Moody in a manic city


I don’t know if it is the heat, nasi goreng, a constant yearning for the footpath or pollution messing with my serotonin, but I haven’t been able to hold a steady mood since I first arrived in this city. Tuesday, I was blue. Thursday, I was tickled pink. This weekend: a hyper-colour blur.

Dolly stressed out!

Today, I am stressed and I am crazy. When I have a lot of work on, I lug more onto the pile. Swallowed by stress and restricted by own perfectionism, I create deadlines where they needn’t exist just for the masochistic fun of it.

A scientific calculation of the difference between my Indonesian and Australian ecological footprints in my spare time — on top of a full-time job, extra editing tasks, Bahasa Indonesia lessons and freelancing — heck, why not?

Now this isn’t acurate. (Do I need to tell you that I didn’t have time?)

Based on flawed calculations, my hypothesis actually turned out to be wrong. Using the Global Footprint Network’s Ecological Footprint Calculator and answering as honestly as possible, here are the results.

My (and my household’s) energy guzzling ways when I was living in Australia a month prior to my Jakarta adventure:

3.2 worlds

Australian ecological footprint: 3.2 Earths

And now with my more environmentally pious ways in Jakarta:

2.8 worlds

Indonesian ecological footprint: 2.8 Earths

And this takes into consideration my increased flying, my increased cool-air consumption and even my decreased recycling.

However, this comparison is faulty. Firstly, both quizzes were answered as if I live in New South Wales, Australia, which is true for the first set of results, but obviously false for the second. It doesn’t take into consideration how the two countries generate electricity, the water efficiency of crop plantations and harvesting, the fuel efficiency of motorcycles I take to work, and so on. Secondly, it was difficult to give an accurate answer to many questions, mainly because in both instances I wasn’t the one responsible for paying the energy bills.

According to WWF’s Living Planet Report (2006), the average Australian uses 6.6 global hectares to sustain their lifestyle. I roughly used 5.8. And according to the Global Footprint Network, the average Indonesian footprint is 1.1 global hectare. I roughly use 5.



I thought my ecological footprint in Jakarta was going to be of Sasquatch proportions in comparison to my one back home, so I am not entirely sure of the reasons for the 0.4-Earth discrepancy. There must be something wrong. Personally, I feel guilty every time I look at a bajaj, let alone ride one.

After a couple of composed minutes to conjecture, here are some possible reasons: decreased meat consumption, decreased consumption of luxury goods (living out of a suitcase helps) and living considerably closer to work.

Now, when I promised results last week — like a pollie on the campaign trail — I really did intend for a more calculated conclusion. But regardless of whether I actually use a little more or less global hectares to support my lifestyle, I need to cut down.

Hmm … to start with I will stop eating meat, buy fresher and locally produced produce and (maybe even) try to go without air-conditioning as much as my sweat glands will allow. But what else can I do? Any suggestions?

How many world’s does it take to support your lifestyle? And what will you do to cut down? No judgement.

Next time I approach this subject, and in response to k8tb’s comment, I will look at the responsibility of governments to force their citizens to change their environmentally destructive ways. But while this city is making me whacky, I refuse to set a deadline.

Topic change: pornography, underpants and sexism.

The carbon monoxide is not only altering my moods, it is scrambling my brain and any attempt at logical and consistent thought patterns.

Knickers on the line

Knickers on the line

For those who don’t know, this blog/website/whatever-it-becomes is to encourage a cultural exchange between Australia and Indonesia; to facilitate discussion between the women of the two countries. So I thought this was a comparison to get people yakking.

While Indonesia deliberates the porn bill, Australians combats the vulgar “No Undie Sundie” — a pub’s drink promotion for women who remove their knickers.

Procrastination of said stress pile ends now.


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9 Responses to “Moody in a manic city”

  1. nyscha Says:

    Random jumps of the topic. Very very amusing.

    I think your eco-footprint here is smaller because so many things are under the radar in Indonesia, thus limiting the possibility of calculating anything with precision. I don’t know, it’s only a theory. In the 10 years I’ve been in Jakarta, I’ve noticed that my somewhat organized life in Montreal has become a bustling, crowded, messy pile of steaming crap, similar to the gridlocked streets of Jakarta.

    And yes, I’ve never once here had a day where my mood was stable. It’s become a routine to be filled with anger one minute and then be mollified and feel really giddy the next. After a while it grows on you. I don’t think I could go back to living a stable, organized life. It would be too mundane.

