Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clothes as Art:Fit for a Queen, Made by Street Kids

Who would have thought that hidden away, just down the block from local food stands, would be a mansion museum displaying the wearable art of Harry Darsono. Reputedly Indonesia’s only haut couture designer, Harry has made, sold, and bought back dresses created for Princess Diana, Queen Rania of Jordan, and a host of other royals. Although he was born into a wealthy Indonesian family, Harry caused quite a stir in his youth because his dyslexia and ADHD left him hyperactive and violent. It was only when his spirit was calmed through a deep fascination with a spinning wheel that his true brilliance shone through. Since then, Harry has shown his genius in art, couture, and music. But, he insists that there is no such thing as talent, just dedication and determination. His designs require enormous focus, many of them are hand-made from literally millions of individually tied knots. One of his floor length skirts is woven entirely from threads made of gold. With the same enthusiasm that he brings to his art, Harry has started a foundation that has established hundreds of “transition houses” across Indonesia. These homes have provided more than 4,500 youth - often street kids - who have the same psychological and learning problems Harry encountered early in life with the focus and skills they need to transform their lives. There is no doubt that Harry knows and loves many of these children on a personal level, and that this is his finest work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jakarta Landlords are Very Spoiled

Finding a place to live in Jakarata is not an easy task for expats. Most landlords are very spoiled and will not rent their apartments or flats for less than 2 to 3 years. And not only that, they expect payments many months in advance. For those like me, who are here less than a year, the best option is a furnished, serviced apartment. For convenience sake, I opted for the residences in the Ritz Carlton Hotel and shopping complex - right across from my office. Perched here on the 31st floor, I have a dazzling view and everything I need at my fingertips. There is even a spa on the premises - and a morning yoga class! The rainy season, which runs from November through March, is starting. And when it rains, traffic comes to a crawl as streets flood and people rush to get home. A 10 minute drive can turn into an hour-long ordeal. But not for me. I just pop through the underground tunnel connecting the Ritz to the Jakarta Stock Exchange, and I am in my office in less than 5 minutes guaranteed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet Home Obama Bar

According to the Jakarta Post, the two home compound where Barack Obama lived from the ages of 9 to 11, may be up for sale. Currently valued at $3 million, there have supposedly been offers of five times that much - assuming Senator Obama becomes President on November 4th. One prospective buyer wants to turn the premises into a cafe that serves an "Obama-blend coffee," a mix of beans from Kenya and Java and "stroopwafels," a caramel-type treat brought to Indonesia by the Dutch while they were occupying the country. Now that is a place that I would like to go and hang out in the future.