Monday, 1 August 2022
Jakarta was no longer Betawi as something imagined by looking backwards. We cannot respond to it with fake nostalgia, for instance by changing street names to become ‘Betawi’. Because, from the start, Betawi was not ‘original’.
JAKARTA is not Betawi. The millions of people who have lived here for decades, like me, feel that this city is a world without origins. It grows, fast or slow, within me.
When I was nine in my hometown in north Central Java, I read Si Doel Anak Betawi. I found in the book not just a fascinating picture of kids my age, but also an introduction to their language, ‘Betawi’.
I absorbed that language quickly. To me it was jus...
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