Jakarta and the Great Gatsby



May 2013 is one fine year for movie lovers. But out of all the movies i seen this year, perhaps the Great Gatsby leaves me most impressed.

New York of the 1930s, the stocks has never been higher, the party were bigger, and the morals were looser. Then at the end of the movie, when all was revealed, it was so poignant. Vast wealth, but empty homes and empty heart. It was all for naught.

Cant say the New York of the 30s didnt remind me of the Jakarta of today. Stocks hit all time high, the party were bigger, and cheap thrills were to be found in almost every corner you look. The city of stark contrast, the buildings have never been taller, grander, and the slums just like they had always been, brown, dirty and polluted.

Then Gatsby spoke, “it was always about money doesn’t it. You have it, I have it, we are equal now.”

Those words never rang closer to home. In a country with distinct lack of social safety nets, money is everything. Money bought you connections, it bought you privileges, it bought you education, and it bought you life. Everything else is just noise.

Seems like people are lost in this world. Where are the characters? Where are the integrity? I couldn’t find it, I couldn’t see it, I never heard about it.

“Integrity you say, what does integrity buy me anyway?” That seem to be the byword of every self-respecting businessmen in town.

For all the advances we have achieved in this world, we seem to have progressed no further than the medieval ages. Kings of empire married their daughter to princes from another empire. All convenient marriages, all for the glory of the empire. Landlords ruled the land, and serfs work tirelessly, endlessly, again for the glory of these empires.

It all became very confusing when religious leaders in the city preach in their great cathedral with the finest chair, the finest equipment, an almost ostentatious statement of wealth, in a city with such wide chasm. The tycoons, proclaiming their religion on the media, but living in a mansion on a secluded island with 16 bedrooms, yet some of the richest men in the world, who are agnostic, lived in such modesty and pledged to give 99% of their wealth away.

What is this madness? I couldn’t make sense of it. It never made sense, and perhaps never will.

At the end of it, this is the golden mirage, and I will perhaps woke up one day and found it disgusting.

But until then, I am ashamed that I have joined in this madness.



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