Jakarta today is very different from the Jakarta I knew, or we knew from 20 years ago. 20 years ago, it seemed dark and dingy and now it felt brighter and happier. For my son and daughter, it was all a foggy memory because they were little. My son was with me, so it opened his eyes a little and he too realized that the move to a developing country was not as bad as it seemed.
Developing, third world, whatever phrase you want to use. It sure didn’t feel third world. The changes made by the previous government were obvious. Indonesia is known for being corrupt, but some of the money sure made it to infrastructure.
Traffic was much the same, maybe a touch lighter than before. Jakarta will never be New York or Toronto. It shouldn’t be and no one should expect it to be. The scooters run rampant; the vendors are all over the side of the road. This is what gives character to the city.
It was definitely cleaner. Not only because the sun was shining most days but because it was cleaner. The malls and buildings were even more amazing than before. No matter what time you enter a mall, the coffee shops are full, business is being conducted and people are meeting. The malls are a hub for gathering and socializing unlike in North America. That said, malls in Jakarta put many malls to great shame compared to North America. The malls, just like the city have a very international flavour to them. If you were dropped in the middle of the Jakarta business district you would be hard-pressed to know where you are. The same old skyscrapers and the same old downtown core. Looking out of my corner office window, the view could have been any downtown business district in the world. Was I happy and positive about my move? It was too early to tell. What was crystal clear was that this was going to be a wild ride.
MD Pictures was and is one of the largest, if not the largest production house/studio in Indonesia. Being part of a team that produced big-screen movies for the public was exciting. What was going to happen in the next few days, weeks and months were unclear. I was willing to give it a year and see how things go.
Now there were more pressing matters at hand. I had thought about this moment for months and now the time to say bye to my son had come. Imagining saying bye to my son was one thing, but the thought of having to do it, well that was much harder than I thought.
Time seems to stand still until it passes by at lightspeed and suddenly that second you dread is here.
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