The Wedding Gift

As you might be aware, Indonesians love to throw a big wedding. The bigger the better. Inviting thousand people to a three-hour party is something that considered normal for many people. The Indonesian way of calculating invitation is not one invitation valid for two people, but one invitation valid to a bunch of people, they are father, mother, son, daughter and the nanny (ies).  Any bride and groom should ensure that they will not running out of the food, thus, they have to empty their bank account. If they do not have enough money, they should not worry because parents in Indonesia are are always ready to borne the damage. Consequently, most of the invitees are the colleagues and friends of both parents and that the presents should go to parents who have invested their money.

Closer friends usually give a personal present like jewel (my favorite), tea set, spa voucher, hotel voucher of even lingerie.  While the not-so-close friends or even stranger (to the bride and groom) normally give cash. The amount is varied from five to thousand dollar, depend on the financial situation of the guests. Surprisingly, there are always guests who come empty-handed or those who unashamedly giving an envelope without neither money nor name.

Anyway, the money which is supposed to help the bride and group starting their new life (or paying debt if they take loan to hold the wedding party) is often become source of dispute among the parents. Parents who spent invested more are often feel they are entitled for more return. There also parents who spent nothing, but forcing the bride and groom to share the gift with them because they feel that the gift are from their friends. There’s even parents who took away the money box right after the wedding party because they are afraid that parents from the other side might take it away.


Forgive me, but I didn’t know remember where did I get this photo

The Chinese Indonesians do differently. They invented a numbering mechanism in the envelope. Guests do not drop the envelope to the box directly, but hand it to the usher. The usher will be the one responsible to put the envelope in the box. Before dropping the envelope, the usher will put a number (using sticker or pen) based on the wedding guest book. For Chinese Indonesian, knowing the exact amount of the present is very important. In the future, when the guests hold a wedding or funeral, they will “return” back the money. So if you give empty envelope you will get empty envelope. Smart!

Bule usually gives money. They usually estimate the cost of the meal and give a little bit more to help the bride and groom cover the expenses. When the guest come as couple, the amount of the gift always doubled. In their custom, making RSVP to a wedding and not showing up is unacceptable. If one does that, then one has to send the gift as ‘compensation’. That’s why when bules don’t have money they would prefer not come to the wedding (and present an empty envelope). In the USA, guests sometimes put the receipt of the present so if they bride and groom do not like the present, they can always return it to the shop. It is also common to register gifts from certain shop so guests could easily pick present that match with budget. Please note that not all bules give presents, there are always bules who do not give gift or give crazy present. Here is one of the example of bridezila vs crazy guest. Both, in my opinion, are crazy.

Some people see wedding party as a way of celebrating their love with the world and do not care about the present. Some only want to spend it with closer friends and do not care about the present. The presence of close friends and family members in the wedding is already a present for the bride and the groom that will treasured for the rest of their life.

What’s your favorite wedding gift?


Thing Indonesians Like: Whitening

One of the first comment that people say when the baby born is the skin. People adore it when the baby skin is white or even pink. If you are born in this country with dark skin then you are ugly. Beauty, in Indonesia, defined as white skin. The people are so obsess with white skin that  in a death ceremony, the albino buffalo is better appreciated rather than the regular one. The price of the white skin buffalo is even higher than the dark one.

Indonesians, both man and woman, want to be like that albino buffalo. They want the white skin and once they have it, their “price” in the society will rise & they can be beautiful. Well, who does not want to be beautiful? In order to attain the absolute white skin, these people do everything, from swallowing a pill to putting anything with whitening on their skin. They do not care if the product contains mercury.

The beauty producers see this obsession as a great opportunity, so they created various product with whitening. Toothpaste is not the only product that contains whitening, here, soap, body lotion, facial wash, deodorant and shaving cream are contain whitening too. Nobody buy things without whitening. Those who have white skin,should always maintain their skin color by puting more and more whitening and be as white as ghost. The motto is clear: the whiter the prettier.

Beside putting lot of whitening products on their skin, these vampires also prevent themselves from sun exposure. Well, they are vampire, so they need to be afraid of the sun. Umbrella, long sleeves and shades are suppose to be their bestfriend. Interestengly, Indonesians do not like to bring umbrella and wear sunglasses. Indonesians only wear than when they are on holiday in Bali. As for the long sleeves, Indonesians go beyond that. Take a look at bikers in Jakarta. In order to minimize the tanning effect of sunshine, bikers put on gloves and jacket before cruising the city. To put on cover when the weather is -5°C is not crazy, but to put the jacket and gloves in a tropical country when the weather is 32°C? Well, only Indonesians would do that.

