Jakarta has gone a long way since my first visit here 32 years ago. Here I had my very first encounter with real poverty and desperation: I still remember I cried seeing children searching for food in the rubbish mountains left in the very center of the city; entire families living in cartoon boxes on every sidewalk; people washing dishes and themselves in the very same putrid water of the canals where another desperate was defecating half meter away..
I came several times after that. In the 90s poverty had already moved out of the center: there are over 18 millions people living in the metropolitan area today. God knows how.
Jakarta has become an archipelago: high-rise buildings, compounds of wealth, are floating in a sea of settled humanity. We are here to tell the bright side of this story: very wealthy people driving their suvs in streets that are clogged with traffic that are no conceived for walking. Walking is actually impossible, most of the time. The success of Indonesia is obvious: rich in natural resources and with a huge population spread on a large area, the country likes to be considered the Brazil of Asia and wants to join the small group of new economical powers. This is quite possible, but comes with the same problem Brazil has to face... Outside the Dragonfly disco, where the powerful pay 300$ for a bottle of Champagne, you can still find desperate faces. And at the feet of the brand new Bakrie Tower (a new landmark skyscraper erected by the tycoon Mr Bakrie) people are still sleeping on the sidewalk.
Real progress is reducing differences: if you don't accept this and work for it you are bound for trouble. We are bound for trouble...