And how was Independence Day for you?
We were popped out of the train at Juanda station this morning along with umpteen others as if the carriage was a squeezed grape; as I described it this evening to 'er indoors, it was like an almighty orgasm. I found an empty bench, donned my tie and black shoes in order to appear 'professional' and then went downstairs ~ this is an elevated railway line ~ to go about the business of my new job.
I counted 15 assorted bodies asleep on cardboard or sarongs laid on the ceramic flooring of the concourse below, 6 mothers doing the family washing at the kerbside and 4 unaccompanied toddlers, with a young teenaged girl 'in charge', amusing themselves in a game of tag. None of these folk were waiting for a train.
Later, having completed a bit of admin back at HQ, with a colleague who lives near me, we wended our way under the four lane highway, over the bridge that crosses the black fetid watercourse and into the patch of greenery alongside the toll road. There was a young lad with a plastic bag on his head, obviously lost in a world of his own. A closer look told us that he had Down's syndrome. And that he was quite alone.
As we crossed the footbridge over the toll road in order to wait for an empty taxi home, we both wondered about the whys and wherefores of that lad. How does he cope? Who dumped him? Was there something we could or should have done?
In Jakarta, most folk turn a blind eye to others' poverty and distress. Street kids learn to fend for themselves and to support each other. Neither of us had a ready answer. I feel guilty about doing nothing and I suspect so does M. Our excuse, if we're allowed one at all, is that we're both struggling to raise local families and we can't all lead ascetic, self-sacrificing lives.
Click this "Street kids*Jakarta"
link in Google, and you'll have a choice of 70,500 pages to browse.
So, how was Independence Day for you? Did you treat yourselves to a long weekend in Bali or down at the beach, go to a nice restaurant or did you just take it easy?
I did, but I know that those on the station concourse and the lad in the park didn't.