The rich people do more than just putting whitening cream. They throw away their money to the doctor’s pocket. Rich vampires in Indonesia have themselves injected with vitamin C as it is claimed could make the skin lighter. An ampoule of vitamin C every certain time wil do the job. Those who have more endurance (and money) usually opt for an infusion bag. In Jakarta, you can always request a doctor to come to your house and do the IV therapy for whitening your skin. Patient happy, doctor is happier. Ka-ching..ka-ching.

Indonesian girls who are in relationship, or even married to white skin man, are always accused of improving the quality of their offspring. People always remark on how beautiful the future kids will be, the skin will be white and the nose will be long. I do not like that comment because I am not marrying my fiance because of his skin. I agree to marry him because he is wonderful. Wanna know how wonderful he is? Well, he is the only man who ever say that my skin is beautiful. When I told my 19-year-old cousin about this, she said: “No wonder Indonesian girls like to be with bules. They see things that are considered imperfection as perfection.”

Embrace your skin people and throw away those whitening lotion!

Thing Indonesians Like – Maid

The biggest hunting tournament in Indonesia has just begun: the maid hunting! And no, we are not excited about it.

Attended by millions desperate housewives, who usually live in a big city, the annual event, always take place after Lebaran (Ied Al Fitri/ the Moslem Festival at the end of  Ramadan). Thousand, if not millions domestic workers usually head to their home two weeks before Lebaran, leaving their employer in desperation as they often do not want to do domestic workers. Some of this workers promise to return back to their employer, but many choose to find a new employer. One who can offer better wage and better condition.

In this patriarchal country, men do not do chores. As a consequence, women, whether they are working or not, have to do it all by themselves. Many of Indonesian women are not born to manage a household, so they rely on the assistance of the maid. A maid’s tasks in Indonesia are not only to clean the house, but also to cook and raise the children. That is why to hire one is never enough. Should there is kid in the house, a baby sitter is normally hired. A rich family will  also hire driver, security and gardener. For many middle and upper class Indonesians, a life without domestic staff are not worth living. I am too sarcastic.


Bibi, who survived the torture from her employer and as a consequence has a hearing impairment. She does not understand sign language and reads lips to communicate with others. She is illiterate and my cousins and I took the pleasure of teaching her how to write and to read.

Forgive me for using the word maid and not domestic worker. I do not mean to insult the domestic worker, but I chose the word to to portray the real situation. Unfortunately, in Indonesia domestic workers are never considered as workers. They are merely pembantu or assistant. They do not have working agreement and their working hours are not clear. They are often have to work more than 8 hours per day and have no holiday during the weekend. Not to mention that they receive neither health insurance nor annual leaves. To make it worse, they are underpaid.

The government of Jakarta sets the minimum regional wage at 2.217.000 rupiahs (USD 222). However, live-in-maids in Jakarta receive only USD 30 – 100/ month, while baby sitters receive a bit more, from USD 120 – 240/ month. Living decently in Jakarta with that amount of money is nearly impossible but these maids, who are often uneducated, have no other choice. There is no job in their village thus, they have to work in the big cities and take whatever offered. The one with experience usually receives higher wage while the young one receive less, still they are underpaid. Note that the young maid can be as young as 13-16 years old, yes child labor exists in the household.

During lebaran, the demand for maids are very high but the supply is very low. Under this circumstance, the price for the temporary maid (or infal pembantu) is rocketing, sometimes as high as USD 10/ day. Interestingly, Indonesians are willing to pay. I remember there’s one cruel person who hired a maid during this lebaran period. This person made the maid clean her house in the morning, then send the maid to her sisters’ houses, and her cousin’s in the afternoon until the evening. She rotated the maid to different houses and make her, the maid, exhausted. The maid of course left after two days (and she moved to our house, full of anger and hatred).

When I lived in Medan, I remember that one of my aunt’s temporary maid does not know how to use stove. The maid, who was going to work in Malaysia, leaked the gas to the whole kitchen. I had to unplugged the regulator to avoid the explosion. Fortunately, there’s no flame and everyone were safe (what were I think!). This maid was going to go abroad with no knowledge on how to use household appliance. Unfortunately, many maids in Indonesia do not know how to do things and the maid agency does not bother to train them. These type of maids, who have no knowledge, are often abused by the impatient employers.

