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By The Way: Let’s try thinking positive in a very wet New Year

Aruna Harjani

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 17, 2020  /  02:50 pm
By The Way: Let’s try thinking positive in a very wet New Year

New Year 2020. (Shutterstock/-)

As another new year begins, many will be dutifully making resolutions with every intention to stick to them. But how many people can say they have stuck to them for more than a few weeks?

Each year, I get a sheet of paper and write down my list of dreams to achieve. I never see that sheet of paper again until the end of the year, when we start cleaning up to discard unwanted clutter.

This year, I did not need that sheet of paper because my New Year opened with a bang with these words: “think positive”, thanks to my child’s friend who reminded me of those words on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve, an overly hyped affair all over the world, drew me into the “action” by force this time around. My hubby and I had to succumb to our child's idea of having dinner with her at a restaurant. The package deal offered by the restaurant was dinner and free entrance to a separate open space for the countdown to 2020, which her friends had also booked. 

Two days before New Year's Eve, her friend called the management to confirm the weather report of rain. Since they booked an open air table , he wanted to check if there was a “plan B”. The sales director replied “think positive”, it would not rain. 

That same day, I passed through the Thamrin area in the heart of Jakarta and noticed the stage set up for New Year's Eve celebrations in different locations. I thought what a wonderful idea it was to have bands playing and fireworks coloring the skies to welcome in 2020. 

The clock struck 5 p.m. on New Year's Eve and as I was getting ready, I noticed a heavy downpour outside. There was only light traffic on the way to the restaurant, which is unusual for New Year's Eve.

My child's friend came up to me after our dinner and told me the open air table for the countdown wasn’t available yet due to the rain.

"I called the management today at 5 p.m., and reminded her that the sky was very dark already and the weather forecast said heavy rain. The lady in charge, despite the rain having already started falling as I spoke, again told me to 'think positive' that the rain would stop. Now it is raining heavily, two pawang (rain stoppers) were hired but nothing worked and we couldn't get the tables we paid for," he said.

Something crossed my mind as he told me this. Were the people attending NYE celebrations in Thamrin also told to “think positive” about the heavy downpour that night? Didn't anyone read the weather forecast beforehand? Why spend so much money for an open air event if the weather forecast said “rain”.

After arguing with the management, my kid and her friends did get 50 percent back from the full payment. I think finally the management's advice to “think positive” somehow worked.

But many people attended the party in Thamrin, and the rain did not stop till dawn. I wonder how they managed to reach home as many roads were inundated with water and Jakarta became a temporary lake. It took my friends a long time to reach home. Some of them returned to find their houses inundated with water. 

No one can fight nature, and definitely no one knows what will happen next. What we can do is check the weather forecast.

The year 2020 will be a memorable one for many of us, seeing how Jakarta was inundated with a more than usual amount of water, and at that point it’s very hard to "think positive".

For the first time in my life I saw cars being carried along by gushing water, ending up piled on top of each other. I saw videos of a crocodile found in the waters beside a house.

There were plenty of snakes, big and small, seen all over the city. Rats and cockroaches were in abundance. Jakarta turned into a water safari without the entrance ticket. 

I feel bad for the residents who had to be evacuated, losing their belongings and homes, some even losing their lives in the disaster.

My question is how educated are the people of Jakarta on how to prevent and deal with this annual problem. Personally, I think flood and waste management are interconnected although others may think differently. Well, if garbage is not an issue to be blamed for flooding, then what is, because it seems to be a serious problem.

At this point, how should I “'think positive” on issues of floods especially with the weather forecast predicting heavy rain? Maybe we can try hiring 50 rain-stoppers? Who knows, it might work. Think positive.

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