Iwan Tirta was a well-known batik designer who said he was never at a loss for words. You’ll find his description of “Jakarta Tempo Duluh” adds human warmth and color to these cold old archive photos. By the way, Jakarta Tempo Duluh means “Old time Jakarta.” Like “Djakarta” it’s often written using old timey-style as “Jakarta Tempo Doeloe” using the pre-1945 (ie, Dutch) spelling.
Tirta reminisces about moving from East Java to this part of Jakarta as a child. His school was on Jl. Cikini while the family lived at Jl. Cik Ditiro No. 72 — a few blocks from where I lived when I first came to Jakarta. The street was then called Mampangweg, a corner of town depicted in recent photographs of Dutch Menteng. During WWII-era Djakarta, this was a spooky little walk to school past the Japanese “kamps” where Dutch and other Europeans were held.
(I never met Tirta. But he reminds me of a Javanese man of similar age: our prior tukang here at the Sharehouse who died two years ago and is missed. After a stint at the UN — like Tirta — Pak Karseno returned to Jakarta to a life of jack-of-all-tradesmanship, a gentleman tukang if there ever was one. He did landscaping and interior details for several houses in Menteng and other parts of town.)