The demand for maid is not only in a household, in my kost the landlord provide maids too. One maid for 10 rooms (there are 50 rooms in my kost). They clean the rooms and do the laundry everyday, except on Sunday and bank holiday. Although they are lucky to have better working condition, they are still underpaid.

I asked around why the employers do not pay wage as per the government regulation. According to them, it is because they are live-in maid; they got free room and do not need to pay for their meal. Poor them, they have to live in small room, eat the leftover of the employer (oh yeah some employers are that cruel) and underpaid. Sounds like slavery eh?

Twelve years ago, I was at a friend’s house and we were going to have lunch together. I took a plate in the kitchen and put some rice on it. My friend said, “You took the wrong plate. That’s a plate for the maid, not for us”.

In Indonesia, maids are considered second class that even the plate has to be different. What kind of human being does that?


Thing Indonesians Like: Fake Handbag

A shop assistant in Switzerland recently refused to show an outrageously expensive bag to Oprah Winfrey. The Indonesians fakeshionista should thank Oprah and the shop assistant for this  saga, because soon, the bag will be available in Indonesia. What the fakeshionista should be grateful of is that the price won’t be as expensive as the original. The original bag price tag is USD 38,000, while in Mangga Dua (the Mecca for fake bags), the Jeniffer Aniston handbag – I predict- will be sold for around USD 38.

Jen Handbag

As you might be know, my beloved country, Indonesia, is a home to fake designer goods. Not only bags, we also produce shoes, wallet, luggage, shades, even make up! This country is indeed a home (and heaven) for  people who devoted their  life to fake fashion designer brand & dress according to the trend of the fake stuff. To honour these people, I coined the word: fakeshionista; everything has to be fake.

Although some of our fake designer products were made locally, there are many thing that are imported from China, Korea or Hong Kong. Unfortunately, I do not know the differences between Korea or Hong Kong bag, but my guess the quality is difference. Hence, expensive price. Fake products imported from Korea and Hong Kong is indeed more expensive than the the locally made. Apart from the country of origin, fake bags in Indonesia are classified into different level based on the quality, material and the finishing product. Quality, or Kwalitas in Bahasa Indonesia, is always shortened as KW (pronunciation: kaa – way). In the fake world, bags rank start from KW Mirror and Ori (original), KW super, KW semi super, KW 1, KW 2, KW 3. KW 3 offers the lowest quality and will only cost you around USD 5 – 10

A real fakeshionista would not go for those cheap handbags as this person usually quite loaded. One  will go for the premium one, KW ori (original) or mirror. The kw ori handbag is the top-notch bag in the fake world. It is made with real leather, while the cheaper one uses synthetic leather. This premium handbag usually sold from USD 300. Fake Hermes bag for instance could reach up USD 600. The same price for a nice bag (maybe two) from Marc by Marc Jacob, Kate Spade or Michael Kors. But again, a real fakeshionista will always go for the fake one.

Fashion designers issues authenticity card for their design. The fakeshion designer, follows suit, and issue the same card. Fakeshion designer will do anything to catch up with the real designer. If the original brand has only one or two colors, fake bags will offer better selection of colors and models. Like fashion, the fake stuff does not last long. In less than a year, the fake bag will lose its humidity and start to crack. Unfortunately, the real fashion designer could not produce this kind of bag. If they could, they definitely will make a lot of money as people will buy more often.

Although Indonesia is a heaven for fake bags, this country also produce amazing bags, even Kate Spade trusts Indonesia company to produce their collection. To hunt the locally made bags, one should regularly visit handicraft exhibition in JCC. Be warned though that it will make you broke as there are too many good things. My favorite is Inacraft, the biggest handicraft exhibition held regularly every May. Thanks to Inacraft, I now know a few  local brands, some are Yogya based leather shops who produce good bag at a relatively cheap price (compare to the KW Ori). Despite our good quality products, there are not many people who like to buy local, for them 20 fake bags are way better than one real bag. One surely hope that this will change.

A fake bag will still be a fake bag, but Indonesians takes pride in buying fake stuff. The cheaper, the better.


Thing Indonesians Like – Gadgets

Indonesians love to talk, with anyone including stranger, about everything including their personal life. I once met a girl in the airport in Vietnam who shared her life story, including her price for short time. Yes, she talked too much. Well, most people don’t read, so the best way to kill the time is by talking.

In our language, the act of talking, discussing and gossiping are translated into one word: ngerumpi. We love it so much and back then, Yahoo Messenger was our very close friend. Until, blackberry (BB) arrived in Indonesia. BB instantly becomes a popular gadget as the supposed-to-be smartphone, not only provide us with a mean of communication calls blackberry messenger, it also  let us to install the Yahoo Messenger. The blackberry messenger becomes our new hero as it fulfill our needs for ngerumpi. 


