Just for Show
The Jakarta Post | Tue, 07/29/2008 2:07 PM |
Jakarta, a city of contrasts, throws up bizarrely paradoxical experiences all in the space of a few hours. Last month, in the middle of the afternoon, I was caught in a very vociferous protest on Jl. Sudirman organized by some of those euphemistically named “social organizations”. It was not for the faint-hearted; I bailed out of my taxi and headed to the refuge of a hotel across the street.
That evening, I was caught up in the free flow and canapes of a glitzy fashion show, where the city’s very well-heeled turned out to see what designs passed inspection for their closets. Interesting on a number of levels as well, such events also bring their own fears: of making the grade in society, of passing muster, of not putting a finely outfitted foot wrong, of measuring up in the fashion stakes.
Jakarta society, at least part of it, is the subject of our cover story. The stereotypes of the idol rich abound, and they are an easy target for the cynics. Many do their part for society’s less fortunate even while living the good life. But it also can be said that in recent years, after the more conservative time that briefly followed reformasi, some have embraced excess with a vengeance.
As I headed home after the fashion show and thought about the day’s experiences, it struck me that both groups that I encountered shared similarities. All of us dress ourselves up in the uniform that gives us a sense of belonging, and faithfully go along with the crowd. It’s very difficult, perhaps impossible, for most of us to let our masks down and just be ourselves. If only we could.