Wednesday, March 09, 2011

An Indonesian Convert?

Not that I am necessarily any more or less enamored with the place, I am finding it's growing on me, or maybe me into it. A list of the multiple ways I am becoming more Indonesian by the day:

  • I own more than one phone.  I own more than two phones, each with their own sim card and purpose. I have two phones at my place, one in the wall and one for magic jack computer use.  I currently have three cell phones.  I heard another teacher tell a story that her conversation class came in one day and this woman took out a small zippered pouch from her purse.  She proceeded to open it looking for something and there were six cell phones.  Each with it's own number, sim card and purpose.  I have left strict orders with Vicki that if I should ever own that many, I am to be drug out back and shot.

  • The honking and being misterbombed don't phase me any more.  Misterbombing is when the locals sit on their stools at a warung (roadside shack that serves food) or stand my their motorbike, or anywhere really, and shout "Missmissmissmiss" or "mistermistermister" at you.  If they are between the ages of say eight and forty two, they'll giggle when they do it, especially the boys.  98% of the time, if you stop and say hello or ask what they want, they are completely flabbergasted and don't know what to do.  Now I just truck on.

  • Tied into that is the fact that I no longer expect to have any personal space, or understanding thereof, be it literal space or figurative.  In the US, if I were to walk down the street with big headphones (not earbuds, the big ones that are obvious), sunglasses and a slight scowl, no one would even consider approaching me unless my pants were on fire. Here in Indonesia, I'll still be misterbombed, asked if I want to buy food, take an ojek ride or enter their shop. 

  • I take the bus and don't give a damn that I'm the only white person on it.  I did notice last week that my knees were the only visible ones on the bus, and I was wearing a teaching-elementary-school-students -appropriate dress. 

  • I'm beginning to cultivate the ability to fall asleep anywhere.  If you ask Indonesians (and this goes for the Koreans I work with too) what their hobbies are, eating and sleeping are assured to be among them. It doesn't matter how many times they are told by foreigners that sleeping, and eating for that matter, are not hobbies. I saw a guy fall asleep standing on a packed bus yesterday.  I've had my own close calls falling asleep on the back of an ojek. And yet it's the days when I am the most desperate to sleep that  I still toss and turn in my own bed.

  • I now grasp why the culture has adopted a mass theory of procrastination.  My contention with this was it stifled my ability to get things done!  Now I get the two pronged reasoning.  One: most Indonesians are lazy.  It sounds like an awful cultural stereotype, but even the Indonesians say so.  They will work very hard if required, like the ditch diggers who have been laying telephone cables along my route home.  That happens infrequently.  It can be seen in that most jobs allow for lots of hours sitting around doing little to nothing.  I thought the "manana" culture of Spain was bad. There, nothing was ever so pressing as to rush and do it today, if tomorrow would suffice.  Two:  To get something taken care of by maintenance at my apartment, it usually takes at least two trips to talk to someone to sort it out or schedule it and then supervision of said task.  I have found myself recently postponing tasks.  My television stopped working.  I thought there was a problem with the power supply/cord/source.  The little green light wasn't coming on.  Because of work obligations and timing, I couldn't get down to ask them to fix it for two days.  On that day, two days later, I asked at the front desk on my way up to my apartment.  When I got into my place, I double checked and sure enough, the tv was fine again.  Same thing happened with mysterious water on the bathroom floor.  I'm fairly certain it was leaking from between the tiles in the shower, but now that it's stopped, I don't care. 

  • I cannot respond to a simple question with just yes or no.  I repeat yes or no multiple times.  Here's an example:
Joe: Hey, how are you today?
Me: Ya, good ya, and you?
Joe: Ya good.  Are you going out to EP this weekend?
Me: Ya, ya, ya (the last one stretched out to yeaaaaa). Hope to see you there.
Joe: Do you think it will be quiet like last week?
Me: No, no.
The ya's, no's and adu's (an expression for exhaustion, frustration, incredulity and about six other emotions) have seeped deep into my vocabulary well. I also can't just nod to show I am intently listening or flowing the logic, now I have to "ya, ya, ya" my way along.

  • I slog along through the puddles just to get where I'm going.  Last night was in heels on the way to the bus stop.  The afternoon rain had ceased, but the puddles along the road would last until evening.  Also, I usually wear sandals now.  Easier for the water to go in, but also easier for it to flow back out and dry out.   Additionally, I have rain gear for the motorbike and anything less than a torrential down pour doesn't slow me down.
I'm sure I've forgotten a few. If so, they shall be added tomorrow.


  1. Athlander and the Mistress of the Nordic RealmsMarch 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    We're very curious about the purpose of your three phones! Can you elaborate?

  2. The Japanese call sleeping a hobby too.

  3. I have one phone in my apartment, a regular phone that I can hook in to my computer via magic jack. Then for cell phones I have my original brick phone that still works ok and holds the sim card that I use to call the States. I have my old blackberry and my new blackberry of which I am only using the latter. My computer also has chat and video chat options with skype and yahoo messenger. Now all I need is the time to talk to someone.

    I don't care how many countries think so, sleeping is not a hobby. Neither is breathing. They are both necessities and just because you enjoy doing them still doesn't reclassify them. (in my book anyway)