Jakarta is home to numerous luxurious malls, but these mega shopping centers often gloss over the extreme economic inequality in the capital, as one photo has painfully reminded us.
Priyombodo, a photojournalist from Kompas newspaper, recently posted his snap of young children playing in a stream of water that flows in front of Plaza Indonesia, Central Jakarta on Instagram.
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“Jakarta Selow (slow) – an urban reality when city kids play in the stream right in front of a shopping mall in the heart of the capital in the Hotel Indonesia roundabout area, Saturday (April 3, 2021),” the caption reads.
The striking photo showcases two worlds colliding — the composition of which makes the stark contrast between the luxury mall and the everyday reality outside of it even more visible.
Priyombodo’s photo quickly gained traction online, and has notably been reposted by lifestyle portals Folkative and USS Feed on Instagram. While Folkative settled on “A photo that speaks a thousand words” for the caption, USS Feed initially wrote, “The reality behind life in the metropolitan, showing that happiness depends on how you make of it,” before editing it to merely “Caption this” — the latter of which came after netizens accused them of insensitivity.
While many netizens pointed out the obvious disparity, there were also a handful of others who romanticized this disturbing reality by writing fake deep comments, such as “happiness is a state of mind” and “maybe the ones who are truly happy are [the children] outside the mall rather than [the people] inside.”
Whatever one’s take is, the photo, as it is, inarguably showed the lack of safe public spaces for many children in Jakarta.
Extreme inequality is certainly nothing new in Jakarta, and even our leaders have admitted as much.
“If we want to see extreme poverty, no need to travel further, come to Jakarta. You want to see extreme wealth? No need to travel further, come to Jakarta. Both extreme ends exist here,” Governor Anies Baswedan famously said in 2018.