jakarta: a(n) history*

two dutch officers on top of a makeshift watchtower

barefooted common soldiers kicking imaginary tumbleweeds

sweaty accountants in counting houses, bamboo fans, greasy watch chains

a javanese general shooting seven hundred of his own soldiers in the head

(he took off his blangkon before he shot the first one)

the dutch officers looking on with a mixture of disgust and awe

the mardijkers looking on with a mixture of disgust and awe

at petty thieves getting their bodies chariot-broken at the old town square

the javanese looking on

looking bored

at everything

the javanese

true laissez-faire artistes!

 

*lookout for the indonesian translation of Susan Blackburn’s (née Abeyasekere) Jakarta: A History, forthcoming sometime next year from Komunitas Bambu, publisher of insanely unsaleable but truly invaluable historical tomes on this incomprehensibly lovable city.

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