Friday, September 02, 2011

The Indonesian, the Dutch and the Indian experience

This blogpost is an interview with Hasti Tarekat, a Heritage professional from Indonesia now based in the Netherlands.

1. What parts of a Dutch weekly market do you find most interesting and different from the Indonesian experience?
Mostly, I visit the weekly Dutch market near my house in Amsterdam Southeast which is not more than one kilometer long. But, in this one kilometer market, one finds variations of vegetables and fruits from almost all parts of the world. It says a lot about multi-culturalism in Amsterdam in particular and in the Netherlands. There are about 187 nationalities in Amsterdam and I think it is reflected in its markets.
Markets in Indonesia generally have more local products. This is good from the  sustainability perspective, that we should go local as much as possible to reduce import activities.
2. Could you share your observations on marketplaces in Indonesia that are informal, chaotic but with cultural and social richness?
Markets in Indonesia are less organized than markets in the Netherlands. There is insufficient infrastructure such as water supply and waste management. Some vendors have to put their stuff on the ground. Fish and meat stalls are wet. Many corners are dark. Cars can park on walking paths. So, comfort is not the strong point of markets in Indonesia.

What makes markets in Indonesia interesting is: (1) There are a lot of homemade and handmade products (2) Many of the products are fresh because markets start very early in the morning (3) It is always possible to bargain and this opens up contacts and communication (4) The markets are pillars of informal sectors which are very important in national economic development.
3. Can a bazaar in India be compared to a marketplace in Indonesia? What are the commonalities? What are some of the differences?
To be honest I went to bazaar in India only for a brief visit but from that short moment I enjoyed tremendously the atmosphere, colours and hospitality of the vendors. Bazaars in India have more colours than markets in Indonesia. I think it is related to the flowers, the spices and the textiles in India. The commonalities are the organic nature of the market itself, most part of the market grows itself without too much regulation. Differences are not so many except for the size of the market and the number of people. Bazaars in India are much larger and busier.
 4. Are there ways in which a traditional market environment can be included in Heritage Education for Inner city revitalisation?
I think markets are an important element of a city or a village and should be encouraged to develop and flourish. It is fine to have markets for tourists, but it is more important to keep markets as part of the local economic development. With this idea, we should put markets in the agenda of heritage conservation but unfortunately until now this is not the case. It is an ideal point for discussions about heritage – the social and the economic elements.

I would like to thank Hasti for taking out the time for this and also for writing the previous blogpost on the ‘Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam’. In our informal interactions with Hasti at the ‘Urban Heritage Strategies’ workshop in Rotterdam, Hasti always had two different perspectives for us, one, the Indonesian one and the other, the Dutch one. It made our understanding of Heritage and Culture so much richer having these multi-layered perceptions and explanations.


Divenita said...

I like the interview :).


Anjali said...

I am curious to know if regulars have a special bonds with their favorite vendors in Indonesia as well as Netherlands as it is observed in India. An Indian vendor knows his regular customers taste well and sometimes keeps the best produce for them.

Hasti said...

I think human contacts are strong point of traditional markets everywhere in the world, including in the Netherlands, where generally people are more individualist than in Asian countries like Indonesia and India. I often saw warm conversation between vendors and customers in Amsterdam's markets. Some customers are active players too in saving the planet by giving back egg boxes to the vendors to be re-used. A good example. That wouldn't happen in a supermarket.

Indian Bazaars said...

Divenita: Thanks. It has been great to have Hasti take interest in this blog and to share her insights.

Anjali: Thanks for dropping by and for your question.

Hasti: Thanks.