Sunday, June 17, 2007
Since its first debut on the streets of Jakarta in 1961, the Bemo apparently still maintains its existence in the metropolitan. Its sleek curvy hood and its archetypal lamp case immediately sets the Bemo apart from any other means of transport in Jakarta. Its scintillating design still stands out amidst the wave of modern vehicle and the fact that the city's youngsters today prefer the angkot as their means of transports, while only the distinguished kind prefers this classic three-wheeled vehicle.
"It brings a lot of memories back to my mind. Me and my wife met in a Bemo in 1970. We fell in love at first sight when our knees touched," says Rokhidi, a loyal Bemo rider.
Dudung, a Bemo driver pointed out clearly why he still prefers to drive the antique transport: "Bemo is one vehicle that was NEVER produced in this country. The spareparts came all the way from Japan... or Germany... I don't quite remember. This is an ultra-exclusive vehicle that needs to be preserved."
The true origin of the now-decreasing-in-population Bemo remains a mystery. Some of the city's creme de la creme told Indonesia Prattler that Bemos arrived as a gift from the Japanese government to support the GANEFO (Games of New Emerging Forces) back in sixties, while some argued that the Indonesian government acquired them from German.
"It is not important where it came from. To me, the Bemo is like gold. I could never let anybody take this baby away from me," Dudung pats his Bemo affectionately. This bearded gentleman cruises the city everyday and aims at nothing but the pleasure of aiding people to get to their desired destination. "Riding the Bemo is truly a romantic experience. I couldn't remember how many lovebirds met on my Bemo. So to me it's not just hard labour. It's a labour of love," Dudung said with a smile.
The exclusivity of this stylish conveyance can be observed in its rareness. Dudung was utterly passionate when Indonesia Prattler inquired about this. "You see, nowadays the Bemo lovers exist only in some parts of the city. My friends and I are the Bemo afficionados from Bendungan Hilir. We maintain good contacts with our alliance at Northern Jakarta and Bogor as well. It's important for us, especially ones who are still very active in Bemo-transport business, to keep updated about the newest spareparts and other Bemo-related matters," he said.
Lovers like Rokhidi have their own opinions about Bemo. "Today's vehicles are impersonal. Aside from the knee-touching and the face-to-face seating arrangements, what I love about Bemo is its subtle rocking sensation. It is quite different from the Bajaj, as you can share this with six other persons in one sitting. C'est l'experience extraordinaire!" exclaimed Tukiman, a Bemo fanatic.
What about the government's aim of deleting Bemo?
"I do not recall there was any 'deletion' of Bemos. They were only trying to lessen the pollution caused by the Bemo's emition, and we Bemo enthusiasts are working on it as well. After all, if they can manage to discover new technology for the new gasoline-free Bajaj, then I think there should be no problem in inventing new technology for the Bemo. And it won't be long for people to start appreciating the Bemo's co-existence with the Busway, the Monorail and the Waterway ," Dudung said, with an optimistic look in his eyes.
We shall wait, then.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
"I tried so hard to get this job, I went through series of tests," Burhan says with tears streaming down his eyes memorizing the unusual activities he needed to perform during the one full week of tests.
Burhan wakes up everyday at dawn, waiting for his partner Rahmat at the corner of touch alley nearby his beautifully hand-built 4x4 meters fortress. "I want my kids to inherit this fortress of mine in the future," he says even before Indonesia Prattler initiated asking questions regarding his now eight year-old home. It shows how much he loves his stunning pile of wood. However, Burhan is yet to be married, he glazes a fine-looking young lady whom also a dedicated pre-paid cellphone credit staff across his home; "someday I am going to marry her," he says while puffing his clove cigarette, "but first, I need to be brave to go there and talk to her," he says again while absenting shred of cloves from his mouth.
