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Jakarta Outside the Box


A few rapidly digested thoughts on Jakarta.

We heard about the disturbance in Jakarta about 30 minutes after the initial blast.


We check on each other.  We check on the kids who are, chronologically, an hour or so away.  The school is locked down.  We are locked down for an undetermined amount of time. The emails and notifications fly out into the world. It is so wonderful to feel loved, but if we aren’t quick all our phones will be chirping up a storm and we’ve got work to do.


It is now that we start to think about all those warnings we had to have a change of clothes and some toiletries at work and maybe some snacks for just such an emergency. We received word that the convenience store downstairs was closing early despite hundreds of hungry, captive workers promising a banner day. Note to self, cache some snacks.


It’s a surreal experience.  I know exactly where everything is taking place.  I pass by there twice a day. If not for the large bank building across the street, I might even be able to see what’s going on. But on TV, on CNN or the BBC or whomever, the booms and the puffs of smoke look so far away. Signals beamed up to space and down to London or Atlanta and then back to space and down to a local station and then to us.  The images from down the street have traveled a million miles to come a ten minutes walk away.


And that distance makes things more frightening.  I realized that I was much more frightened hearing the Paris attacks. Then, worried about loved ones, I hung on quick reaction news reports and tweets and my own imagination painted the worst of scenarios. Here in the initial hour or two there were tweets and numerous false reports of explosions throughout the city. It was remarkable to see how quickly rumors spread when we all have a node in our hand.


I ducked down the street for a meeting. The streets are quiet with far less traffic, but otherwise it is a regular day.  Partly cloudy and 88 degrees.  Just like every other day.  There are more police out. Bigger guns. But, the drink sellers and drivers are still out roaming the streets or sitting in the shade conversing quietly with each other.  If you didn’t see the TV, you’d think it was just a quiet afternoon.


Inside the box of a TV screen  it was Armageddon. Jakarta was rocked by terror, but was “rocked” the right word?  Yes, it looked tense and tragic at moments. Gruesome images and loops of any semblance of activity.  

But, just outside the box this was happening.  Leave it to the Indonesians to bring satay and mangoes to a gunfight. 

This guy is selling Satay 100 yds away. He’s been selling for
40 years. 

This was captioned locally as “When you’re
going to stop a terrorist, but damn, that mango
is dope!”


Perhaps,“rocked” wasn’t the right word, but “startled” rather. Or, “unnerved”?

One day later, the debris was swept and the stains were all scrubbed.  The damaged Police outpost is boarded up with pictures of flowers and butterflies.  Talking heads coif their talking hair and check their talking teeth in the side mirrors of the myriad news vans parked at the site. Waiting for something to happen. 

Traffic slows now for them. The rest of us clot to get by and move on down the road.

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