Thing Indonesians Like: Durian

Just like Jakarta, the big durian, you are either going to love it or to hate it. There is no in between.

Durian is being judged as the world’s smelliest fruit, it has distinctive odor and sometimes described to have the stench of old gym socks. The lovers of this King of fruit will argue that the spicy fruit has a sweet smell. The chewy flesh is so soft, like a cream cheese mix with custard.

This fruit is so powerful, it could divide a family into two, the haters and the lovers. The pungent smell would stop the haters from having them around the house, while the lovers would do anything to have them. The fight about durian in the family could be nasty, as durian haters feel they deserve fresh air, free from the potent stench of the fruit. While for the lovers, the smell is not really that bad.

I was once a durian hater, but I was converted by a former colleague. One evening, we were sitting in a durian place, not far from Hermes Palace Hotel in Banda Aceh.  My former colleague ate durian passionately, so passionate that I think she was having duriangasm. It’s the foodgasm caused by a delicious durian.

Not knowing the pleasure of eating durian (and obviously wanted to have duriangasm), I decided to try it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and thankfully, it was one of the best durians I’ve ever had. The smell of the durian was not strong, perfect for newbie like me; they said it was fresh from the tree. Hence, less smelly. That night, we combined the durian with sticky rice, like a real Banda Acehnese, and it was a lip-smacking combination.

For Indonesians durian lovers, travelling around the country means tasting local durian. I traveled to different places in Indonesia to see the country and to taste durian, but the one place that I could never forget is Medan, a city famous for all-year round durian. A famous durian seller from the city, even claims, you haven’t been to Medan, if you haven’t taste Ucok Durian.

Durian Medan is so famous that Indonesians like to bring them back home as oleh-oleh (gift). Despite the ban from airlines to bring them to the cabin, people still find a way to “smuggle” durian. The seller will pack fresh durian flesh in a plastic box, wrapped with few layers of plastic, covered with a spoonful of coffee powder before re-wrapping it with another plastic. It is belief that the coffee would eliminate the smell of the durian. A former colleague tried it, but the flight attendants cannot be fooled.

Despite our love to durian, people hate the idea of having durian in a flight. Recently, a Sriwijaya Air flight was delayed as the passengers weren’t happy with the smell of durian inside the cabin. The airline carried three tonnes durians and some passengers claimed it as a safety hazard. They walked out from the flight and refused to fly. It’s either them or durian. The case of people vs durian was unfortunately won by the people.

Fearing of flying with durian came from the incident that happened in 2005, Mandala Airline crashed in Medan and more than 2 tonnes of durian was found in the scene. Up until today, there are still too many people who believe the crash was caused by the durians, not the engine.

What’s the best way to eat durian? Fresh durian would still be the best way to eat it and in Indonesia, we like them ripe. A combination of durian with sticky rice (like the one I had in Banda Aceh) is also good. There are also people who eat durian with rice, many of us would find this weird. Durian can also be processed “for a snack”, such as pancake, glutinous rice cake, ice cream, cheesecake, pizza and the list go on.

Durian is claimed to be dangerous for health, as it might increase cholesterol level. It is of course a myth. Turn out, durian has no cholesterol. People also believe that people could get drunk if they eat too much durian, as it contains alcohol. In Indonesia, we call it mabuk durian. Despite the myths, the smell and the hates we receive for loving them, our love for durian is undeniable. We love it so much that some of us bring it to the bedroom, as a durian flavour condom (okay this is too much!).

Do you love durian?


Rahajeng Nyepi

Today, Bali, Prambanan, Malang and few other places in Indonesia are very festive. Thousands of giant effigies (ogoh-ogoh) are being taken around the city for pengrupukan. Later tonight, the giant effigies, which symbolized bad energy, will be burnt. Most of people in the world celebrate New Year with boozes, trumpets and parties, but devout Hindu Dharma in Indonesia celebrate it in different way. They disconnect themselves from the world, meditate, reflect and observe the four principles of Nyepi: amati geni, amati karya, amati lelungan and amati lelanguan.

