by Tasa Nugraza Barley

The rain poured heavy, as predicted. The clouds had turned the sky black during the afternoon, clogging off the sun from shining. Although it lasted only for a moment, but the brutal rain managed to create chaos on the roads. I looked below through the office window and I found cars and motorcycles were only moving by the inch. It was just another Jakarta’s traffic madness, as it always happens during the time when office employees decide they’re too tired to keep on working, but the rain simply made it worse.

It’s an everyday problem for people in Jakarta. To the city’s middle-income class, and to the rest of the population, traffic is the single most frustrating problem that they have to face every single day. Hours are spent on the way to the office in the morning, hours are also spent in the afternoon on the way home. This situation has only got worse in the past few years that the city residents now have to face the fact that traffic jams also occur during the weekends, especially around the city’s busy shopping centers.

The solution to the never-ending traffic problem is definitely a reliable mass transport system, something that experts have pointed out since long time ago. But such a system won’t be ready at least until 2017, which is the set schedule of operation of the phase I of Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), which connects Lebak Bulus with Bundaran Hotel Indonesia.

Floods are another problem to the people in the city. Not only do they become a source of traffic madness, but these floods are the reason houses in many areas in the city are drowned during the rainy season, something that amazes the foreigners living in the capital.

Poverty and wealth distribution are also big problems for Jakarta. Despite its economic boom, with Jakarta is often considered as one of the world’s best property investment havens, slums are everywhere to be seen, behind those lavish, tall office buildings and apartments. As of September of last year, there were around 375,700 people, or around 3.71 percent of total population, living under the poverty line.

The list goes on and on.

So when a friend of mine wrote on Path saying he had wished to live overseas, probably while stuck in another traffic craziness, he immediately got many likes from his friends, wishing the same thing, including from me.

As someone who has spent years living in the J town, I know it too well that sometimes you find it hard to love the city. There are times when you find it so much easier to hate it or to curse at it, and you ask yourself whether you live here simply because you have no other choice.

But of course that’s not true. While there might be a thousand reasons to hate this place, you will always find one reason to hold on. This stinky, chaotic city is still a place you call home, after all.

Jakartans, and Indonesians in general, are not meant to live overseas, whether they admit it or not. No matter how much they say they hate their city or their country, at the end of the day they know that there’s no place like home. It’s probably just my theory, but I think the reason why you don’t find many Indonesians get successful in other countries, compared to people of other nations, is not because they are not smart. It’s simply because our people get homesick too easily. Send someone who has never been overseas, someone who keeps saying how much he or she hates this country, the chances are they will find out that the Indonesian life wasn’t that bad after all.

People have different reasons why they, or why they might not, think that Jakarta or other cities in the country, or the villages, deserve to be missed. But if I can sum them up, they come down to these three things below.

Before you scroll down, please be aware that my reasoning might sound too subjective. But of course I’m being subjective at the moment. Someone from Malaysia, for example, will call their country the best place in the whole world, and there’s nothing wrong about that.

The food. Yes, Indonesia’s food is the best in the world. Not because rendang was voted the tastiest dish in the world by the netizens on a foreign-based news website sometime ago, but simply because it is so. Indonesian food is so rich with ingredients, all kinds of them, in which spice plays a very important role. And due to our diverse cultures and ethnic groups, our dishes are so varied.

Nowhere in the world could you find food like ours, like the sop buntut your grandmother used to cook during the Lebaran celebration or the sate ayam sold at the nearby food stall. You can probably find Indonesian dishes in other parts of the world, but holy sh*t, they don’t taste the same.

You can easily find good, old-fashioned American steak when you travel the world, but damn, you won’t be able to find the real taste of nasi goreng or nasi padang anywhere else but in Indonesia. The best Indonesian foods can only be made by Indonesians and made in Indonesia. Period.

The people. Indonesians live in the East. It only means that like other nations in this region, we share the same kind of Eastern culture, in which family ties and friendships are respected above anything else. Unlike people in the West, where individualism is upheld, in here we should never let our family members live without support. You help them go through a hard time, you help them survive. Although some may say that such a custom makes our people lazy, but you know that the Indonesian style of family bond is probably the most beautiful gift that God has given us.

This country is a paradise because you live here surrounded by the people you love the most, the only people you want to share your happy stories with, the only people you want to share your pain with. You know you love them so much, your family members and your friends, that the only way you know to die is to lay there with them during the last minutes of you life.

Face it, Indonesians are happiest when they live with other Indonesians, because they are the only ones who could understand us. Think about it, how great can it be to live in a place where you can earn tons of money to support a lavish, elegant life but you can’t see your mother and father on the weekends or go meet your brothers just to say how much they’ve grown or hang out and laugh with your friends? I think such a life is empty and unfulfilled.

The nature. People who grew up in the 1990s never realized this. But thanks to the Internet and the social media, today’s young people understand how beautiful their country really is. In the old days, the young had simpler, more straightforward dreams, such as becoming a government employee or a businessman. But these days our young people have the privilege to have more dreams, and becoming a backpacker is definitely in the list.

Whether you’re more into beaches or mountains, this is the place to be. Beautiful beaches with nonstop summer sunlight are easy to find, in Sumatra, in Java, in Bali, in Borneo, in West Nusa Tenggara, in East Nusa Tenggara, in Sulawesi or in Papua. Indonesia is also home to 127 active volcanoes, each offers you with a picturesque scene.

Seriously, this place is so beautiful that I think God was too kind when He decided to create Indonesia.
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