Jakarta: Culture Shock

rani's picture

Hellish Traffic and Relaxed Service

I know, the traffic in Jakarta has always been hellish. But after living away from Jakarta for more than 5 years, it seems that I need to get used to it again. And somehow, my time approximation from 5 years ago is not applicable anymore. I allocate 3 hours of my time to go to Bintaro to Taman Anggrek, buy the modem, and meet my friends at 5pm in Plaza Senayan. It turned out that the trip from Bintaro to Taman Anggrek to Senayan took me four and a half hours.

Several factors contributes to the long trip: First, traffic jam, of course : On average it is 15 km per hour. Second, looking for parking in Taman Anggrek. Third, the modem seller took his time to serve three customers at the same time, and I came last. So I can’t complain about it, it’s just the Indonesian way (I’m quite happy that the seller was quite lighthearted and cheerful). Fourth, 3-in-1 restrictions. As a result, I was so stressed to be late for the meeting and so pissed off that I didn’t estimate the timing properly. I was so stressed that I felt that I would have delivered my baby prematurely in the car.

My driver told me to relax because that’s the way it is. I guess I learn that: I have to take the slower (inefficient) pace of life for granted, not to have high expectations, and relax myself (be “Nrimo”, I don’t know what’s the word in English).

As a result, I had to meet three groups of different friends at the same time. Luckily, all three groups are meeting in Coffee Club, so what I had to do is just jump from one table to another.

Security Concerns, Social Segregation, and Meeting Friends

I guess I’ve been away for too long. This visit to Jakarta, I was a bit anxious about security. I’m worried to be conned, to be asked for bribes and blackmailed. So many questions: Should I take my cellphone with me when I go out? Can I use my cellphone in a car, what if something happen at traffic light intersections? Would it be safe to bring my laptop around? (Note most of my concerns are related to gadgetry because I don’t use much branded goods or jewelry).

It turned out that my friends casually take their gadgets, jewelry, and branded goods with them anywhere. Somehow they just managed not to get robbed. They laughed at me that I worried too much about security in Indonesia.

It frightens me and is embarrassing that I become more and more like Singaporean (being afraid and worrisome) and I have lost that guts and vigilance for being in Indonesia.

On the other hand, it’s just sad to see that my friends managed to stay safe, because they stay in their little cocoons of air-conditioned cars and shopping malls. I felt that the social segregation is starker than a few years ago.

However, it’s interesting to see that everybody in Jakarta has cellphone nowadays! Even my inlaw’s maid has one. The telco providers even have various schemes to accommodate the low-income: there’s even a prepaid mobile scheme for as low as USD 10 cents. My driver told me that the poor usually use it to send and receive SMS rather than for phonecalls.

Nevertheless, I’m really happy to be able to see old friends and friends who share the same interest. It’s interesting to see that friendship from high school and university tends to be more sincere and less “Ja-im” compared to the more recent friendships. It’s funny that I was able to swear (jokingly) at my high school friends without worrying that they would be hurt, and that they tease me with rough words about my pregnancy, and we all just laughed it off.

 

It’s also nice to meet new friends who share the same interest. Finally I met the mommies from the breastfeeding group in Indonesia, and it turned out that they were really funny, talkative, lighthearted, yet they have strong idealism on breastfeeding issues. As I observe, the Indonesian breastfeeding group throw out jokes more often compared to the Singaporean group, who tends to be more reserved and serious. But despite their differences, both groups get things done well. I guess the Indonesians joke a lot because life here is already difficult, so why make it more difficult by being too serious?

 

Comments

Welcome to Jakarta!

I guess you understand why I need to get out of this place, eh? Hehehe.

Anyway, jokes are painkillers, not medicine. It probably ease the pain, but it never cure the pain. That's exactly what happened here. Instead of trying to fix the problem, people are just taking those problem with straight face and move on. I guess that's the spirit of "Nrimo"...

And sorry to burst you balloon but sincerity only happened among friends - old friends especially or at least among peers. The double-face behavior still exists strongly here. It's just cultural.

Whoa, seems like I am ranting a lot here. Well, after almost two years inhale the pollution-choking atmosphere in Jakarta - I guess it affects my brain hahaha.

actually mal taman anggrek

actually mal taman anggrek is one of better places when it comes to rush hour parking :), just don't forget where you park your car

hmm.. setuju sama Avianto,

hmm.. setuju sama Avianto, yang ga sincere juga banyak.. double-faced :(

tapi setuju, orang Indonesia emang cenderung untuk -selalu- ngebodor. sbg org Jawa yang tinggal di Tatar Sunda, gw liat2 orang Sunda lebih sering hantam kromo soal ngebodor. dimanapun, kapanpun, kepada siapapun. bahkan acara lamaran dan upacara adat pernikahan (mis. ngeuyeuk seureuh) kan mostly diwarnai bobodoran :D

hmm.. setuju sama Avianto,

hmm.. setuju sama Avianto, yang ga sincere juga banyak.. double-faced :(

tapi setuju, orang Indonesia emang cenderung untuk -selalu- ngebodor. sbg org Jawa yang tinggal di Tatar Sunda, gw liat2 orang Sunda lebih sering hantam kromo soal ngebodor. dimanapun, kapanpun, kepada siapapun. bahkan acara lamaran dan upacara adat pernikahan (mis. ngeuyeuk seureuh) kan mostly diwarnai bobodoran :D

Bandung rocks!!

That's why we still live in Bandung.... Even though traffic got "mad" in the weekend (invasion by the Jakarta's shoppers :)), still we love Bandung....

Travel Tips

Being a frequent Jakarta visitor, probably I'm in the good position to give some in town travel advises:

1. Take a cab. Don't drive or take private car unless you have dedicate driver. Reason: taxis are exempted from 3-in-1 rules, no need to find parking lot, taxi is relatively easy to find in Jakarta, even if you must call taxi you don't have to pay booking fee (unlike in Singapore).

2. Bring smaller notes/changes. Most people don't have change especially taxi driver, they expect you to round up to maximum numbers. Example: if the fare is Rp.12560 and you pay with 1x Rp.10000 note + 1x Rp.5000 note, don't expect any change. If pay with 1x Rp.10000 note + 3x Rp1000 notes, they will not ask for more.
But if you pay with Rp.20000 note, most likely they will just return you Rp.5000 or ask you for smaller change.

3. Take only taxis from Blue Bird group or even take the premium Silver Bird. Beware of imitation, Blue Bird taxi is always blue in color but blue taxi not necessarily a Blue Bird taxi. Blue Bird has better standard and we can trust their meter.

4. Check the situation from Radio, TV, Internet, or friends before hit the road. Watch out for any demonstrations, public gathering, soccer match, broken vehicle, etc.

5. Make sure the vehicle doors always locked when you are inside. Never wind down the windows.

Nrimo

Isn't nrimo "accepting" or "willing" in English?

PS: Rani, kok comment section-nya tak bisa "remember me" sih? So tiring to retype my details. :P

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