Amati geni means to refrain from lighting fire and using light. This mean complete darkness and no food will be served as one will not be able to cook. Those who are willing and able, could observe 24 hour fast, while those who are unable to, usually prepare food from few days before. Besides fasting, mona brata or to refrain from speaking is also observed (I love mona brata!). The second principle, amati karya means to refrain from doing any activities; the activity that suggested is sitting still and mediate. Again, this is not mandatory and only for those who are able. Amati lelungan means to refrain from going out of the house and travel should also be observed. In Bali, one will not be able to leave premise unless there is an emergency such as illness or childbirth. The last principle is amati lelanguan, to refrain from  any kind of pleasure, including meceki, the traditional card games. Sadly, many people play meceki, which most of the time involve money, during Nyepi.

Selamat Nyepi!

I experienced my first Nyepi in Bali couple years ago. It was my first and I shall hope not my last Nyepi. Nyepi in Bali, is different from Nyepi in other city, because the whole island is completely quiet and dark. ATMs and convenience stores are covered with dark plastic, people fly out of Bali and those who couldn’t leave Bali, buy a lot of food.  When Nyepi starts, at 6 in the morning, the only thing that I head was birds chirping beautifully. During the evening, I heard nothing but the barks of the dog across the house where I stayed. The roads were deserted because people were staying at home; only pecalang, the traditional Balinese police, seen patrol around the area. The night, for me, was the most memorable.  It was a new moon and the sky was completely dark; so dark that I wasn’t able to gaze the stars.

The last couple year, Bali and Nyepi has proven tolerance. Last year (or maybe a year before), Nyepi observed on Friday. Moslems who live in Bali observed they pray but at the same time still respect the Nyepi. The call for praying at the mosque was not performed using the speaker. This year, Nyepi falls during Lenten and once again, Bali and its people will show their tolerance. If only the whole world could learn tolerance from Bali, the world might be a better place.

To all the devout Hindu Dharma in Indonesia and abroad, Rahajeng Nyanggra Rahina Nyepi Çaka 1937. May we are all bless with peace in mind, peace on earth and eternal peace.

Read as well:

Inspiring Blogger Award

Around two weeks ago, Mbak Yoyen nominated me as ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’. I do not feel that I deserve the award, like Leonardo deserves an Oscar, but of course I will take it. Mille merci Mbak Yoyen for giving me this award.

inspiring Blog Award

In order to accept this award, I need to follow these rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog (again thank you Mbak Yoyen)
  • Display the award on your post.
  • List the award rules so your nominees will know what to do.
  • State 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. (fifteen? Really?)
  • Contact your nominees to let them know you have nominated them. Provide a link to your post.
  • Proudly display the award logo (or buttons) on your blog, whether on your side bar, about page, or a special page for awards.

Stating 7 things about me is never easy but here they are:

  • I have a very good touch-type skill, but I type with two finger in the typing machine (oh yeah I still use typing machine at work). Computer with its delete and backspace buttons spoils and makes me afraid of typo.
  • Mojito is my favorite drink! As a mojito aficionado, I have a group of friends with whom I regularly discuss various things (from anatomy to social sciences) over mojito.
  • I am not a clairvoyant but sometimes I see someone else’s future, including my own. For me it is never easy to learn that someone close to you is going to experience a ‘bad luck’.
  • My grandmother taught me to read newspaper since early age. She only allowed me to read Kompas because the other newspapers couldn’t match Kompas’s quality. I fully (and still) agree with her.
  • I do not want to replace my cheap, ugly and not-so-smart phone with a fancy one. Even if people complain about it.
  • Haryanto Arbi used to be my favorite badminton player. Back then, he was kinda cute. Not to mention that he had a powerful jump smash.
  • I prefer dress rather than pants. Contrary to the popular belief, the former gives me freedom to move faster.

As required by the rules above, I have to pass this award to another 15 bloggers, but since I am too busy to find 15 bloggers, I will pass it to one blogger than has written so many interesting articles in elegant English, Eva, si Koper Biru.

The first 14 persons who read this post (be honest with yourself) are more than welcome to write. You might write in Bahasa Indonesia or in English.


[EF#10] Thing Indonesians Like: Kerupuk

This week challenge’s theme is to share our favorite Indonesians cuisine. Choosing one is never easy task, so I decided to write thing that most of Indonesians like, kerupuk that plays an important role in Indonesian dishes.

To read about this blog challenge, please visit this link.

