A Quiet Chaos

I stood, watching the economy class train pull up to the Pondok Cina station. Ugg, my stomach dropped way down. Are ALL those people going to downtown Jakarta? Heads and limbs, entire bodies  hung out the windows and doors, people seemed to pop out onto the platform as many others pushed and shoved to get into the rolling box. Oi. I gulped, clutched my shoulder bag, and plunged in. The first thing I notice, as the train rocks forward again away from Depok, is how incredibly quiet it is. There is an air of eternal patience, and unspoken understanding that we are all crammed into this hot and stinky metal box,  and there is just no point in any of us getting pissed off because we’re all suffering through it to get where we need to go. There is an immense civility, yet just under the surface hangs a tension, a feeling that while everyone makes room for everyone, when it comes down to it, the only person that is going to give a damn about you is you. Of course this is simply a first impression. I look forward to delving deeper into the Indonesian psyche. Solidarity with the people, ya!

I made it to Jakarta, and my friend Suroto brought me around to several NGO offices. He is involved in the youth and cooperative movements. I had a long discussion with an 80 year old Javanese man, the founder of the largest organization of credit unions in Indon. What those eyes have seen through an incredibly turbulent century of political activism.

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