Saturday, May 01, 2004



Spending my last night in Jakarta blogging from the cybercafe. Feeling quite relaxed after completing my job here; I also managed to meet most of the people that I had planned to meet and had sampled most of my favourite food during this trip.

This morning I decided to take the Busway to Block M to meet up with Ibu Titi. As I was making my way across the overhead pedestrian bridge to the Sarinah Busway station, a demo by one of the political parties was building up along Jalan Thamrin. Perched on top of the bridge, I had a good bird's eye view of the whole event--a street-long parade of placades, banners and chanting demonstrators. I was fortunate that I brought along my camera with me; so I snapped to my heart's content.

Over the past years that I've been staying near the Sarinah area, I've witnessed countless demonstrations. They are often held on Saturdays when the traffic is light. Usually these are very peaceful and well-organized affairs--in fact, there's even a carnival-like atmosphere about them, with lively participants marching briskly and chanting slogans, dressed uniformly in their brightly-coloured party T-shirts, accompanied by waves of motorcycles and cars blaring their horns. After the whole circus ends, food packets will be distributed around to all its participants. It's a simple, easy and even fun job for the participants--many who actually do this for a living.

Because demos are such frequent affairs, people hardly bother to notice which party is demonstrating and what is it that they are demonstrating about. Whenever there's an unexpected traffic-jam, people just assume that there's a demonstration going on somewhere. After a while these demos can quite tiresome. Like what the papers like to say, instead of practising proper democracy, the people are simply demo-crazy.

I guess the demo I witnessed this morning made my short trip to Jakarta a complete one. Last week I had already experienced one of the most massive traffic jams in recent years. Mission accomplished. Time to go home.

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