Monday, December 24, 2007

no silent night

informal service

There are different ways to look at economies. First, there are market and non-market economies. The latter are subsistence economies. These economies produce for there own consumption (thus: producer and consumer are the same). A few chickens in the backyard or a small plot of paddy field characterize such an economy. A market economy can be divided into the formal and the informal market economy. Legally defined property rights characterize the formal market economy so that market exchanges are taxable by the state. Of course, there is overlap between the formal and informal sectors. The formal sector can be informally taxed, this is usually called extortion though and this is how the mafia got big. The informal market economy is also called the black market. The informal sector is on the other hand more flexible. In Indonesian cities one can find posters all around on which services are offered: your sofa can be cleaned, you can learn Korean, you can borrow money, you can hire a maid or a car, you can make posters or banners. The Jakarta based artists collective Ruang Rupa makes fun of this by making their own poster. Ruang Rupa offers a course on how to become a thief (maling) and the teacher can come to your home.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

sans papiers...

Since March the fifth, 2003, I have been in Indonesia. The last time I had Dutch soil under my feet was according to my passport a thousand and forty days ago.
Did I somewhere cross a line without noticing it? In the past few years I collected dozens of pages filled with stamps, signatures and corrections thereupon from various state officials.
Did I somehow become an émigré without ever making that decision? Expatriated?
I start to feel at home here though. Indonesia is nesting underneath my skin – the dust, the dirt, the heat, the jams, the noise – the thrills for me, the urban junkie. It has been and surely still is a valuable lesson in slow living.
My present visa is valid until October 4, 2008. My passport, though, expires January 10, 2008. So I need a new travel document – even though I do not move beyond any country borders.
So I went to the Dutch consulate in Jakarta to apply for a new passport. But my application was rejected. The pass photos I presented together with the application were considered to be of the wrong size. Apparently, the face on these photos was too small with one (sic!) millimeter.
I guess I have gotten used to Indonesian pragmatism…My initial response: where can I apply for Indonesian citizenship?