Wednesday 5 January 2022


The Jakarta Kid, Min.


Seated on the pavement in front of the flea-pit cinema, in a state of utter dejection, was a young boy. 

He was barefoot and dressed in a dirty ragged shirt and long trousers several sizes too big. He was moving his head from side to side like a depressed young panda in a zoo. 

At his feet were a few scraps of cooked rice on a  crumpled piece of brown paper. Was he twelve years old? Difficult to tell as he was so undernourished.

 “What’s your name?” I asked him in Indonesian. 

There was no reply; he avoided eye contact. I asked a few more questions but got no answers. I stood back. Passers-by ignored him, or, in the case of three well-dressed young men, mocked him with jeers and insults.

The cinema.

At one point he stood up, a little shakily, and walked to a stall selling drinks. He held his head high, and, in a surprisingly insistent manner, held out his hand to demand a drink. The young stall holder, no trace of emotion on his face, handed the boy a glass of coloured liquid. The boy drank thirstily before returning to his patch of pavement. 

What was I to do? The lad seemed like a hopeless case.

But let me begin at the beginning, back in the year 1990.


Why would someone give up a well-paid teaching job at a private school in London and go to live in the faraway city of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia? 

Well, there was this edition of the National Geographic in which Indonesia looked so strangely, wildly beautiful. 

It was a land of erect blue volcanoes, exotic mosques, dark tropical skies and beautiful, uninhibited people; it was just the place for a not totally young, unattached chap like me who was tired of London and severely sick of some of his students. 

To teach bolshy Brits, as opposed to respectful Asians, you need an unreasonable amount of stamina and tea. There are, in theory, hours and hours of preparation and each and every lesson you’re supposed to enthuse these prickly gum-chewing teens. It’s like appearing live on TV seven times a day with a different script each time. I had fallen out of love with some of my audience (or vice versa), had secret self-doubts, and needed to appear on a different stage. I needed something to cure my neurosis.

There was an advert in the Times Educational Supplement for a teacher of English and Humanities at a school in Jakarta. I would not, under normal circumstances, have thought of applying. There would be hundreds of applicants and they would all be fantastically beautiful twenty-something-year-olds with doctorates from Cambridge. 

But I was desperate to get out of Britain. I applied and in some mysterious way I knew I was going to get to Indonesia; it was somehow ordained; maybe it was something to do with the fact that my interview was at 9 am on the ninth day of the month and it was 1990. But I don’t want to appear superstitious.


The interview, in a swanky London club, went well. I had had an expensive haircut and was wearing my Austin Reed suit. The Headmaster, tall, sun-tanned, in his late thirties, showed me pictures of the visit of a princess to his school and I said all the right things about his interests in jogging and art. I got the job. Fantastic! 

Of course I began to worry about amoebas, hookworm, enteric parasites, giant leaping tree snakes, the sixteen hour flight and all the air turbulence that could be packed into such a journey. However, I was off to Java for adventure and discovery, for a chance to find a soul mate, and for an opportunity to help some waifs and strays.

Adventure and discovery? I wanted to lose myself in a distant Third World country and discover the answer to some of life’s big questions. I wanted to wander through shanty towns and rain forests and learn about animism and Islam.

Bogor, near Jakarta.

Love? I was sometimes a bit of a fidgety loner and needed a soul mate, a fellow alien, someone I could be deeply attached to. And sometimes in my dreams there was a misty vision of a  lost and lonely figure in a city that was a port. Could that be someone I was going to meet in Jakarta? 

Waifs and strays? It was time I tried to do something useful. I had had a Sunday-school upbringing which had emphasised the gentler, kinder side of religion; the heroes had been people like The Good Samaritan and David Livingstone. I belonged to no church but felt that life was not simply an accident. I believed that there was a bit of Mother Teresa, a bit of Casanova and a bit of Hitler in each and all of us; we had to choose who to be; we reaped what we sowed. Could a discontented devil like me do any genuine good?   


Waifs and strays, and romance and adventure, I had come across during brief holiday trips to such places as Bombay, Bangkok, and Margate.

