The Have's and the Have-Nots

Adam Winkel
Artikel oleh : Adam Winkel
Foto oleh : Adam Winkel
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On the balcony of a lavish Depok apartment, the apparent economical, and even deeper, social divide between the have's and the have-nots is present to the naked eye. The orange ceramic roofed, garbage perimeter'd, train track surrounded 'kampung' (ghetto/village) lives in complete view of residents in the concrete, high-rise, 3 million Rupiah a month condominiums (which is more than the average monthly salary of those living in the 'kampung'). Do those looking in the condominiums really care though?


Jakarta is a growing city where the people of the nation’s capital live side-by-side yet far, far away. You have the fenced in, 2 air-conditioners-to-a-room, golden gate mansions of Pondok Indah and you have the crowded, trash-in-the-river, one bed shacks of Pondok Indah. It all just depends on where and how we see the difference; or in this case, where and how we DON’T see the difference.


The change happening at the moment isn’t just an economic or technological one, rather, social and culture ones. As with other developing countries, Indonesia’s middle class has rapidly grown, especially visible in the cities around the nation. Snapshots and videos of life in the Manila and Bangkok closely resemble that of life in Jakarta, there are the high rollers and those who are getting rolled on. In this great divide, the poor stay poor, the middle class stays the same, and the ultra-rich get richer.


An example of this, from personal experience and observation, are that of the younger generation. The privileged kids of today can enjoy the new filters of Snapchat, the likes from other privileged kids on Instagram, and the ability to Path hip, new restaurants with 7-digit bills to be paid at the swipe of Daddy’s credit card. The not so privileged kids of today can enjoy the new desk job at a Telkomsel branch (Indonesia’s leading telecommunications firm), midnight deliveries of food as a McDonald’s delivery boy, and repetitive outfits consisting of clothes from last Lebaran.


To quote the Brazilian movie ‘Cidade Des Homens’, in which the poor favelas of Rio de Janeiro are backdrop to the white sandy beaches of the Copacabana:

“Ever notice that rich kids at 18, they get to drive. And poor kids? They get to work.”


That quote couldn’t apply more to a dear friend of mine, Hari. I have never fully understood the words ‘commitment’ and ‘determination’ until Hari. He and I grew up on the same street, we were born on the same year, heck, we’re even the same height; but what differentiates us, is that we’re opposites of each other. What I mean by that is that I have what Hari does not have.

Hari grew up without a father, raised by his mother in a 2 room house along with 5 other family members and friends, he went to school and started working as soon as the words ‘Lulus (Passed)’ appeared on his report, he became the sole breadwinner for his whole family. All this time though, he has never complained. I can’t think of a single time he didn’t have a big grin on his face or ever spoke ill of anyone. This, I believe, is a boy (scratch that) a man who faces opposition and perseveres and smiles throughout. This is amazing to me because there are many who aren’t in Hari’s shoes and all they do is scowl and curse at the world as they sit upon their golden throne.

It is truly upsetting when a person treats a waiter/driver/helper/insert-occupation-here badly just because of social status. The snapping of fingers to a waiter, or the tsk-ing or whistling at a person to get their attention, doesn’t only show ignorance and kampung-ness (which is ironic because no one in the kampung does that), it highlights a socio-economic divide in which one feels it appropriate to do so at the time. If both the customer and the waiter were of the same socio-economic status, trust that there would be no snapping. If all living conditions were the same and the upper class could experience the lower class, trust that there would be no snapping. If the upper class had to serve the lower class, trust that there would be no snapping. If there were more Hari’s in the upper class, trust that there would be no snapping.


What's funny is that a lot of those who live in the kampung work in the apartments and malls right in their backyard; or back-blocks of rock. Those McDonald’s delivery boys, real close to home. The Go-Jek drivers, real close to home. Those who work in our own households and drive our cars, how much closer to home can you get?


Next time you find yourself in that position, imagine if the tables were turned.


Keep that in mind the next time you go swimming in a clear, blue pool with a garden view. Don't forget to look over the walls that surround personal paradise.


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