A colleague, who is also a friend, recently asked me why Indonesians eat meal with a cracker, kerupuk. This friend has lived in many countries and never seen such passion to kerupuk. I could not answer that question and honestly, it makes me feel like I am a fail Indonesian for not knowing the reason. My guess, we love kerupuk because it is savory and goes well with our high-sugar rice.

Kerupuk is made of starch with combination of rice, garlic, prawn, fish, buffalo skin, cow skin or pork skin. The making process requires a lot of sun, because the thinly sliced dough must be sun-dried first before being deep fried. The sun and hot oil are the two important keys to its crunchiness. On the second thought, oil is not they key because some kerupuk do not need oil, thanks to the hot sand that used to fry them.

Finding kerupuk is relatively easy because it is sold everywhere, from a small shop (warung) to a high-end supermarket. The selling price varies from one thousand rupiah (per piece) to up to forty thousand rupiah (per package), depends on the quantity as well as the ingredients. As I mentioned above, Indonesians, from the poor to the rich, love the savory cracker that comes in many different shapes, big, small, curly, round and square. It also comes in different colors such as light red, orange, yellow, baby blue, light green and white.


Certain skills and experience are required to pair the food with the best kerupuk. Good combinations will certainly maximize the enjoyment of the food. Kerupuk kulit sapi for instance will not go well for gado-gado (salad with peanut dressing), bubur ayam (chicken porridge) and chicken noodles. While kerupuk udang, can be paired with almost anything. However, papeda can never be paired with any kerupuk as it is will ruin the taste. One day, when the kerupuk elevated to fine dining, we should train people to be kerupukier. Like sommelier, this person will be responsible to select the best combination of kerupuk and meal.

Kerupuk can also enjoyed on its own, as a snack. Some people also enjoy it with sambal (chilli sauce), broth, or other dipping sauces. Indonesians are not the only one who enjoys it as snack. Malaysian, Vietnamenese, Chinese and Thai enjoy kerupuk as well. Surprisingly, few Irish shops sell Indonesian kerupuk. The taste however is different, maybe because it’s made in UK that has very limited sunlight.

During Indonesian Independence Day which celebrated every 17 August, kerupuk plays important role in a popular competition, kerupuk eating contest. This competition is about being the faster kerupuk eater. It sounds easy, but it is actually pretty challenging. The participants, hands-tied and sometimes blindfolded (oh now I sound kinky), have to eat the often-stale-kerupuk that is dangled above the mouth-level.

Now that you know the importance of kerupuk in our life, tell me, what’s your favorite kerupuk?


Thing Indonesians Like: Massage

Indonesians love massage [not all Indonesians though], that it might need to be included in our basic needs along with the food, shelter and clothing. The country itself is a heaven for massage proven by the massage parlors that spreading around the cities and house call massage that available 24/7 at an affordable price. The parlors offer different range of massages, from traditional to weird (like snake body massage). They also offer the happy-ending massage (we call them massage plus plus), but in my opinion, all massage should be called happy ending, if it not making the patron happy, then the do not bother to pay.

For Indonesians, massage must be introduced at tender age. A visit to Dukun Pijat Bayi (massage therapist for baby), for the first massage, could take place when the baby is only few days old. There is a belief that the younger babies introduced to massage, the bigger the chance to love it.

Massage is not only for relaxation, but also belief to be the remedy for any illness. Stroke, broken bone and cancer are only few illnesses than can be cure by massage therapist.  People who are ill believe that massage works better than the doctor. Not to mention that the fee of the therapist is less expensive than the medical doctor.

Massage also helps women to conceive. The massage therapist who is specialized on pregnancy focuses to move the position of the womb to be closer with the vagina and allow the sperm to run a shorter track. I know this might not be so logical for doctor. In my opinion, massage is not the only thing that woman needs; she also needs to practice, practice and practice and at the same time the man has to ensure the quality of his sperm.

Women are not the only one benefited from massage because it is beneficial for men and their ‘best buddy’. Mak Erot (Mrs. Erot) was once praised for her help to enlarge man most vital part, not the brain, but their manhood. What I learned from Google, she massaged the penis and like magic, it grew bigger. Mak Erot passed away few years ago. Her departure, I am sure, regretted by a lot of men who did not have the chance to enjoy her magical hands.

