The number of high-end night clubs, restaurants, and shopping centers in Jakarta - like the one pictured here with a 7-story slide cascading through it - never cease to amaze me. Prices are high, even by Western standards. But that is only part of the story. Other realities co-exist, like that of a 66-year old man who was recently interviewed by the local paper.
Joyosudarmo is a tukang ojek - or bicycle taxi - driver, and he spends from 6 am to 4 pm everyday serving customers, for which he earns between $3 to $5 per day. When asked when he planned to retire, the dignified man said, "As long as I have the strength to pedal my bike, I will work. I do not want to be a burden to anyone."
If you care to look, disparity here stands out in stark contrasts. It torments me because I know that I don't really understand - or fully appreciate - the nuanced lives of people in this country. I don't know in which ways I need to change my own life - and the choices that I make on a daily basis - to have more of an impact on bridging the enormous gulfs that I see. But I can say, that it is increasingly difficult to enter one of the chic establishments here without being painfully aware of what it would take for a bicycle taxi driver or many of the other 250 million people in this country to earn what I could so easily spend on that night's meal or entertainment. And I do know, that somehow I have to align more of my life with that awareness.