POST C: Living rural and city lives – Alexander and Marta born and raised in Indonesia

Upon searching for people to interview I posted a facebook status asking if anyone had any family or friends from Indonesia. Anyone who lived or worked there, who was born there and then moved here. I thought it was going to be a desperate plea for help – alas, more than 10 people contacted me immediately with people they know, telephone numbers where given, email addresses. It became apparent to me just how connected to Indonesia we truly are.

Photo of Marta supplied by her I first interviewed a friend of a friend’s wife – Marta, who was eager to answer some questions. Born in Jakarta 44 years ago, she moved to and from Australia throughout her life for study and work, always going back to one another. I was curious to find out how she found our societies different. Living in Bogor from 1979-1993, Marta commuted to Jakarta for more than a year and then decided to move there because the commute was far too long and busy. Living in a share house in Jakarta, Marta had a cleaner that collected their rubbish bins and took them to the outdoor rubbish bins – similar to our process in Sydney for some – however she did comment on the pollution in the waterways and rivers, where people readily threw there rubbish and waste.

“Everywhere you walk on the street in Jakarta you will see people littering even when there are rubbish bins nearby.” – Marta

She also commented on her town Bogor and their lack of recycling as a difference, as there was one bin for all products. Marta worked in the city of Jakarta as a consultant in a Tax and Accounting Firm and enjoyed this job because she could apply her studies from the University of Sydney into practice. I was interested to see how this differed from her parents, who grew up in North Sumatra, living in a village and growing their own food.

Image given to me by Marta as an example of the local water source her parents used in their community.
Image given to me by Marta as an example of the local water source her parents used in their community.

There wasn’t so much of a waste problem because they lived more naturally than the urban areas of Jakarta – which are polluted with branded and packaged waste. Rural villages often have organic waste they put in a little hole and burn down – having no regular rubbish collectors. A reoccurring theme of my interview with Marta was her comments on the inequality of Indonesia, with rich and poor being the only two classes of people – there is no in-between. Growing up in Australia I can’t imagine there being no middle class, someone who can survive in some aspects of both socioeconomic groups, and this was very surprising to me.

Part map of Indonesia, Klaten - Alexander's home town pictured in the centre
Part map of Indonesia, Klaten – Alexander’s home town pictured in the centre

Contrary to the first interview I conducted with Marta, the second interview I took with Alexander, a 20 year old student and part time marketing manager. Alex grew up in Klaten – an hour away from Yogyakarta, a ‘rather small town’, where his father also grew up. He commented that growing up in Klaten has kept him grounded throughout his big moves throughout his life to bigger and more urbanised cities (moving to Singapore in 2006 and then to Sydney in 2011). “The community was 70-30 mix of Indigenous Javanese and Indonesian Chinese. I still visit home at least twice every year and development is quite stagnant” Alex also commented on the rivers being polluted with waste, which is a common habit in Indonesia. He also stated that growing up in Indonesia there was no concept of ‘environmentalism’, these issues weren’t talked about or a large concern in his community, now moving from there to Singapore, then Australia and learning more on the topic the exposure to environmental concerns has caused him to be more conscious.

Alexander as a young child in Indonesia - supplied by him and used with permission.
Alexander as a young child in Indonesia – supplied by him and used with permission.

“I grew up in very safe and simple surroundings that gives me the motivation to stay grounded no matter where I am in life.” – Alexander Enrico, 20


– Interview conducted by Keil B. with Enrico A. and *** M. (2015) Growing up in Indonesia.

–, (n.d.). Klaten Location Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

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