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...