Flash flooding or flash of genius?

So there’s been a lot of hand wringing and buck-passing over the floods in the last week. It’s the villas in Puncak. No, wait, all the malls and apartments in the city. The rich, paving their driveways for their urban tanks. No, the poor — always the best people to blame, as they have problems arguing back, bless their malnourished, illiterate little hearts — because they live along the rivers and throw their garbage in them. No, all of us! We’re all to blame! Alack! Alas! What are going to do about this dreadful, dreadful problem?

Ridiculous. All wrong. The floods aren’t a problem. They’re a planning and tourism gold mine. We don’t need to stop the floods. We need more of them. We need to put the whole city underwater. I’m thinking a new lake, around, oh, say, the size of Greater Jakarta. About three stories deep.

It’d be a clean slate, not to mention something of a novelty. People are still talking about Atlantis, and that place vanished years ago. Not that I’m advocating wholesale obliteration, more something along the lines of Venice, but with skyscrapers and probably fewer gondoliers singing Italian love songs, although perhaps we can work out a promotion deal with the dangdut people.

Instead of fretting about new roads and buses and the monorail, we can have boats. I’m sure someone will figure out how to manufacture the aquatic equivalent of a metro mini or a bajaj.

We can all move into the empty apartment blocks that helped prevent water from soaking into the ground in the first place — and won’t it be nice to actually see lights on in the Da Vinci tower for once. I’m sure the two or three people who reportedly live in it now won’t mind sharing with a bunch of broke English teachers and office boys.

The poor will have to sort something out for themselves. Living on less than a dollar a day presumably breeds some sort of inventiveness. Perhaps they can live on little man-made islands like the people in Waterworld. They’ll be great tourist draw-cards.

And tourists will love the new Jakarta. Think of the scuba diving business opportunities! A chance for people to see a real-life submerged city — participants may need extra vaccinations.

Commuter bridges will connect the closer buildings, and any rubbish we dump into the water — why bother changing our habits? They’re what got us to this beautiful point — and over the years they’ll form reasonably stable land we can build on.

We must start on this project today! We are not part of the problem, we’re part of the solution! More towers, more malls! People of Puncak, continue to build your holiday homes! River-living poor, throw your garbage wherever!

Menteng residents remember: You don’t have to pay someone to mow a concrete garden. I’m going to start today. This is my gift to the city: a sack of trash in the nearest watercourse.

— Jennifer Bennett

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