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Jakarta and Social Reality

Illustration, source: Onthel Melintas Zaman

Around 4.45 am, the train I rode entered Jakarta area. It entered Bekasi train station and halted there for a couple of minutes. I knew then that I was about to enter Jakarta as I could see glamorous lights of the skyscrapers on the right contrasted to the darkness of the dawn. Soon enough, people swarmed and entered the train. They were not official Indonesian National Train Company (PT Kereta Api Indonesia, KAI henceforth) workers. They were beggars!

It was 4.45 and there were beggars in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, a supposed to be a rich country. It was ironic since these people did not look like beggars. They wore proper t-shirt and had tidy hair style. Yet, they begged for small amount of money from others.

Source: pencangkul on the blog
Then, a girl came spraying air freshener. I thought she did it voluntarily but I instantly knew that it was a silly thought. “Nothing is free”, so I thought. After spraying the air freshener to the entire coach, she asked for some money. I gave her some as I thought what she did was quite useful. It brought fresh air in the midst of stinky air emanating from surrounding area where the train run.

Then, a boy in black t-shirt came inside the coach. He brought along a broom stick sweeping the coach’s floor from any kind of dirt, from newspaper to plastics. But, again, he was not an “official” cleaning service of the PT KAI. He was just another low class people trying to get some money by cleaning the coach. As I thought he was useful in making the coach clean, I also gave him some money.

As the train entered Jatinegara, more people came in the coach. They worked as porter. However, they wore official shirts from PT KAI indicating them as official porter of the train station.

Note that it all happened before the sun rose! It was still about 5 in the morning. It all happened in Jakarta. Before the sun rose, these people already started their struggles to survive in Jakarta. They struggled for some money to feed their families, or even, themselves.

Illustration, source:
Jakarta is probably comparable to New York City as they were both in often times called as city of the dreams. “Your dreams can come true if you go to Jakarta”. But that dreams are often countered with social reality that I narrated above. It was splendid to see people making their dreams come true in some popular reality shows in television. But it was just television show, something that is made up! Dreams do not come true that easily!

The people that I told you probably had their own dreams. But currently, they had to push aside their dreams as they did not have enough capability to achieve their dreams. They were then forced to live in the harshness of social reality. But I believe these people still keep their dreams. I believe that someday their dreams can come true, if they really want to run for it.

This is a glimpse of my traveling experience. More to come J


  1. i think it's an introduction of the first chapter of post-graduation life. more stories will come up next..

    hmm.. i always think that Jakarta is an arrogant city. and i can feel it too on your post. poor people everywhere, while on the other side the rich and politician sometimes just don't care.

    well, gud luck for your life Riz.. :)

  2. Hehe yeah ... post-graduation life (not postrock or even postmodernism loh yaaa hehehe =P)

    It's arrogant in one point of view... but not in the other side (i will post something about this next time hehehe)


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