In Search Of The Globe
On Saturday, Our Kid and I went in search of reading material at the Jakarta Book Fair, an annual clearance sale by local bookstores. He wanted some Nancy Drew stories
*, having enjoyed the complete series of CD-rom mysteries, but he was out of luck and will have to make do with a book of Limony Snicket puzzles
and a Penguin Classic edition of Wind In The Willows
, this year 'celebrating' the centenary of its publication.
I did a lot better with Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus To Our House
, J.G. Ballard's Rushing To Paradise
, three Chaucer Tales of Love and Chivalry
, Martin Amis' Einstein's Monsters
, Spring Miscellany
by Soseki Natsume, two train 'n' plane thrillers and the Regional Outlook 2006-7
from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
And all the above cost a total of Rp.132,000, approx.$12, although the original cover prices shown totalled way over Rp.1 million. I do love bargains.
The venue, the Jakarta Convention Centre is at the midtown clover-leafed intersection of Semanggi, and on the way I'd noticed a massive banner on the frontage of Plaza Semanggi advertising the newly-launched English language daily, the Jakarta Globe.
I've been a subscriber to the Jakarta Post for twenty years or so, and stuck with it in spite of its inadequacies - it's not only been the best of the bunch, but also seen off all-comers such as the Indonesian Observer, launched by Suharto's favourite protege and his successor as President, B.J. Habibie, and The Point, which appeared, disappeared and then redisappeared, much like the housing lost in Sidoarjo through a similar lack of business acumen from the Bakrie Boys.Unspun
has kept us informed of the progress, and sometimes lack of, of this James Riady
initiative. I was informed that the paper launched last Wednesday and as we were in the vicinity, I figured it would be a good idea to pass by the editorial offices and see if I could pick up a copy of the first issue. At Rp.8,550, it's Rp.3,000 more expensive that the Post, but, hey, I'm always a sucker for history in the making.
I also wanted to see about submitting articles, much as I have done on occasion for the Post. Simon P, of Metro Mad
has transferred for a nice increase in his weekly fee. And if he can get away with debunking shibboleths, much as I have done with sects, such as the brand of prosperity theology
practised by 'born again' James Riady, which puts profits before prophets, then gizza job, I can do that. Or take his column space at the Post.
I take no pleasure in shopping malls at the best of times, but when it's a round one, with taller anonymous blocks on two sides and the revolting smells of sweet carbohydrates assailing us from doughnut and bread emporia it seemed easy to get lost. Except I'm not sure that we were; perhaps there's a hidden door in the back of a wardrobe which we failed to find, an 'open sesame' that we were not privy to..
Whatever, we did talk to a security guy who knew about the new newspaper.
"There's a bloody great advertisement for it on a banner fluttering above your head."
"Jakarta Globe? Jakarta Globe? ..... Oh .... Jakarta Gloo
be! It's on the 9th floor. The lifts are over there."
"There" is, of course, a generality.
It's everybody's name when you've forgotten theirs: "Hi there, howzya doin'?"
It's also an idea which doesn't actually exist. 'Here' is where we are, in a fixed position, but where is 'there'?
Having, he told me, learned from experience, Our Kid sensibly took us past the escalators to the lifts behind them. Strewth, were they slow and so quickly overloaded! And when they arrived, they only went to floor 5A, with access to the multi-storey car park.
We thought that maybe the offices might be in the taller block to the side which has at least nine storeys. The lifts here also went to floor 5A.
We went home, empty handed apart from the books.
Perhaps we should have played chicken in the car park because Unspun has seen the offices "located on the 7th (or is it 9th?) floor of the parking lot of Plaza Semanggi.It’s quite an operation. The newsroom has space for about 120 people. The CPUs of the workstations are mini Macs and a “pod” where the editors sit and make decisions (as well as checking what Unspun’s written about them) sits smack at the center of the room.
Well, if they're now checking on what I've written about them, perhaps they'll courier a copy
to Jakartass Towers so I can give the paper a completely unbiased opinion.
Incidentally, there is a website, but it's this one
and not this one
*If anyone in Jakarta has copies of Nancy Drew stories, please email me if you're prepared to pass them on to Our Kid, aged 12¼.