    I’ll mope around Jakarta with you anytime you ask 🙂

  2. Cameron Says:

    It’s hard to reduce your footprint. I noticed that flying apparently makes little difference to its size (which lets me off nicely for my 25-100 hours in the sky a year), while I could shave off half a planet if I halved my consumption of animal products (no mean feat considering I’m already a vegetarian).
    I think it’s faulty, but I was too lazy to read up on the methodology:
    Perhaps No Undie Sundie was actually an environmental protest – consume less, wear less, that sort of thing. I’m all for it (may not be true).

  3. Cameron Says:

    In fact, if you live in New South Wales, Australia, you apparently cannot reduce your footprint below 1.7 earths. There’s no hope for me.

  4. lovelli Says:

    As a normal Indonesian, I don’t think about these things a lot. The term ‘ecological footprint’ itself is fairly new to me. But I do relate to your feeling guilty for looking at the bajaj in this city.

    You asked “How many world’s does it take to support your lifestyle? And what will you do to cut down?”. I feel like the first thing I need to do is cut down on my smoking, or I’ll start looking like a puffing bajaj myself.

    That’s the problem, though, with Indonesians. We’re so ignorant about the environment, until the environment ignores us and starts causing problems, then we start blaming whoever it is we could blame. Including, most often when I’m driving through a traffic jam, the notorious bajajs and their drivers.

  5. bellesbits Says:

    Ok, so I always hesitate to do this, but since you’ve already brought it up Jemi…

    VEGO POWER! Seriously, this may sound incredibly shallow but I almost feel morally sound when I read about the environment because I’m vegetarian. Or rather, I feel a tad less guilty, that amongst all my other bad habits, including my undying love for ojeks, at the very least I don’t eat meat.

    I’m a vegetarian mostly for environmental reasons. I hear people say ‘that’s great, but I love meat too much, I could never give up’. It makes me laugh, because I met very few people who love food as much as I do. But I read a book one day when I was 19, Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation to be precise, and after that there was no question for me about what I could put in my stomach. It has never, ever been a struggle for me (despite my undying love for food) because the ethical considerations are far too strong.

    I really dislike ranting about my vegetarian-ess. But if you’re interested in reading more about the arguments for vego-ness start here:

  6. Ganjano Says:

    Moody? Try testosterone.

  7. nanedesu Says:

    Many people call me an environmentalist, but I eat meat (like a lot) and I might probably die if I don’t sleep with the air conditioner on at night… :p … lol. Even so, I do my best to recycle, cut deep down on plastic and other inorganic trash, consume organic foods, and loving public transportation (even though it bites sometimes!)… I try to keep a significant distance from the web calculations of ecological footprints because it will probably give me a heart attack if it turns out that I’m an ecological criminal…

    But nonetheless, if I was to compare my nerve-racking days in Jakarta in comparison to the comfortable life in Canada, I wouldn’t really be surprised if my ecological footprints are lower in Jakarta than in the developed country. In exchange to the air conditioner, the heater was my best friend (I gotta keep my body temperature stable right? :p )… And meat… Well no difference… Meat is also my best friend and I am tied down to the food chain as a pure omnivore or a 3rd class consumer. It’s kind of hard to change that habit… Or maybe it’s just my excuse because I don’t want to be a vegan. LoL.

    But there are a lot of things that are different in lifestyles… And I think it all points out to one thing. Technology. A vast majority of Indonesians don’t depend much on technology as much as those in the developed countries…. Even though I think I might also die without my notebook (a.k.a. my soul mate). Once you step in and actually sink in the feel of Jakarta, I think the nerve-racking routine which drains more of our human energy has become an alternative to non-renewable energy resources used to maintain the comfortable lifestyle of the western world… Could that be a reason for our slightly lower ecological footprints? 🙂

  8. lovelli Says:

    Ooh. I just remembered a time near Idul Adha in 1992. I was so sad that the cute goats near our house got slaughtered that I decided that I would never eat meat again.

    So I wrote a letter to God, sort of a pact that I “whose signature is printed below, shall never eat meat again until the day I die, or until people stop slaughtering goats and cows during Idul Adha”.

    I added a drop of my blood at the bottom of the letter, just to let God know that I was serious.

    But then, a year after that I had totally forgotten about the pact. My mom found it hidden in the closet and told me about it. I ducked by saying, “I wasn’t a full grown up when I wrote that. So surely, that didn’t count.”

  9. Porn, scorn and prickly relationships « Om’bak Says:

    […] am moody no matter where I set foot — It has nothing to do with Jakarta. Maybe Jakarta has to put up with me as much I have to put up with […]

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