Most of Dukun Pijat Bayi, if not all, are not certified therapists. They got their massage skills from the other therapist or from their parents. There are also Dukun Pijat Tiban, which got the ability to massage from the ‘sky’; the ability falls from the sky. Hence the name tiban (Javanese. Something that falls from somewhere; out of the blue). We should all be grateful that Indonesia only have Dukun Tiban and do not have Doctor Tiban, nor President Tiban.

People also attend courses to be a massage therapist; some of them are people with visual impairments. Despite the fact that people with visual impairment can do almost everything, Indonesian educational system underestimated and prevented them to study other subjects. Thankfully, things are changing now.

The weirdest massage in my life happened years ago when I had a back pain. I was recommended to have a massage session with an old lady who, according to what people say, has special power. I followed their suggestion and ended with a regret. The lady spitted on my back without my consent. The spittle, for sure, did not relieve me for any back pain but I do believe she has power. She made me pay, 5 dollars, for the awful service, that’s how powerful she is.

Massage is our basic need. If one could not afford it then one can seek help from other. So do not be surprised if you see a person massaging someone else’s shoulder at the parking lot. They are just fulfilling their basic need!


EF#7 – Sidi Goma Gujarat

The ubiquitous mobile phones and social media have been providing the photographer enthusiastic with a platform to take and share their photos. Today, people take photos of everything and share it with everyone through instagram, whatsapp, flickr, facebook and other media. When the Admins of BEC announced that this week theme will be ‘snap and tell a story’, I decided to pick an old picture that might wow you and at the same time tell you an interesting and (I hope) a new story.

The picture that I chose was taken during the Festival of India in Jakarta back in October 2009. At that time, the Indian Embassy in Jakarta organized a festival of India to show us a glimpse of the diverse cultures of India. To support the festival, the Indian Embassy in Jakarta brought cultural performers, including dance troupes and traditional musicians from all over India to Jakarta and if I am not mistaken, Bali.

One of the dance troupes was called Sidi Goma Gujarat; the group was only consist of 5 tribal dancers and 4 drummers of East-African origin who has been living in Gujarat India since 8th centuries. All performers were men. I read that normally the group consists of 12 performers, including 8 dancers and 4 drummers.

Sidi or Siddi means slaves, but there are those who argue that it means master. Back in the 8th Centuries, the Africans were brought to India as slaves, concubines or merchants. Due to their quality, they were also brought to India to do security related jobs, like soldiers, palace guards or personal body guards. Today, there are more than 30,000 Sidis lives in Gujarat and they are well known as a devout Sufi Moslem.

Although Sidis, who are also known as Habshi, have successfully assimilated with their home country and speak the local language, they are often discriminated. This is due to their appearance, which does not have any Indian characteristic. In one of the articles that I read, the Sidi Goma performers were once accused of as Niger group who forged and travel with Indian passports. Sidis also often have to pay more than the local because the sellers think they are tourists, not local. According to, Sidis are also stereotyped as “lazy, potentially talented in music and sports, but incapable of intellectual endeavor”.

The dance and the sacred music of Sidi Goma Gujarat usually performed during rituals at the Shrines to Bava Gor, the patron Saint of the Sidi. During the performance, the dancers and the drummer were dressed in peacock feather skirt and their faces were painted. The peacock feather skirt is an Indian influence, while face paint is African.

Contrary to what I thought, the dance was far from serious and very playful. They sang, danced and had fun like a group of ecstatic young boys. The humor was also at the heart of the dance; in one of the dance parts, they stuck out their tongues and posed for us. Unfortunately, I could not take good picture of them posing because I was sitting far from the center of the stage. At the end of the dance, one of the dancers tossed a coconut in the air and cracked is with his head. I snapped few pictures but my favorite one is when the dancer was in the air while the coconut broke and the water splashed all around his body. I was so thankful that I was far from the center stage. Had I sat in front of the center stage, I would have snapped a different picture; a less dramatic one.

Ailsa_Festival of India

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!



[EF#6 WEEKLY CHALLENGE] Alter Ego a la Syahrince

When I first heard about Blog English Club (BEC), a weekly blog challenge, I did not immediately join the initiative because I was not sure (and I still am not) if I could commit another few hours for a blog post. However, I decided to join and to write whenever I have time. For those who are interested to improve your English, please visit this link to learn about the initiative and to meet the brilliant people behind it.

