Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Lesser Life

A Lesser Life

There were a few blog topics floating in my head for the past few days. But when I actually find the time to finally put them to words, I have forgotten what they were. It's OK, because they will resurface again. They probably need more incubation time anyway. So let's talk about somethiing else today.

Let's talk about my favourite city, Jakarta. I haven't written much about Indonesia for a while; once upon a time, that was almost the only subject I wrote about. But still occasionally, I'd catch up with news from my second home through the Jakarta Post. Today, while browsing through their website, I read a report about the roof collapsing at a little known discotheque called "Monggo Mas", located on Jalan Hayam Wuruk.

I actually have a snapshot of the alley where Monggo Mas is located in my photoblog (the discotheque is just down the road, next to the mammoth Ecstasy haunt called Stadium). It is right in the heart of Kota, the Chinatown of Jakarta. Reading the Jakarta Post report, I was quite amused when it mentioned that "the roof fell in at about 2 a.m., when the disco, one of the city's busiest, had already closed for the night.". As far as I know, the whole area only comes to life after 2 a.m.

The picture in my photoblog was taken in the early evening, maybe around 6pm. So the entire alley looked quite empty. But when it gets dark, it becomes such an interesting place. An entire world flourishes right within that alley--a bustling hodgepodge community of hawkers, buskers, drug peddlers, mamasans, teen prostitutes, beggars, sex tourists, taxi drivers plus the ubiquitous men who seem to spend their entire lives in the streets, indulging in their favourite pastime: nongkrong. It's a fascinating ecosystem by itself. I've always felt that there's enough material there for a PhD thesis.

Actually when I was there, I had plans to write an article about Kota for a local magazine, after I had finished tackling the article on Sukarno's life in Bandung. But now I'll leave that for the enjoyment of some other eccentric scholar with nothing better to do. The Jakarta chapter of my life is closed...at least for now.

Back in KL, it's a complete different life. It takes some getting used to but I'm not complaining. Sometimes though I can't help feeling a bit like the Ray Liotta character in Goodfellas:
(Ending scene, voiceover narration)
Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over. And that's the hardest part. Today everything is different, there's no action. Can't even get decent food...I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup...

I wanted Indomie rebus with kopi tubruk. All I get is Maggi sup and teh tarik. It's not the same thing.

No comments: