Buitenzorg is a Dutch word. The meaning of it is “The place of no worry” or “the peaceful place”. The word was used by Baron von Imhoff, the Governor General of Dutch East Indies in 1745 to name a mansion that now is known as Bogor Palace.
The word reflected about his astonishment over something he saw during his journey to find a place for his runaway. The thing that he sought after to satisfy his tired soul. Surely, as the Governor General of East Indies caused exhaustion to himself.
Far away from his own country, facing a difficult task to control region full with angry indigenous people had scraped his spirit day by day. Running away to somewhere that could provide him with peacefulness and putting aside his worry for a while could be understandable.
When finally he found what he wanted , then surely the first name emerged on his mind described his longing for peacefulness. Buitenzorg! “This was the place I wanted” . I am sure that was on his mind at that moment.
The place that von Imhoff saw now has become mine, my rain city, Bogor. Von Imhoff as you might have read on my writing about Bogor Palace, finally decided to make the place as his hideaway from the bustle in Batavia (now Jakarta)
Nowadays, the previously called Buitenzorg mansion has changed its form to be the Bogor Palace. However the name itself is still alive. It is used proudly by many people to refer to their city, Bogor. Many of them doesn’t know where the word came from but it doesn’t stop them to say or write it. I did it too in the past..
Not only in Bogor, people in Indonesia will always relate the word with Bogor. Some online dictionaries that I used to find the actual meaning of Buitenzorg will also present the name of the city if you enter the word. So, it is recognized worldwide that the word is now the informal name of my city.
If you visit the modern version of Buitenzorg now, probably you would be aghast. I bet you would then ask “where was the peacefulness”.
I won’t blame you for that. In fact, I believe if von Imhoff could be revived, he would surely ask to return to his coffin and continue his death. Or, he could immediately run and find another place for his hideaway. Which one he prefers, we would never know but I think he prefers to return to his coffin.
Yes, his Buitenzorg, now became my Bogor is no longer peaceful. It is no more quiet. It is no longer the location for someone who loves green of trees and the sound of birds.
The peaceful place has changed its form to a bustle and rush city. The thing von Imhoff escaped more than 2 and half centuries ago. The current Bogor surely was even noisier and busier than Batavia on his era.
There are almost one million people lives in the city or equal to 5000-11000 people per square kilometer. Hundreds of motorcycle are owned. Thousands of cars accompany the motorbikes crawl the streets everyday. Nine big department stores combined with 7 tradisional markets and hundreds of stores fill almost every meter of land in this city.
Three millions tourists pay a visit to the city every year. More than 200 thousands people from Bogor travel to surrounding cities to earn living everyday.
The life here started very early even before roosters can release the the crowing sound in dawn. It will finish only after an owl back to its hole.
People walk faster and become faster everyday. Rush ! Rush and Rush!
Well, the Buitenzorg has become the miniature of Jakarta. It resembles the city in many ways. The structure, the life, the bustle and many other things of both cities are alike. Of course Jakarta is much more noisier considering its size is much bigger.
Since the growth of economy of Indonesia, this kind of situation is inevitable. It should have been predicted. Bogor is too close to its big brother city to avoid the impact. What happen in Jakarta surely affect Bogor.
When Jakarta faces a problem for lack of land for housing, not too long after that, Bogor suffers the same thing. The reason for this similarity because people who can not buy a house in Jakarta will buy it in the nearest city which one of them is the Buitenzorg.
Day by day, the place that used to stun many Governor Generals of Dutch East Indies transform to its new form, a busy city. Piece by piece, the remains of the quietness and peacefulness vanish and are replaced by noise of busy city.
As a person who learns about cultural study theory, I admit that this situation can not be avoided. It is a nature. People changes everyday and cities do as well. Cities must change to accommodate its people. They will change at the same time when its people change. There is no way we can stop it.
However still, there is a longing feeling , I believe not only in my heart but also many others’ for some quietness and peacefulness. The feel of missing of the Buitenzorg, the old one , seems to grow inside many people here. Perhaps, the same feeling that was inside von Imhoff when he was in Batavia in 1745.
Unfortunately, we can not escape from this city, and we don’t want to. This is where we belong.
It is lucky that some parts of the city and its surrounding areas still provide us with something to minimize the feeling. I put some pictures found in this rain city, the now Buitenzorg that at least give a little comfort that can be used as our hideaways.
Yet, I still feel lucky to still have the remains of what overwhelmed many people in the past. Unfortunately I feel sorry for my son because it is likely in his time, the little remains may not be exist.
Sorry son, you must solve this by your own later. Perhaps , you should stop to use the “Buitenzorg” to refer to our own city, Bogor from now on.