Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bay City Day

“Do you want to rent a duck?”
It’s Saturday morning on Marina Beach, Ancol Bay City, north Jakarta. The sun remains behind the white clouds and the day-trippers are still at home. Yellow foam laps the shore. Sodden cigarette butts and broken prongs of white plastic forks stud the dull sand. An hour with the floating duck costs Rp 10,000 ($1.00).
“Emergencies happen,” says Mono, the inflatable duck renter. “People, usually children who can’t swim, shout out tolong! tolong! – and I rush into the water to the rescue.”
Ancol Bay City is a 140-acre recreation area containing a theme park, cycling routes, seaside esplanades and restaurants, live music stages, a water park, outbound courses, jet ski and wind-surfing rental, boats to the diving spots of the Thousand Islands, and an art market.
“I make Harry Potters out of grass,” says artist M. K. Makroni. The multi-coloured Harry Potters dangle from a miniature clothes horse, swaying on the sea breeze. They sell for Rp 25,000 ($2.50).
“I start with grass, weave it into rope, and then knot the rope into sculptures,” he explains. Behind Makroni is a garage-sized gallery of rope cows and buffaloes, men and elephants, and dragons suspended from roof beams. It takes three months to build a life-size cow from one acre of grass. Makroni's work sells for around Rp 50 million ($5,000) a piece.

In a steep-roofed café in the art market, the waitress cleaves the bottom off a coconut rendering it steady to stand. She whacks off the top and sets the coconut bowl on the table. Her muddy fingerprints have soiled the lip of the white straw.
A groundswoman in a blue uniform shuffles through the café, quietly takes up the machete, and uses it to sharpen the pointed end of her trash-picking-up stick. She winks at me.

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