Bruce Emond, WEEKENDER | Tue, 04/03/2012 2:54 PM |
I first took up residence in Jakarta in September 1991, after falling in love with the country five years before as a high school exchange student in West Sumatra and later as a university student in Malang, East Java. I remember that time when we looked to Bangkok as a city with a traffic problem, when Kuningan was in transition from a dairy farming area to a diplomatic belt and when the club and dining scenes were very limited (hotels were still the places to go).
Much has changed during my 20-year residence – the fall of the New Order regime, the advent of democracy Indonesian-style, the rise of the consumerist urban middle class. Some developments have been for the better, but sometimes I think a little wistfully about the way things used to be (which would be before the traffic jam morass).
Two very positive developments have been the rise of Indonesian fashion – now commanding a mainstream appeal – and the growth of the F&B industry. Local designers are showing their talents to the world, including through Jakarta Fashion Week at year’s end and the recent Indonesia Fashion Week. And Jakarta is now one of the most exciting cities in the region for its dining and clubbing offerings, which include not only international cuisine but also an increasing appreciation of local fare.
Let’s savor the moment as Jakarta’s fashion and food talents find their proper place. And certainly, let’s make the most of the dynamic qualities of living in Indonesia, for me still the most interesting and hospitable nation in the world.