Don’t Drink the Water

Jakarta - Colorful Canal (1)

Part of me is thinking, what was written on those t-shirts?  But then, I’m transported back to reality, where the more pivotal question – what color is that water? – eagerly awaits acknowledgement.

Some background:  While the Dutch were in control of what was then known as Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Jakarta, Indonesia), they built a complex system of canals and channels in the low-lying city to help manage annual floods.  Although the current situation is a disastrous one, that’s a story for another time.

On my usual wanderings throughout Jakarta, I’d pass by many a canal, ditch and open got (gutter).  During the rainy season, they’d introduce themselves to me too.  Jakarta, I hardly need to know you that well.  That particular canal, in the Karet neighborhood in the southern part of the city, proved to be a serendipitous shortcut on my walk back home.

Jakarta - Colorful Canal (2)

A week later, I walked by the same canal, albeit in a slightly different part of the neighborhood, and realized then and there that, if I was to get sick…no one should be surprised.  To think you had bad plumbing issues.  Maybe the Kappa had something to do with the red tint?

Can you see why some of us are so fond of Jakarta?

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3 comments on “Don’t Drink the Water

  1. Permen says:

    Jakarta is the best city you could ever dream of. NOT.

  2. Niko Kurniawan says:

    It is probably the red clothing dye. Karet (English translation: rubber) neighborhood was densely packed with rubber trees in the past. Thus making the geographical character uneven and it was hard to build a decent plumbing system. After people began settling in into the rubber forrest, they started Batik production factories over there. Now the law prohibits them to actually produce Batik there, only sewing the fabric to end product. However, there are still large Batik producers over there running an underground factory. These producers are more likely to dump Batik dyes into the canal because now there are no infrastructure to support a Batik factory there.

    Hope it helps!!

    source: engineering student, Jakarta native

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