(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “Society

The paradox…

…of Jakarta is that there is incredible wealth and abject poverty.  There are designer clothing stores and a community of people who live in the garbage dump (one of many, I’m sure).  The difference, as I have been noting many differences between life here and “home” in North America, is that there is no way to escape the paradox of this city.

I was having this discussion with some of my colleagues (Chris, Glenn, Trent – I’m talking about you) and we talked about how easy it is, in the “developed world” to see poverty and those living in it, and then escape back to the suburb or neighborhood or gated community of your choice and forget what was just seen.  Here, in Jakarta, there is no escape.  The wealth lives next to the poverty.  The highly fortunate live behind a wall that is built against the open lot in which people barely subsist.  The Rolls Royce (and yes, there was one that passed me on my walk home from work last Thursday) drives right past the flower sellers and “Ayam Bakar” merchants.  They all live in the same place.

Purposeful ignorance is the only way to avoid seeing those who, by chance, were born into a life of poverty.  That’s the paradox of the city in which I live.

Do you remember how long your attention span was when you were little and cute?

In the midst of all the formality and ritual and ceremony, this little girl took time out to fiddle with her mom’s phone.  No one was paying attention to her and she seemed kind of bored with all the adult stuff going on around her.

After the wedding, my wife, who was sitting quite a distance away from me (ladies on one side of the temple, men on the other), pointed out that a good many of the ladies around her were busy on their phones and, “wasn’t that just a bit disrespectful?”

So, if my social understanding is correct, if I had been on my phone during the wedding I would have been thought rude.  But if I was a five year old girl, everyone would think I was cute and they’d be totally understanding.  Hmmm…unfair?



Can’t Catch Me

That’s serious arrogance.  On the shoe of, presumably, the graffiti artist is the sign of his attitude:  “CAN’T CATCH ME”.  I wonder if he actually left his shoe behind on purpose or if he took off so fast that he left them behind by accident.  Oh…wait…there’s an option I hadn’t thought about until this moment…

Our local graffiti artist is the…GINGERBREAD MAN!  It all makes sense now.  I remember how the story goes:

I’ve run away from a little old woman,

A little police man,

And I can run away from you, I can!

You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!


Wow.  My exam marking exhaustion is making my fevered brain worse by the moment.  Let’s stop this before it gets…any…crazzzzzzzzzzzzz


Do you think it’s someone’s job to polish the ceiling of the Skytrain?

Seriously.  I actually wonder this.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while may have seen a similar photo about a year ago, during the Winter Olympics.  I have always been impressed by the cleanliness of the ceiling in the Skytrain.  So, I wonder if there is someone whose job it is to clean that thing, because it always gleams and reflects so nicely.  Maybe they just steam-clean the whole thing at the end of each run.

I wonder this because I think fewer people would want to ride the train if, when they boarded, there was gunk and gum and unidentifiable, mucus looking stuff all over the ceiling of the train.  On the other hand, maybe I’m tall enough to notice, but no one else notices these things.

Now that I think about it, the train is really clean in general.  I’ve never noticed any graffiti in any of the cars.  The worst “offense” is some culturejammer who keeps leaving well-written, neatly copied questions on stickers and attaching them to the advertisements in each of the train cars.  Who are these unsung heroes of public transportation who keep everything so clean?

Which is worse: graffiti or garbage?

Both are against local bylaws.  Both are frowned upon by the good citizens who pay their taxes and are, by extension, paying for both of them to be cleaned up.  Both can be eyesores, a blight on the visual landscape.  But, if I had to choose, I’d take graffiti over garbage any day of the week.  Let’s be clear here, though, that the graffiti I’m talking about is ART graffiti, not tagging a random wall in a school or bathroom stall with a Sharpie; not writing insults and epithets that should be painted over as quickly as possible.

Garbage is indicative of laziness, the seeming inability of the perpetrator to take their junk a few meters over and dispose of it properly.  Graffiti is indicative, often, of an overabundance of artistic energy.  I just wish we had better public places where graffiti was encouraged.

But, what do you think? Garbage or graffiti?