Mon, 16 Jun 2003

'Honest people hard to find in Jakarta'

Jakarta is commemorating its 476th anniversary this month. Many activities are being held across the capital to mark the celebrations. However, not all Jakartans are entirely happy with the quality of life in the city as they have to struggle hard for survival every day. Some of them shared views with The Jakarta Post about the city based on their own experiences.

Nana, not her real name, 33, is an employee with a private company in South Jakarta. She lives in Pekayon, East Jakarta:

I had the image of Jakarta as a very attractive place eight years ago. It appeared to me like an exotic person who attracts everyone.

I had a dream that this metropolis would offer me many opportunities to improve my life.

But now, the image has totally changed in my mind as I deal with the day-to-day realities and the inner condition of the city.

I find it true when many people say that Jakarta is a city of violence and unending struggle for survival.

However, years of ups and downs of my life have been enough for me whether or not to continue surviving here.

All I see is only hypocritical people everywhere, particularly in my workplace. They often deceive and manipulate for their own benefit. And, I experience it in my personal life, especially when I have relationships with guys. They are all disgusting.

I think I have to survive here, despite the financial problems. I plan to quit my job by the end of this month and go back to my hometown in Yogyakarta. I miss the peacefulness there with honest and sincere people -- who are hard to find in this capital.

Andru, not his real name, 33, is a seasonal vendor selling soft drinks. He lives in Pondok Gede, East Jakarta, with his friends:

I moved to the city after I finished junior high school in Yogyakarta several years ago. I just thought that by continuing studies here, it would make my future better.

However, after years of living in Jakarta, I can say that I did not become even better after interacting with the real condition of the city.

The misled social interaction and friendships could likely make good people bad. I was accustomed to alcohol and drugs from that.

I experienced how a tough life can lead people to commit crimes. I myself do it even to this day.

Many times my friends, who are mostly bad guys, offer me lucrative jobs to earn huge amounts of money instantly by resorting crimes.

Sometimes I joins my friends in becoming pickpockets in public buses or robbing motorcyclists. But the most lucrative is when someone hires us to beat up or kill someone. At least I can get money to survive if the police ever followed up on those crimes an I had to escape to another city.

Well, I agree now with the notion that Jakarta is identical with an extremely tough and competitive situation.

I really have got to change my evil ways ... someday, when I get an appropriate job to make my life decent. I also plan to stop my friends from always influencing me to commit crimes.

The only way now is to survive and try to save money before I move back to my village in Java.

Tohid, 30, is an office boy with a private company in Kemanggisan, West Jakarta. He lives in the nearby area of Slipi Jaya with his relatives:

I reckon that Jakarta is very tough, merciless city for migrants like me. I came here 10 years ago.

However, up to the moment, my former dream of having a decent life with enough money has not yet come true.

The motive to change my status in life drove me to move here. What I knew was that the city was not a place for those who did not need to struggle hard for life.

I have tried my best for years by becoming a house servant and an office boy with a state-run bank but I remain poor.

Nonetheless, I disagree with the notion that Jakarta is the city of violence and a hardscrabble existence for many of us. In a way it might be true. But I also experience that there are a lot of good people here, whom I have met so far.

So, it actually depends on how we adapt to the surrounding atmosphere. I've got no problem with residents in the crowded city.

I don't want to give up, despite my unfortunate fate so far. I want to continue to try my luck in the city to pursue my dream of a decent life.