the cities within cities where the poor are invisible
Waleed Aly recently toured the Grand Indonesia Shopping Centre an enormous Jakarta mall owned by the billionaire Hartono brothers. While the streets are dangerous places with child beggars and bag snatchers, the malls have become the main public meeting place where the newly affluent flaunt wealth with private security guards and kitchens you can use to cook your groceries.
I’m a little bit disorientated.
A moment ago I thought I was in China. Then I thought I was under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. 1:1 replica handbags Then there was a fashion district from God knows where. I think I’ve wound up somewhere in a coffee shop in a place called the Grand Indonesia Shopping Centre, or Grandi fake designer bags , as the locals call it.
Malls are incredibly important places in Jakarta, and Melany Tedja louis vuitton copy bags uk , who is an environmental financial consultant, knows a lot about them, because, as she says, half her life is spent hanging out in malls. So when she says the first thing to do is take off your shoes, switching from high heels to flats, you’d better take her advice. And I did. I’m definitely wearing flats.
‘This mall is way too big,’ she says. ‘It’s insanely big. It’s basically a gym. People are going like, “Oh, in Melbourne we walk everywhere,” right? Here we take taxi, we take motor taxi. We never walk. But, there is a but: we walk a lot in the mall. So that’s why we have like better cardiovascular health. And I think that’s because of the mall.’
But this is about so much more than shopping and the appropriate footwear. The mall holds a central place in the society and social life of Jakarta.
‘I think in Melbourne for example you have lots of public parks,’ Melany says. ‘But in Indonesia it’s not [the case]. So after work you’re like “Let’s high quality designer replica handbags meet up.” “Where? Which mall?” What are the other options, you know?’
Malls have become the public meeting replica louis vuitton places of choice for three main reasons. Firstly, they’re air conditioned, or at least not as humid as outside. But then it gets interesting. For the middle classes, malls are contained areas full of shoppers on the same class rung. While Indonesia has a big (and growing) middle class, it’s still aaa replica designer handbags not uncommon to see children begging on the street.
‘You’re going to see child labour and it’s pretty hard to see, so you have a lot of guilt complex,’ Melany tells me. ‘This is an isolated area where everyone’s basically middle class just like you are. So you can wear clothes without feeling guilty. You can look nice and buy expensive food.’
The third issue is security. Jakarta is quite an unsafe city, Melany tells me. high quality designer replica handbags wholesale Local law enforcement is ‘pretty poor’. ‘People have very little faith in the police,’ she says. ‘So being on the street you literally have to hold on to your bags all the time. It becomes a place where you can’t walk around freely like the street in Melbourne. It is pretty sad.’
The way she describes them, Jakarta’s malls sound like isolated, sterile cities within a city. And indeed, high quality replica handbags china the malls are at odds with the rest of the city in telling ways. Jakarta is one of the very few cities in the world to boast two Louis Vuitton stores less than 100 metres apart. But who shops there when the cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk average wage is only AUD 200 a month?
‘I think here we have a lot of oligarchy,’ explains Melany. ‘Like with Occupy Wall Street one percent controls all of the world. And in Asia it’s more like families. There’s lots of families in Asia that own [a] political party, media company, energy company, food and beverages company as well as the biggest tobacco company.’
And it’s these powerful families that are setting up these malls. Grandi is owned by the Hartono brothers Michael and Robert who also own the Djarum cigarette brand and control Bank Central Asia, Indonesia’s biggest private bank. Together Forbes estimate the brothers are worth around USD 16.7bn as of March 2013. She says the brothers are also running concerts as well dolabuy , and are bringing Katy Perry on tour. ‘So it’s really hard to hate them,’ she says.
The mall, then, is an institution that provides social spaces for people and plays a really important social function on the one hand, but then on the other hand symbolises everything that is problematic about society in Jakarta. And regardless of what you think of them, the traffic in this city makes it so hard to get home that residents have few other options but to use the malls.
‘If you go home at around 6 o’clock it’s going to take you two and a half hours to three hours to get back at home,’ says Melany. ‘But if you go home at like nine o’clock or ten o’clock at night it’s going to take you like one hour or half an hour.’ After work people come and mill about in the food hall kitchens a fusion of restaurant and supermarket. You can do your grocery shopping and then pay extra for the kitchen to cook some of it for you for dinner. Malls also tend high quality designer replica handbags to stratify in terms of the clientele they attract there are fake louis bag hipster malls and malls just for ethnic Chinese, Melany says.
These interior metropolises live up to their reputation in terms of energy usage as well. Melany says one mall the size of Grandi uses the same electricity as two cities in replica louis vuitton handbags another part of Java. Bear in mind also that only 74% of Indonesia is considered ‘electrified’ and even that number is probably inflated because of the way those statistics are calculated. There is a glaring social injustice in these numbers, which is possibly why some malls have started to embrace ‘going green’.
However, a recent experience consulting for one of Indonesia’s regional malls that wanted to ‘go green’ showed Melany there is a long way to go.’Because I’m an environmental consultant I was asking: “what do you mean with go green?” And they were like: “oh, we’re putting Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags some plants in here”. I have two problems with that. Having more plants does not mean you “go green”. But there’s a bigger problem.’.