On Belonging


I always believed that it was the things you don’t choose that makes you who you are. Your city, your neighbourhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they’d accomplished. The bodies around their souls; the cities wrapped around those. —Gone Baby Gone


There is a peculiar thrill to hearing your city described in terms less than conventional, more so when the talk is salacious, bordering on risqué. For all the respect you wish accorded to the weight of its history, the joy of its music, the singularity of its people and character—you also want it to speak for itself, i.e. to reveal itself with all its grey zones, its convolutions, the breadth of its unadvertised parts. Deep down there is a will for it to have a few tricks up its sleeves, to possess of certain quirks. You will it, for want of a better term, to have a secret subterranean world of sweet and shady dealings, just as the human psyche craves, seeks out, even needs its hidden life. Laksmi Pamuntjak [#]