Today Friday 17 July was a sad day in Jakarta. I woke up this morning to the sound of explosions at several points in the city, especially two prominent hotels, the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott (this poor hotel was already greatly damaged in an earlier bomb in 2003). Luckily I had long passed by the Ritz Carlton and as my taxi drove by it, I was just thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stay in a luxury place like this”. Well, fate (of course for us Muslims, this automatically means God) knew better for me.
For us Architects and builders who work so hard to raise these bombed buildings, this thought came to mind: “It takes so much time, thought and toil to build something, and it takes just a moment of madness to destroy everything.”
As of the time of writing, no perpetrator was known yet. If it was Muslim, rest assured they were operating well outside the teachings of Islam as also pointed out in the Imam’s khutbah (sermon) during today’s Friday prayers that I attended in Jakarta, as well as in all mosques across this vast nation of 17,000 islands. Or it may have been quietly perpetrated by others.
In any case, all my IMS meetings in the end were postponed due to the situation, even the big modern malls were fairly quiet. But life must go on, and by and large with only some exceptions, Indonesia’s 240 million are a very, very patient and tolerant people.
I’m glad to mention that the day before, Thursday, I was in the pretty hill city of Bandung, and visited the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bandung, Faculty of Architecture. For our UPM FRSB staff and students, you’ll remember many months back we had a Design Series Lecture where ITB’s Senior Lecturer, Prof. Dr. Ir. Rini Raksadjaya gave a good talk on Nusantara Architecture & Landscape, showing us a key feature: that in the traditional Malayo-Indonesian manner, indoor and outdoor is married together – very environment friendly architecture.
I met Dr. Ibu Rini, who sends her salam to all at UPM FRSB, especially to the Head, Assoc. Prof. Ar. Meor Fared, also staff and students who attended her lecture. ITB has a beautiful campus, with iconic tropical Nusantara style modernised architecture that is immediately recognisable. I also met other Architecture Faculty members: Pak Indra, Pak Firman, Pak Bambang (famous for his research and work on mosques across Indonesia) and Pak Budi who kindly showed me around campus including the famous Aula Timur & Barat halls as well as Masjid Salman, one of the first Indonesian mosques to break away from conventional ‘Islamic’ styles, alluding to hands cupped upward in do’a.
It would have been a totally great visit if not for the unfortunate bombs. May the bombers be punished, but life must go on. And my UPM students don’t forget to attend the Green Revolution lecture on Monday; remember how I was pressing on environment consciousness in my class lectures too… Salam sejahtera. Najib–