Living in Jakarta : A New Chapter ?

Appleton, Wisconsin, USA in April 2019

On a rare occasion where my conscience taking over my fantasy, I saw a boy took the garbage from my trash bin and I remember that he lives in a simple building located behind my place. At the time, I wondered what he feels knowing and seeing people around him have better living than himself. We shouldn’t have created a social economy class.

It’s been 7 weeks since I stepped my feet back to Jakarta, the city where I spent most of my adulthood and has become my home for more than 10 years. As I told you before on my previous thought, the capital did not attract me any longer because of some reason. But then I changed my mind and decided to come back. Since I am in love with Yogya, I waited until the last second to jump into the train (I went to the wrong station btw and had arrived at another station right on time when the train was about to leave). I arrived in Jakarta right on my first day of work.

JAKARTA VS JOGJA AND BALI

Tokyo, Japan in May 2019

Since I left Indonesia in 2017, my perception of Jakarta has changed much. Mostly it was influenced by Kyle’s feelings towards Jakarta. No matter how often & hard I tried to make him happy during our time living in the city he still said that he didn’t like living in Jakarta. Thanks to a British expat in Vin Phuc, Vietnam, who had poisoned his mind even before he came here. But also, living abroad gave me a bigger picture of living quality in Jakarta. I then understood why those grumpy expats often complained about their life in Jakarta and hate the city. This is not the best city if you want to live healthily and have a long age. The pollution in Jakarta has become worse than before. I rarely can see the blue sky since it always grey or white! This isn’t an ideal city if you want to live peacefully. The stress peeks over in every corner of the city, you can name it, from the bad traffic, work, endless protests, flood, loneliness, etc. The only entertainment you can find is in shopping malls. Don’t you feel like what I feel? It’s like we are living in the box. We jump from one box to another box since the outdoor space is too polluted and poisoned.

I won’t go far whining here. It won’t change the situation in Jakarta and I have made the decision to live here, perhaps for the rest of my life, I don’t know for sure. Life needs a purpose and I can only find that purpose in Jakarta (though I have tried with Singapore as well hahaha). What I know is the city wants me to be here. But speaking about my ideal city, in Indonesia it will be either Yogyakarta or Bali. I dream of living in a middle-size city without too many traffic jam, pollution, and fewer people. Jogja has a perfect blend of modern and traditional culture that I like and also had found in Hanoi. The people are extremely polite and kind (I don’t hang with the conservatives), most of them are educated, surrounded by stunning nature, has a bunch of tourist spots, but also has varied entertainment. Ah.. and I love my place near the Merapi mountain. I found peace whenever I stay near the mountains and lakes. The only downside from Jogja is the city isn’t great for those with career-building minded like me. But perhaps I will come back in the future to open my business there.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia in June 2019

Whilst Bali is a familiar place for me since I used to live there in 2013 for a year. Even though I wasn’t very happy during my time living there, I am still open to the idea of living there in the future. Who doesn’t like living in Bali, btw?. When we still lived in the US, we have chosen a house to live in a neighborhood near Canggu. But since I came back by myself, I don’t fancy the idea of living in a romantic place like Bali by myself. But, if I get an opportunity to live there in the future, I would choose between Amed, Ubud, Canggu, or somewhere else near the lake.

SEVERE ALLERGY

Poci at her home in the US

Jakarta has been very kind to me since I followed my instinct to move here since over a decade ago. So I got shocked when I found myself got sick on my 2nd week! It happened a week after I went to Singapore for a weekend escape and a day before I supposed to meet T. The catastrophe was started right after I drank an ulcer medicine (I haven’t had this kind of medicine before). Soon after I drank it, I felt the side effect such as fever and diarrhea. It had even gotten worse when I slept. My face felt like being burn and felt very itchy. In the morning, I saw the rashes at some part of my face then it spread all over my face. Oh gosh, I became a monster!

Every doctor that I met and asked including Hili told me that I got an allergy. I then went to 2 hospitals to cure this shitty condition. For the rest of my life, I rarely had taken any medicine and now my life depends on medicine that I have to drink 3x a day! What an unfortunate thing to start my new life in Jakarta 😦

Most likely the allergy is caused by the bad air quality in Jakarta. I have checked the water and ensure that I don’t have an allergy to food. A few days after starting my medication, the rashes on my face had gone but it moved to my arms and legs. Awww maybe my resentment towards Jakarta disappoints it and it decides to give me some lessons.

I still suffer from the allergy until now…

ON & OFF DEPRESSION

Appleton, Wisconsin, USA in April 2019

Back when I was living in Yogyakarta in May, I suffered depression which made me can’t sleep nor eat. I had done stuff to overcome depression such as did sports, talking to people, writing as part of my therapy, travel, and etc. 2 people in my closest circle also act as psychiatrist and so far they have helped me to deal with it (this situation is kind of ironic since one of them is the ultimate cause of my depression).

Yogyakarta, Indonesia in June 2019

As G said back in Yogyakarta, at the time I was lost and in a life transition. I didn’t know what to do with my life yet. During my 4 months stay in the student city, I tried to do some business from furniture, export & import to a PR agency. But what someone who mentally and emotionally unstable can do?. I ended up spending most of my time with meeting people, travel, and writing travel stories, though the latter has significantly proven helped me overcome my depression. But other than that, I find it hard to stay focus and being discipline doing my projects.

Now I am not a lost person anymore. I have found a life purpose. My situation became unfavorable when the depression hit me earlier this week. I thought it has gone but it’s not! I don’t know what’s the cause but I have to find a way to cure it, otherwise, it will be disturbing my life.

VAIN CULTURE

Pari island, Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2019

Traveling extensively for a few years has transformed me to be a new person. I can’t go back to be the person I used to be and I also see things differently, including about the social life in Jakarta. In the west, everyone is the same, no hierarchy. Most people are in the middle class and many of them do not need to show off their social status nor classify people based on their social-economic status. The west also appreciates and encourages individualism which I find very positive. Everybody can be themselves and free to express themselves. Here in Asia, I feel the pressure to follow certain standards. The culture seems to lack diversity. Let’s say the beauty standard. You have to make your hair straight to look nice. Many still think that to be pretty you have to have white skin. Such thinking is 300 years behind the west.

From the 21st floor of an apartment in South Jakarta, I also saw a huge disparity between the densely populated neighborhood and a very nice apartment complex. It’s not an uncommon view in the capital as what I saw from the life of a cleaning service boy in my building.

Another thing about Jakarta that irritates me the most is how often people like to talk about work and business. It’s like their life is only spent on working, whilst for me working is just a means to live the life that I want. I also find it very boring to talk about work all the time. Where are the exciting conversations about history, politic or culture that I had in Jogja?

Singapore in September 2019

But it’s not the right time to feel fully disappointed with people in Jakarta as recently I found a few people who share similar interests and views like me. It seems my life in Jakarta will be more exciting. We’ll see…

2 thoughts on “Living in Jakarta : A New Chapter ?

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