Starting the morning off with sad news just seems to hang a dark cloud over the rest of that day. This is exactly what I'm experiencing after I turned on the news this morning to hear about the hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is particularly sad because some of the most warm and wonderful people I know are from Indonesia. In 2006, I was privileged to attend a conference in Jakarta. It was my first visit to Asia so I was extra thrilled. Although we were not in the Ritz-Carlton or Marriott hotels, we were in the very grand Gran Melia. I was like a kid in an enchanted forest....A very well-fed large kid!
Jakarta was a fascinating and extremely large populated city. I thought we had serious traffic problems in Accra, well that was until I went to Jakarta! One could stay in bumper to bumper traffic literally for hours. Another reason I loved Jakarta was that you can buy any sort of electronic device on this planet at a reasonable price. At the time, the Indonesian currency was exactly equivalent to our old cedi rate so it was really easy to make conversions and price comparisons.
A thing that struck me on my short visit to Jakarta, was the extremely tight security in hotels. Every time our car entered the hotel compound, metal detectors were used to thoroughly sweep the whole vehicle. We were all searched before entering the hotel building as well.
On a lighter note: I was completely unprepared for the curiosity reserved for African visitors to the city by some of her inhabitants. The Africans among our group drew stares and exclamations of surprise in some malls and public places. In the end I admit, I was a little overwhelmed. In one museum, a group of girl scouts/girl guides were completely surprised when they encountered our group in an artifact room. They insisted on taking a picture of us. We placed a condition; that would only happen if we could take a picture of them!
So my fond memories of Jakarta are eclipsed by sadness as thoughts and prayers are with friends and colleagues there.