Burhan is a Tangerang native, Indonesia Prattler has suspected it due to his consistent ultra-high tone voice every time he articulates his thoughts. He said it was a tough trip for a 16 year-old boy riding the D-01 bus from his origin to the most southern tip of Jakarta. Due to the insufficient budget, the only form of food he could afford to purchase for his snack during the entire three-hour trip was fried peanuts. "I could never forget how suffering it was," Burhan says "but now, I can afford a pack of nasi padang for lunch," he says again while giggling. It is an enormous progress, indeed.
As often as he possibly could, Burhan wears the same outfit he wore the first time he arrived in Jakarta each time he is performing his watering duty. He said that the trousers were made by his step mother, the teared back-pocket of his jeans trousers caused by his father emotional waft; he was crying, begging and pulling his trousers to keep him from going away. "I tears my heart out every time I see this ripped back-pocket, but it also encourages me to work hard so I can send money home to help my father's cricket ranch to grow," he adds while turning his head away, hiding his watery eyes. When Indonesia Prattler asked about his pink t-shirt, he stated that he does not have any good reminiscence about the 100% cotton piece of clothing, he embezzled the t-shirt from a nearby store, "it's just a reminder that I shouldn't do the thing I've done to get this t-shirt anymore because I have a legit job now," he says. He later added that the word in front of the t-shirt makes his love to it grows infinitely, "it encourages me to be sure, to be faithful all the time," he states while pointing at the word Yankee on the t-shirt, which he surely convinced that it is a misspelled Indonesian word of yakin.
His colleague Rahmat has arrived, driving the huge water tank vehicle. When he was asked about his career path and if he has any plans to excel it in the department he belongs now, he answered with an even higher tone, "as long as these two hands of mine are still strong enough to hold this hose, and as long as my buddy Rahmat is still able to drive this truck, we will always be the city's dynamic-duo, watering grasses and plants on every single boulevard and avenue," Burhan says with shaky voice, describing his noble intention of making Jakarta a beautiful metropolitan.
"Show us green, and we'll wet 'em!", both of them shout as if it was their motto.
How could Jakarta ever repay these heroes?
Saturday, June 9, 2007
In the sweltering heat of the metropolitan, Ucup Angke offers those trapped in Jakarta's traffic the freshest news. "People today don't read newspapers that much. They only do it in the morning. That is why I feel obligated to push their interest in reading the news even in the oddest hours," said Ucup, a young lad from Angke.
"It's not about business, I am just very disturbed to find our nation's awareness of technology that takes over the necessity of reading off what's printed. In the olden days, even the simplest form of paper with something written on it is already a form of entertainment in its own right. Nowadays people rely so much on television that they are somewhat ignorant to the printed media. What they forget is how our children are still taught with printed materials at schools. I'm just preserving what needs to be preserved," Ucup stated with a hint of fierce in his voice.
The soft-spoken gentleman is still in the process of finishing his elementary education. He chuckled when Indonesia Prattler questioned him about his academic background. "From what I believe, the streets of Jakarta offers more education than those offered at schools. I learned to read and write by myself. My advanced skill on martial arts, too, was acquired from my activities outdoors," he grinned, showing us a modest smile. Ucup is an Angke native, coming from the northern part of the city. He even performed some moves of the 'berantem jalanan' or 'street fight' style to Indonesian Prattler, "Growing up in Angke forced me to inherit the natives' hot temper, which is very good for my safety."
Ucup Angke, so he is recognized by his colleagues, is one of the city's rare gem. His passion for the literary world overwhelmed Indonesia Prattler. His love for the printed media has also influenced his sense of style. A 'Koran Tempo' printed fisherman-style cap covers his shoulder-length locks, and to complete the 'street' look, the fine gentleman go with 'Uber Bronx' short-sleeved over long-sleeved style. "It's important to protect my skin with the simplest means possible. I don't like fancy sunscreens. Too much hassle," he said when Indonesia Prattler praised his smart-casual attire.
Until today, Ucup still has no desire in settling down. "I'm not old yet. I revel in the adventure of advising Jakartans to read more. And I savor the joy of doing it straight to the target(s) right at the heart of the city."