 At Bombay’s Victoria terminus railway station, I had seen a boy with pencil limbs and half blind pearly eyes. He had been too weak to stand up. I had stuffed some money and some vitamin tablets into his mother’s hands and then guiltily rushed off to catch the train to Delhi. The boy had smiled. I should have taken him to hospital, but I didn’t.

I remembered a garden party in Rio de Janeiro when I had asked a vicar how I might help some of the poor people of the favelas. “It’s difficult when you’re only here for three days holiday,” he had said. “A child with TB needs help over many months. Why not get a teaching job in a Third World country and then help these people in your spare time?” I had liked the sound of that, but, for many years I had put off making the move. I could be a highly nervous, windy character. 

Near Jakarta.

I had needed to be pushed by circumstances. My ennui with London meant that now I was off to the “Big Mango”, the “City of Drains” and the “Queen of the East.” Perhaps some valium? 

“I’m going to live in Jakarta,” I told Richard, one of my neighbours who used to travel a lot on business. “Have you been there?”

“Yes. It’s filthy. Rubbish everywhere. Dirtiest place I’ve ever seen. A horrible police state. You’ll hate it.”

But I knew I was not going to hate it! I was going to be living on Java, Indonesia’s main island, a Garden of Eden, described by one writer as the most beautiful tropical island on Earth. And I had a teaching contract that promised me free medical insurance, a rent-free house, free electricity, a maid, a car, and even a driver. I couldn’t wait to get my packing done, say my goodbyes, and head to Heathrow. 


My blog entitled Jakarta Kid got removed by Blogger.

So this is it on Aangirfan.

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At 6 January 2022 at 03:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a copy of the entire old blog in a personal HD

At 6 January 2022 at 03:21 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The deleted 'Jakarta Kid' can still be viewed here via the Wayback Machine:

At 6 January 2022 at 03:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indonesian parliamentarians are worried that the money donated to the quake victims may fall into corrupt hands.

In Aceh, the activities of the military and rampant corruption have driven more than 40% of the population into extreme poverty.

Indonesia is among the most corrupt countries in the world according to Berlin-based Transparency International but the situation in Aceh is particularly bad.

During the year-long military operation begun in May 2003, the central government allocated $447.7 million – roughly three times larger than the provincial government’s budget – to military operations intended to crush the separatists. Of the total, $291 million was reported missing by a government-appointed auditor team
"It’s the ninjas," I explained.


"Mysterious deaths in East Java. Have you seen the Jakarta Post stories about the murders of over a hundred people? Murders by black-clad figures dressed as Ninjas. Villagers have set up vigilante patrols to protect themselves."

"I remember reading about that. Someone was killing village witch doctors. It’s what happens when there’s political turbulence. You get this kind of paranoia. Some villager imagines seeing Ninjas. Vigilante patrols are set up and they end up killing innocent people."

"It isn’t just dukuns getting killed. It’s Moslem preachers and mentally backward youths. Mental patients have been dumped in villages. Along come the village vigilantes. They think the mentally backward youths are Ninjas. The youths get their heads chopped off. The heads are paraded on poles. It’s a psychological warfare operation."

"Run by Ninjas?"

"The Kopassus regiment, the army’s special forces, have used Ninjas in East Timor. They dress their people up in black costumes. They try to terrify people in order to control them. Some of the Ninjas are said to have arrived in villages in trucks. Bodies have been chopped up and bits of bodies have been chucked into mosques. Sounds like a black-op."


Peter Dale Scott has written about the Ninjas at -

"The U.S.-trained Kopassus Special Forces were the preferred assets of the CIA and Pentagon."


During the Reagan administration, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz served for three years as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia


In Indonesia, in 1998, students who were opposed to the military were 'disappeared'.

According to journalist Allan Nairn, "General Prabowo's units that participated in the disappearances - particularly KOPASSUS Group 4, which U.S. officials singled out for blame in the Post - were, from the start of the abductions, in close and friendly liaison with U.S. intelligence. Reached at his Jakarta home the night after Prabowowas replaced, Colonel Chaiwaran, the Group 4 commander, confirmed to me that he deals with Col. Charles McFetridge, the DefenseIntelligence Agency (D.I.A.) attache at the U.S. Embassy, with whom, he said, he speaks in Indonesian... ABRI people say he has said that Group 4's men have been trained by U.S.intelligence, a claim that U.S. officials privately confirm."

