I refer to a letter written by Sjeline (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 23). I'm a maller, the kind that you despise. I'm also a bookworm. It's hard for me to find someone who shares passion for reading among my friends. But it's understandable.
Asians don't have a good reading tradition. Westernized intellectuals from China and India complained about this more than century ago. But I don't think it is fair to say that people who don't like to read are more virtuous than those who do.
I love to go to malls because unfortunately, in Indonesia, it is the safest place to socialize, to shop, and to walk. Not to mention to date. In Bandung there's no transit bus as in Jakarta, so I cannot comment, but I can certainly not relax and read a book while traveling on public transport here.
In malls I could. I love to read in a library but, of course, you know the state of libraries in Indonesia, and it's unrealistic to hope that the government will do something about it. The government here is not like in Singapore, where the National Library is like, well, a mall.
I know that Jakartans (and other cities' residents) can have many cars in their households because of vanity, but often it's also about necessity. It's a jungle out there and you know it. Places of worship like churches are crowded because they are places to socialize. I've tried to find friendship outside the church.
Nothing can beat it. You can't really blame people for going out. If they make the streets crowded with cars, again the main problems are road efficiency and the reputation of public transportation.
I often find myself angry at the situation in Indonesia. The most obvious solution, I've found, is to return to where I feel belong. In my case, it's Australia, and I think in your case, it's Europe. We were there and we can return there.
But Indonesia won't have great libraries, parks, and trams for at least another twenty years. In the meantime, if you are looking for another bookworm, you may find me on Facebook.