Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Poor majority are the real Indonesia

The article of Lourdes Didith V. Mendoza in The Jakarta Post on July 8, titled The closer look at the Philippines' poor is a cry from my heart. It is as if she were writing about the Indonesian situation. She did not mention that the poor are skivvying for us, polishing our shoes, washing our clothes, cleaning our houses, looking after our gardens, taking care for our little children, and that if they did not, we would have to do it all ourselves.

Yet, I can hear people say that they are less intelligent, so your cannot treat them as people of your own kind. I can hear people say that they are even a different human subspecies: People smile at me when I say I like to talk to them.

We are expats who haven't lived long in Jakarta. I'm interested in what they think about society and their way of living. People think I'm kind of strange when I say I have visited the house of a grobak (trash pushcart) man. Maybe they knew already; you cannot see the way he lives with his family without becoming very confused.

You think the Indonesia we live in is the real Indonesia, but when I see so many people (perhaps the majority?) struggling to survive in a very intelligent and creative way I think sometimes the real Indonesia is that of the man in the street.