This week, the Administrators of BEC decided ‘alter-ego’ as a theme and challenge us to imagine our alter-ego.  It is hard for me to imagine something without really knowing the subject, so I decided to  google about alter-ego. I found few articles and all of them have successfully confused me. Alter ego, which means an alternative personality, is a way for people to dream about the things and live the life they could not have. Although I do not know how, the alter ego helps people to reach their dream and give them courage to live the live that they want. To me, the latter sounds scary.

From my little research, I found that those who have been deprived and could not get what they want, usually, have an alter ego. Since I am happy with my life and my attainments, I do not think I could imagine my alter ego. Like many other people, I want to achieve more things in life, but again, I do not need an alter ego to achieve that. I am capable of doing and achieve those things. Oh boy, I sound so snob like a celebrity.

Speaking of celebrities, many of them are known to have alter ego. Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce, while Katy Perry has Kathy Beth Terry. Sadly, my favorite celebrity, Princess Syahrince does not have any alter ego. I guess not yet, because *drum roll* I am about to create one for her!!

Since Syahrince is obsessed with the word cantik, I would name her alter ego as Chantique. Physically, she would be as beautiful as Syahrince. Unlike Syahrince who like to put thick make up on her face, her alter ego would be allergic to any make-up, even the most expensive one. A touch of make-up would make her face swollen like a dead elephant.

Most of you know that Syahrince likes expensive cars like Lamborghini. Unfortunately, the alter ego would not know how to drive because she suffers from kinetosis, an illness due to the motion. The only means of transport that would not make her sick is motorcycle. So picture this, Syahrince without make-up, sitting on the back of motorcycle taxi from Bogor to Pasar Senen, Ambassador Mall and the fakeshionista heaven, Pasar Senen.

alter ego

Contrary to Syahrince, Chantique detests Birkin bags and adores animal. She would be an animal activist, like Bridgitte Bardot. Consequently, she would throw an garage sale, to clear the Syahrince’s collection. The money raised from that sale would be used for rehabilitation crocodiles population in Papua. How very noble!

Finally, Chantique would still maintain the Instagram and regularly post pictures from her activities. She would not post glamorous pictures or silly video but would build a  reputation as a philanthropist and humanitarian-wanna-be by posting photos around animal shelters, refugee camps and orphanages. The hash tags for these pictures would be #Donated1000k #MyDonationIsInUSDNotIDR #GaveMyChannelHandBagForCharity #HermesSoldCrocodilesHappy #SoldMyLamborghiniForAShelter #MakeMeUNAmbassador #IWannaReplaceJolie #IamBetterThanAngelinaJolie

Oh sh*t, the alter ego loves to brag too, in a different way. Somebody please shoot Mbak Chantique, I could not stand her!



The writer’s blog tour: My writing process

I was invited to join this blog tour by Si Koper Biru, Eva, an Indonesian Engineer who lives in Copenhagen. She writes many interesting stories about travel, living in Scandinavia and recently 30-day movie challenges. Visit her post about this tour here and follow the trail back and forth.

 The rule of this post is simple; I have to answer 4 questions related to my writing process. I researched googled to find out more about this blog tour to give me a clearer idea. It appears that this tour was actually for a writer (book writer, poet, novelist; someone who gets money from making beautiful writing). But well, blogger writes and put beautiful words together, so let’s do this tour!

What am I working on?

I have few draft posts sitting quietly on my folder, from dukun to my travel experiences. The one post that I am going to publish soon (yet I have not drafted the outline) is a post on community gallery near Borobudur. This gallery produces few interesting things, including ceramic designed by Jenggala and jam. The jam is special, because the recipe was bought from Kou, a jam shop in Ubud. At the end of this post, I will give away a beautiful Borobudur name card holder for one of you. So keep reading.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is not only influenced by my own observation and experience, but also by the people whom I met. As you know, I do love people watching. I enjoy observing how people behave, react, engage and write (and criticize) it. When writing for post not related to human behaviour, travel for example, I try to put the human element. Why human? Because the beach from one side of the world to the other side looks almost the same, it is the people that actually make the beach different.

There are many bloggers who write posts about human behaviour, but I guess what makes my blog different from other is because I can be very sharp. A good friend said that it is because karetnya tiga, jadi pedes banget.

