There’s No Place Like Home

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For 30-40 dollars a month Sunita rents a small dark and airless room crammed in amongst dozens of others underneath a highway bridge in central Jakarta.  Many of her neighbors have been living there for nearly 10 years, and many work for the city government as street sweepers.  Several months ago they were told that they would have to leave, though most cannot afford the 70-80 dollars/month or more it would cost for a small and cheap but legitimate apartment.  Just a few days ago all of the residents under the bridge were evicted and their makeshift housing destroyed.  It’s a never ending struggle. Thousands of impoverished Indonesians come to the capital every year to find opportunities that don’t exist in their home towns where farming is generally the only way to scratch out a living.  But, Jakarta itself isn’t prepared for the onslaught and arrivals from the country often have to make do with whatever shelter they can scrounge up in unused public spaces alongside railroads and rivers and under bridges. The clash between the need to clean up Jakarta’s perennially flooded infrastructure and the shortage of low cost housing results in those with the least resources getting shuttled from one inadequate housing situation to another.

The Tenggerese


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I grew up in a mountain area and so have always loved mountains. The quiet, the cold, the solitude, being so close to the clouds has always left me feeling good, so I was really glad to have taken a quick trip to the Bromo volcano and come across the Tenggerese people who live there, up among the cloud banks coming up from the valley and the sulphurous smoke from the Bromo volcano in East Java.  They are living history,  the remaining descendants of the once wealthy and influential  Majapahit kingdom.  It was the last Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom before the rise of the Muslim Sultanates which pushed the Majapahit East from Central Java in the 15th century, the majority of the royal court, courtiers, artists fleeing to Bali.