By: Emma Kwee
A man with a strong resemblance to Elton John strokes the hair of his son, while his other kid sits on a bicycle wearing a protective helmet (a dead giveaway that this is not a real life scene). The house is an ultra modern minimalist building with two floors. It has 4 bedrooms, a pond and an open air dining space. It is one of 22 similar houses, in a tree lined street. There is no traffic, no kaki lima’s, no trash on the street. Another couple walks hand in hand toward the horizon.
Such is life, or so will life be, in Kota Baru Parahyangan, near Bandung.”
On the backside of the brochure, the facilities of this new town to be are listed: a hospital, international school, Islamic school, Western language academy, mosque, hotel, bicycle lanes, fire department, shuttle bus service, a sundial and a 4D theater will be ready to complete this oasis of modern living.
Modern life beckons in these newly erected suburbs. As we stand on a hill in Dago, in another one of these mega projects, Citra Green Dago, the Bandung skyline stretches out in the distance. Right in front of us, the building plots are demarcated by yellow ribbon. 80% of this row of soon to be built houses has been sold already. Prices range from Rp. 2.2 billion to Rp. 3.9 billion (220.000- 421.200 USD).
The representative of Citra Green tells us only 20% of the area will be built upon. Citra Green will be a gated community; there will be no angkot, ojek, kaki lima or outsiders. The man points behind us, that’s the way to Punclut (a popular mountainside hang out with terrific views, best enjoyed with a glass of bandrek and hot pisang goreng). To the right, Lembang is reached within 20 minutes.
My mother in law sighs..’ahh mimpi aja ‘(Just a dream) while lighting a cigarette. A dream that is becoming reality for more and more middle class Indonesians though. The deposit is 20% of the total purchase price. The house will be done in 8 months. Then, a 10-15 year installment plan will be set in motion. With monthly payments up to 20 million Rp (2150 USD), this dream lifestyle comes with a hefty pricetag.
New building projects are sprouting up on all sides. Developers from Jakarta buy up all the land they can get their hands on, converting Bandung’s cool mountaineous hills into luxurious American style suburbs. The keywords: Modern minimalism and Green living.
The modern minimalism is easily detectable in the design of the houses; open plan living rooms, marble, tiled floors, glass partitions. Houses are built in different clusters with exotic sounding names such as Aralia, Dorset and Boston Ivy.
The green part is mostly reflected in the green brochures with photos of sunbeams streaming through dense forests. The slogan of Citra Green reads: ‘Where Green Ambience Meets Contemporary Lifestyle’. And the obligatory bicycle lanes of course. Although cycling is definitely a new trend in Indonesia, I wonder if many inhabitants will let their cars stay in the driveway and jump on a bicycle instead.
Citra Green also promises recycling. On a poster in the marketing office a green, red and blue bin are depicted. Presumably for different types of waste. What happens with the waste after it has been collected separately, is not clear.
My mother in law has finished her cigarette and stumps it out with her high heel, that sinks slightly into the muddy building site. So much for green living. ‘Can I open a business here’? She asks the representative. ‘No, not possible’ he says…’What kind of business?’ ‘A cafe, or a catering company’ she murmurs? Her entrepreneurial spirit never dormant, she had hoped to cater to all the rich folk stuck in these villas without the steady stream of kaki lima passing by. Unfortunately, the man shakes his head, maybe an office would be allowed, but no catering company. That closes the lid on this one, she turns around and steps into the car.
Back home, in a simple wooden house with a porch and bamboo walls east of Bandung, the Citra Green brochure lands on top of a pile of similar booklets. Mimpi aja…for now.
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