali bombs was the last thing that I wanted.

Anyway, coming to the office this morning, it’s very congested close to a traditional market and I notice a little outside stall is doing a roaring trade selling items of clothing. Two pieces for Rp15,000. Bloody hell. That’s like less than a quid. It’s almost inconceivable to me how these poor people keep going. Just to eat a daily struggle. Forget the Starbucks, holidays to Bali, IPODs, JW Black Label, Digital SLRs, etc. I’m not going to moralize here – not my style – but I wouldn’t say it was going too far to say that the poor aren't getting their fair share. Oh hum...

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