Friday, July 10, 2009

Disgusting Situations

Palembang is really a place that generates a lot of mixed emotions in me. On the one hand, I find it very affordable to live here. Not only are everyday grocery items cheap, my weekly foot reflexology only costs USD 6. If you're not too fussy, clothing and shoes are also very affordable. Naturally, I get really happy when I find bargains while out shopping or having my foot massaged.

Undoubtedly, there is a huge gap between the rich and poor in Palembang and this is clearly visible just driving around the city. A very common conversation in our household is about how much money the majority of the population here earns and how they still survive. Not only do they survive, I often find them to be very jovial, sincere and open. These people often have such heavy financial burdens with households that include their parents and children to support. I've mentioned before that I initially felt some sort of pity for these people but have since grown to realize that it was too insulting to the people to feel that way. They are a proud people, work hard and survive. I've grown to admire them instead.

Every so often, I come across a situation that I now start to term as "disgusting".

Today, I went with a friend to look at a house he was thinking of renting. It is on the outskirts of some housing area and therefore, next to swamp lands. All I can think about was the snakes and mosquitoes that would be visiting. Here are a few photos of the house itself. (No, nothing disgusting about these photos.)

The house is going to be rented out "as is" and the landlord will not be chipping in to to make the place any more livable.

Alright, here is the "disgusting" situation that I mentioned. They're all variations of how some people spend money in comparison to the annual rental for the above house. By the way, the rent will undoubtedly burden my friend heavily because he needs to come up with the entire year's rent within the next couple of weeks. Rental here is paid a year in advance.

The yearly rent for our house would be able to pay for 12 years of rent for that house above.

Also, Richard told me that when his boss came, he stayed at the penthouse of Novotel for one night. That one night would have been able to pay 3.2 years of rent for that house. Imagine night!

Richard's boss' wife did some shopping while here. She bought some beautiful batik and that cost about 1.6 years of rent.

I know that there are plenty of people in the world far richer than the majority of the world's population and they too have a right to spend their hard earned money in whatever way they choose. But, sometimes, the difference between how the money is spent is just so way off that my limited vocabulary just keeps spitting out "disgusting".


Bilbo said...

It's interesting to see how people in various cultures look at the relative cost of things. Many years ago (about 1981 or so) I hosted a young Polish fellow at my apartment in Berlin. He was new to the Capitalist West, and was admiring my stereo. An American might have asked, "how much did you pay for that?" My guest's question was, "how long did you have to work to buy that?" I thought it said a lot about the difference between our economic cultures.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Some in close proximity can have varying levels of wealth.

Nap Warden said...

Certainly puts things in perspective...

Mike said...

An entire years rent in advance? Wow, That would never go over in the good ol' US of A.

johnorford said...

actually i think your boss and his wive's expenditure is a net positive. sure they could donate it, but at least spending money in the local area will have some trickle down effect.

also donating money is fraught with er poss fraud or miss appropriation of some type or another.

generosity won't solve indonesia's problems, it may help a little, but the root causes are of course much deeper.

indonesian's need to seriously tackle them themselves.

Hana Miller said...
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