At 6 January 2022 at 04:12 , Blogger Henk Madrotter said...

That's just weird.... There wasn't anything about (recent covid related) conspiracies or what ever there right? Why would they remove it???

At 6 January 2022 at 04:14 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 6 January 2022 at 04:33 , Blogger Anon said...

WONDERFUL! You are very kind. I will make use of this!

At 6 January 2022 at 05:29 , Blogger Henk Madrotter said...

I remember the "ninja killings" very well and it wasn't just in East Java.... I had a Dutch friend living in Pangandaran at the South Coast of West Java at the time... One day he was driving his car just outside Pangandaran and he drove under a huge tree that was full with body parts, some hit his windshield which was all bloodied up.... In Green Canyon, a tourist place outside Pangandaran body parts started showing up, arms, legs, trunks, they came by river from Ciamis.... My friend also showed my a street, again outside Pangandaran. There wasn't much to see, just the foundations of old houses. He told me it used to be a street where all the houses were full of hookers and their pimps, all small cafe's... One day a group of men showed up and they killed everybody there, in very cruel ways, removal of eyes, cutting off breasts and everybody had their throats cut and then they burned all the houses and bodies.... This is very early 2000's.... '98 Was insane, the riots in Jakarta, and I was in the middle of them, had a planned vacation to Holland right on the day that all hell broke loose, got stuck in a huge demonstration at the toll road to the airport, people started smashing in the windows to get at me and only the quick thinking of the taxi driver who told me to hide under a blanket and who managed to get away saved me... He brought me all the way back to Bandung and at home at night we saw what was happening in Jakarta on tv. Pandemonium, the city on fire, the airport was madness, full with Chinese Indonesians trying to get the hell out offering huge amounts of money for a ticket out, to anywhere, the anti Chinese pogroms were in full swing, nobody knows how many got murdered, raped, burned alive during those days.... Next morning, I wanted to try again to reach the airport, in hind sight a very very stupid thing to do.... I took the train again from Bandung to Jakarta, an English couple with a very young daughter, maybe four years old, was sitting in front of me... I saw them later again, on tv, being dragged out of a taxi, the guy was beaten mercilessly and they were robbed... But anyway, the train stopped at Purwakarta, couldn't continue because the whole station was on fire.... After a while buses came and took us all the way to Gambir train station in Jakarta, it was night, dark, I decided to try and reach Jalan Jaksa, the street where all the backpacker hotels were back then and I walked, and walked and all I saw was buildings on fire, groups of people running around, soldiers with tanks, shouting at me that I was crazy, a bule alone on the streets.... At Jalan Jaksa everything was closed, everything was boarded up... What to do? I saw a taxi and I got in. The driver was a giant with a huge afro, at least 300 pounds, a lot like Andre the Giant and he was driving and after a while I realized that he was driving the wrong way, I got really worried, scared even, and we were talking, he in broken English me in broken Indonesian and at a certain point I said "Alhamdulillah" and he just stopped the car... "Are you a Muslim????" Yes, I am a Muslim (I had converted and the whole circumcision thing two years earlier, another VERY crazy story but ok) and he just hugged me and said "you are my brother!!!! I will bring you to the airport!!!!" and he turned around the taxi and brought me to the airport.... At the airport everything was dead. Not a soul, nothing, which was really weird after seeing the pandemonium the night before on tv, and I easily got a flight to Holland... The plan was to stay around 6 weeks there but I was back in Indonesia in less then two weeks :) Amazing times :)

At 6 January 2022 at 11:11 , Blogger Anon said...

MI6 protected us in Jakarta, telling us to stay indoors on the day of the big riots. The CIA and its friends are said to have organised the destabilisation. The key Indonesian generals apparently work for the CIA . And the key generals reportedly run the militant Moslems and the gangsters.


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