A vehement ardor, indeed.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Indonesia Prattler spotted this beautifully handmade business cubicle that provides almost everything for its customers amidst the elite houses in the neighborhood. "I chose white as the primary color of my business cubicle with a purpose, I want it to look posh," Mr. Yono says with a smile while scratching his balding head, which is the result of hard-thinking to escalating his business. "It (the color) was recommended by Mr. Akang, the designer of this cubicle," he says again. Indonesia Prattler could not agree more as its poshness blinds the eyes of every single passerby.
Mr. Yono is a true entrepreneur, he arrived at the capital city of Indonesia from his hometown of Brebes back in the 80s - when gasoline was still at its most decent price, U.S. dollars was still below Rp. 1,000 and Michael Jackson was still black - with nothing but a few pieces of clothing and very little fund. He went straight to the eastern area of Jakarta and opened a similar business, selling everything a housewive would ever ask to stop her crying child, everything a maid would ever need in the kitchen; from the delicious temu lawak juice, lovely colored pairs of flip-flops to the scrumptious durian candy.
He did not last long there as his business wasn't doing too well. He moved around to several other venues when he finally concluded his business adventure by reconciling his posh cubicle in the Rawa Belong region. "(My) business is doing very well here," he says "when people couldn't find the things they want in a big supermarket, they always come here, everyone will end up coming to Mr. Yono's for anything," he says again with giggles. He has added a wide range selections of clove cigarettes, fresh variety of monosodium glutamate loaded snacks and a fine collection of heavily caffeine loaded energy drinks into the list of items he sells, it does not stop there as he recently added the flavorsome 'Yono's special coffee mix' in his menu for his arduous customers. These new items bring him massive profit each day.
But let's don't forget this middle-aged gentleman's sense of fashion. He wears a button-down shirt, tucked-in in his dress-up pants everyday to cover his well sculpted and tanned body. His taste of fashion swoons numerous of young ladies, proven by his recent marriage to a fully blossomed 18 year-old lady.
Mr. Yono is apparently more than just an entrepreneur; he is also the subordinate of the vice secretary of the junior associate security team. When a couple of years ago crime was at its height, the leader of the community proposed him personally to be responsible of closing and opening one of the most crucial street gates in the neighborhood: the street where his posh cubicle located. Celebration was thrown by the locals, A-List guests from the community were invited to the feast of the year, roast lambs was certainly the main course. Rumor has it that the celebration midgets Paris Hilton's birthday bash in Japan. This was done because the chief of the local community was confident with his choice, that Mr. Yono is the right person for the job. "This job is very important for our security," Mr. Yono says with no smile on his face, indicating the seriousness of the matter, "we can never joke around with crime that always seeks opportunity to happen," he later added.
When the time strikes 11PM, Mr. Yono does his gate job and firmly closes and locks his cubicle doors. "It's time to go home now", Mr. Yono says while getting his fine, state-of-the-art, two-wheeled, non-motored vehicle out of the back entrance of the cubicle. He waves good-bye as he is pedaling away to Kampung Alam, a back-to-nature residential area with wood-based houses, unmanufactured small paths and a lot of trees in the backyards. For Mr. Yono, tomorrow will be another beautiful day to do business, another beautiful day to serve his customers but of course, it is going to be just another day to make profit.
Mr. Yono sets a prefect example for all of us to strive to go through everyday life. His strong character of discipline and responsibility to help the community is a necessity for every single citizen to look upon. Individuals like Mr. Yono to his local community really is a reminiscent of an oasis in the desert.
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit
-Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)
Fine cuisine is a lot like a great poetry. It might look very simple, yet it's composed beautifully to achieve such an overwhelming and hearty after-effect.
Indonesia Prattler strolled around the Mampang Area just a couple of days ago and spotted the newest venue to see and be seen. Standing tall amidst countless of more modest constructions that surrounds it, Bakso Poetry's glorious ocean blue-and-sunshine yellow facade makes it very hard to miss.