Why do I write what I do?

Initially, I wanted to write about the life as a wife of foreigner, ‘binibule’ (pardon the use of the word bule here are there in this blog, but I, like many other Indonesians, intend neither harm nor discrimination), the challenges, the excitements and the cultural shocks. However, I found out that it is not easy to write about relationship between Indonesian and foreigner. It is much easier to post about human behaviour, travel, or any other random things. So here I am writing anything that pop up in my head and trying to change the world with my posts. Eh.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with a lot of observations and conversations. I talk with foreigners who live in Indonesia, listening to their adventures, experiences and of course, their complains. In addition to that, I observe the way people behave and list all the key words in my Moleskine that I bring around inside my wallet. Then, during weekend (when I am not travelling), I develop the outline and expand it. Travel does not stop me from writing though; I am more productive when I am on the airplane, as long as I am not seated next to an annoying person.

When writing, there are rules that I set. First, it has to be informative; if it is not informative, then it has to be at least funny. Secondly, I have to at least draft two posts during weekend and schedule them to be published during the week, at around 11 am. The time selected, because I would like you to have something to read before or during the lunch. Lastly, my post should contain at least 500 words and less than 1000 words. Since I set the rule, I am allowed to break it; so do not try to complain.

In order to continue this post, I would like to nominate two persons. Noni Nowak, an Indonesian blogger who lives in Medan has been nominated but she hasn’t posted anything. So let me give her a bit of pressure and ask her to write. I am sure we are all want to know how she get her inspiration and ideas to write interesting posts. I also would like to nominate a writer, a travel writer, Fabiola Lawalata, who has been travelling to more than 60 countries with her Indonesian passport.



Things Indonesians Do when Eating

I have a lot of respect to the nannies in Indonesia, their job is tough. In order to feed their employer’s kids, or should I call them the Queen and the King, they have to run around the mall, wedding hall, house, park or other places, while holding a bowl full of rice. The nannies, who are often wearing white, pink, or blue uniform with a rucksack on their back, have an important job to chase the kids and to feed them. Although we, Indonesians consider eat while walking (or even running) as rude, when it comes to kids, we make an exception.

Some, if not most, kids in Indonesia are not taught to eat by themselves. They need to be fed so that the nannies have job  so that their clothes and the tablecloth remain clean. Apparently, appearance is more important that the ability to be independent. Being fed feels good, the hands could freely doing anything else, while the mouth can chew the food. Maybe that is why many people do not want their parents to stop it until their adulthood. The menu however is replaced by cars, money, apartment, house, allowance for the monthly bills, or  a job. Providing for children is never wrong, but at some point the parents must teach their children to stand on their own feet.


If the West opt for seating dinner during wedding party, many Indonesians opt for standing party. Some people might find it impolite, but standing party is the only way to accommodate hundreds if not thousands guests. In most of our wedding parties, chairs and tables are only reserved for VIP guests or family of the bride and groom. Eating while standing is impolite, but again, we make another exception.

Speaking about wedding, there a general rule about it, when invited, eat every single thing served at the buffet table. Mix the salad with the rice, pasta, beef, chicken, fish and the soup. If one can put everything in one plate, why put it in different plates? Our desire to mix food, might have been the reason for the invention of nasi campur, rice which served with many condiments. This meal allow us to taste as many food as possible. This might explain why set menu is not popular in this country, it is just too boring and not varied enough. Therefore, the next time you see Indonesia seating in a fancy French Restaurant, sharing foie gras or steak please do not be surprised. As I mentioned above, Indonesians tend to want to taste as many food as possible. Mr. Foreigner Chef, please do not complain about this. 

Any foreigner Chef who work in Indonesia should also never be offended when Indonesians put ketchup on foie gras or salad. No matter how good (and how expensive) the food is, if it is not spicy, then it does not deserve a place in the stomach. Providing a bottle of ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, sambal on the table is a must.  Italian might find it sinful to put sambal in spaghetti carbonara, but again, if they want to rest peacefully in the stomach, then it has to be spicy. One might find joy in juicy steak, while other find the comfort in a spicy steak.

Beside proper three times per day meal, Indonesians also have ngemil time! If tea times come in the morning or in the afternoon, ngemil or snacking, comes at anytime. We love it so much that we do it all the time, even during working hour. Having gorengan, kerupuk (chips), keripik (also chips), bread, and/or other snack during working hour is important for us. Never mind the silence that needed by the other colleagues, just keep chewing.

Having a box of snack during meeting is also a common practice here. An institution or company might be considered miser if there is no snack served. Should there is a budget limitation, then at least coffee or tea should be provided. Make sure you put few spoonful of sugar to show that your company is wealthy enough.

Another interesting thing about Indonesians is that many of us remember the lesson taught from our tender age: to burp after meal. These babies who have the elephant’s memory, bring the lesson to their adulthood and do it anywhere they want. Some do it at warung (small and often less expensive eatery), while some do it at restaurant. Basically everywhere. Burping, sometimes, is not considered rude here.

Finally, foreigners are often surprised by our table manner, custom and etiquette. They often feel that Indonesians are just impolite. They are able to afford expensive meal but lack of manner. They also find it weird that we eat pre-cooked and re-heated meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What these people should remember is that we, Indonesians enjoy food in different way, it doesn’t mean that we do it better, but not worse either. We just eat different things in different way and we are happy with it.

If there is only one thing that you should complain about our eating manner is when one could not close the mouth while chewing. That you can complain!

Thing Indonesians Like: Karaoke

I have never been to any karaoke place outside Indonesia, but I heard, karaoke outside Asia means singing in a karaoke pub, in front of strangers. We do it differently; we rent a private room equipped with modern karaoke facilities. The price range from USD 7 – 30, depend on its capacity. As you might be aware, Indonesians tend to go in a big group with friends, family, relatives or colleagues rather than in small group. The more, the merrier and of course, the cheaper it gets.

The family I explained above is a family karaoke and Jakarta also offers a non-family karaoke. We call this ‘karaoke plus plus’ which usually more expensive because it involves girl(s). One will get a right to select as many girls as he wants for the sake of pleasure. There are many awful ways of selecting the girls, including by point a girl(s) in the aquarium or the photo (either in the album or on the wall). Another way of selecting is by requesting them to line up in the karaoke room and choose the one that suitable. The price for the girl and the service are negotiable, but it is usually above USD 50. Karaoke plus-plus usually provide shower in the private karaoke room is. What an excercise eh that one should shower after singing?


karaoke room; picture was taken from internet

Private karaoke room provides freedom to sing, no matter how terrible the voice is. For many Indonesians, karaoke is place to release stress by screaming singing and having fun with the closed ones. Some Indonesians even go beyond having fun and consider karaoke as a serious exercise for their vocal and for their confidence level. So once they get out from the karaoke room, they think the have wonderful voice and capability to perform anywhere.  These overconfidence people will usually grab any opportunity to torture entertain others with their awful voice.

I recently attended a wedding where relatives of the newlywed (relatives are easily identified by the same-color dress they wore) took the microphone and sang a sad song that ruins the festivity of a wedding. Ideally, any single sad song should be forbade from a joyful occasion. However, many Indonesians do not care about ruining someone else’s wedding party, all they care about is to perform. Anyway, this person sang confidently with her terrible voice and a very bad English pronunciation. IMHO, it was a disastrous performance, yet no one (including me) stopped this person. I guess our society is so tolerant, or too tolerant. We would be more than happy to see people humiliating itself in public and fulfilling their need to be exist.

Wedding singers in this country also love to invite anyone in the wedding party to come to the stage and sing for the newlyweds. My brother did it better, he forbade everyone, including the relatives to sing. He even threatened to cut the band’s fee.  Was it effective? I say it was with a little hiccup. One person still managed to go to the stage and stole (literally) the moment by singing Titanic’s famous theme song. For the love of God, my brother is starting his journey and the last thing he wanted, I’m sure, is a sinking ship. Btw, she brought her own keyboardist.

To all the brides-and-grooms to be, please stop your relatives and friends from ruining your party. Ensure that your wedding singer(s) wouldn’t invite any stranger to the stage. Forbid them if necessary. Remember, you would want a sweet and memorable wedding. If you foresee that your relatives will still hijack the stage then hire a violinist who can only play classical music.

Until then, please refrain yourself from hurting someone else’s ears.



Disclaimer: Not all Indonesians like karaoke and behave like the description mention above.