"The place is named after its owners' first daughter," a patron says while quaffing the rich and flavorsome soup. "I especially love their bone-marrow flavor. It's very tasty and appetizing," Maman, the patron said while rubbing his moustached upper lip with his sleeve. There isn't any relation from the word 'Poetry' with 'Poetry the daughter', either. However, Maman said, "Well, anybody is allowed to use words in their own interpretation."
Another habitué, Mrs. Tukijan opts for the ambience rather than the entrees. "The place gives me a sense of serenity, a luxury I gave up when I gave birth to my twins a year ago. Besides, this place is very strategic with its unblocked view to the nearest motorbike-transport service; where my husband does his prominent business."
A place of serenity indeed, for peace-seekers, right in the heart of the bustling metropolitan. What a rare phenomenon. So are you ready for yet another dining experience?
Sunday, June 3, 2007
This placidly looking gentleman has been in service for the city's waste management department for years. Despite of his rank in the department after years of service, he is still at his best with his unpretentiousness in appearance. The loose-fitting t-shirt he is wearing allows him to move his arms around with the brooms in both hands. "The brooms were made of the finest thin woods you can ever obtain in the Kampung Curug area, while the rubber to tied the thin woods together was acquired from an old underwear, which I forfeited to complete the making of the brooms", this fine looking with perfectly-shaped nose gentleman named Mujianto says proudly. The matching brownish cargo pants - with a hint of dirt that gives the impression of a real fellow - was purchased from a respectable market called Pasar Ciputat, the pink baseball cap completes his daily-working style.
His responsibility to his important task is unquestionable; he never lets the city down with dirt and garbage appearing before his eyes, thus the on-guard position tools he is having while enjoying the palatable gourmet from a nearby bistro. "I like the open-air," he says while sitting on the city's plush 18th century type of ceramic to devour the delicious rice topped with crisp, square-shaped soybean curds - that is now widely consumed by vegetarians wordwide - with the most natural and useful tool he ever received from God, his hands.
While his friends are packed with their belongings and ready to depart the work place with a huge, expensive and famous german made vehicle in the background of this picture to see their loved ones, Mujianto opts to stay. "I need to make sure that the city is clean, even after the sun sets and everybody is asleep," Mujianto says with a smile, showing small bits of the aforementioned soybean curd in between his teeth.
Mujianto is the exact type of person we need, as without him it is indisputably that we are unable to enjoy the excellent view of our beloved metropolitan.
Mr. Ah Seng has been involved in the noodle business for the past sixteen years. The master in his own craft, he only employed two assistants in the daily operation. "The smaller I keep the organization, the better result it will bring. That way, the secret recipe is highly guarded and the quality will always be greatly maintained," his eyes flickered. He told Indonesia Prattler that he would love to show how the noodles are produced, but due to security reasons, he showed us the final product instead. "My noodles are easily recognized through its distinguished thickness in their strands. They are made from the finest flour and contain no preservatives. The sauces are transported daily from Karawang to preserve its freshness," the proud man said.
Graduated from a local elementary school in Bangka, Mr. Ah Seng traveled to Jakarta in 1980 and fell in love with the dynamic life, he was reluctant to go back. He started his now widely recognized noodle empire all by himself. "It was already a competitive era for the noodle business, but I refuse to get competition get me down," he smirks, showing off a hint of perfectly embedded gold teeth inside his strong upper jaw. The man knows style, as some Prattlers might say. His simplistic approach towards the business is reflected through his highest quality polyester t-shirt covering his well-toned body. The hint of natural prespiration and marks of humidity traced on his chest, indicates his love of sports. Mr. Ah Seng laughed, "Oh I exercise everyday. Accelerating the palanquin and its contents helps a great deal in keeping my stamina at top form. It's a bit sad that these days I have the two assistants to do it for me. Nevertheless, it's still great that I can walk beside them while they do it. It's good for my heart."
Now, who wouldn't love to relish a savory bowl of noodle served by a good-hearted man?