The arrival of the not-so smart blackberry changes not-so-smart people’s habit too. People’s eyes are constantly glued to the tiny monitor and they could not leave the blackberry in peace at their hand bag or their pocket. For a brief moment it becomes a symbol of economical status as only those with money could afford it. Mind you, back in early 2009, the price of blackberry curve 8310 was around USD 600, while the income per capita was only USD 2,590.

Out of the blue,  Indonesians act like a CEO of a very big company who’s about to loose a good deal with a big client and thus could not miss any important message. But here, we are not afraid to loose a good deal, what we fear is to be left alone and not updated with the latest gossip and other not-important-at-all news.

The other change is that today, sharing phone number is no longer enough. It becomes important to share KakaoTalk, Whatsapp, Line and blackberry PIN number. To fit the new era, people are racing to buy a new blackberry (or now android). They are all running towards a new world, where ignoring others in real life is common. Communication works better through messenger and people are no longer worry about their inability to see other’s emotion, thanks to the cute emoticons.

This new way of communication bothers me (and I am sure others) a lot. I found it very rude to be on the same table, sharing food, but busy with their own mobile phone. Today, all we care about is how other comments on the pictures of food we recently upload in the social media, rather than the human connection. Can you believe that even my dermatologist cares more about her gadget rather than the patient. She was once excuse herself for few minutes to care for her virtual pet. Poor soul. However, most of Indonesians find it not very rude to answer the phone on the dining table. If you are caught up in such situation, don’t bother to excuse yourself, just sit calmly and response the phone loudly. People will not complain as they understand the importance of the call.

When meeting close friends, I usually ask them to stack the phones on the middle of the table. The first person to touch the mobile phone should pay the bill.  I usually ended up paying the bill because no one wants to touch the phone even until the bill comes, but at least we had a real conversation. There are of course the moment when friends and I are hanging in the coffee shop for the sake of sitting, free wi-fi, OK coffee while our thumb busy with the tiny monitor.

Credit cards, whom Indonesian love dearly and could not live without, are the life safer for those who could not afford the gadget. A normal Indonesian usually has more than one credit card and credit card companies are competing each other, offering the best deal. This deal including installment for smart phone, ipad or laptop. The real Indonesian will go for 0% installment, from 3 months to 12 months. The first credit card is usually allocated for the blackberry installment while the other credit card for Ipad or Galaxy Tab installment. Life is easy, until the bill comes. Anyway,  a normal Indonesians usually have two phones (just combine blackberry, iphone and android), an ipad/ a galaxy tab, and a power bank.

The monthly bill for the phone is not a problem. Provider like Telkomsel, XL, Three and Indosat are offering affordable internet package for blackberry, smartphone or ipad. Users could freely select the package that suit their budget. XL even offer IDR 500/ day for 2 MB. If one really want to save the money (to pay the installment), then visiting the nearest Starbucks or Seven Eleven for free wifi is a must.

Finally, I notice that many parents in Indonesia love to share their gadget with their kids. The parents could have a peaceful lunch or dinner and at the same time, the kids could have fun. The other guests in the restaurant are also benefiting from the the scream-free environment. I do not judge them for that, after all, they are all their kids, not mine.

Do you often check your social media and ignoring your friends who are sitting close to you?

Thing Indonesians Like: Oleh-oleh

“So you are going to Medan?”

“Yes, I am going to Medan”

Ah…..oleh-oleh ya.”

And then from the other corner someone will say: “Don’t forget to buy bika ambon, bolu meranti, lapis legit. Ohhh and Risol Gogo.”

That’s a conversation that you will hear anywhere in this country when you make the mistake of telling others that you are going somewhere. Here in Indonesia, it is best to keep your traveling plan with yourself and not share it with others. If you do share your plan, most of the time, you will be bombarded by request of oleh-oleh from close friends, relatives and colleagues. Do not worry about the damage, because it is always borne by the traveller. Oleh-oleh (noun) itself is a present, often delicacies, brought from a place we travelled to.

Even if you are traveling on business trip, oleh-oleh is something that you must buy. In the case of civil servants visiting other government institution, the oleh-oleh is usually bought by the institution visited. Here’s how it usually work: during a meeting you could send the hints by asking the special delicacies from the area. They will then explain what are the famous delicacies, or even the famous cloth material (batik, ikat, songket) and other handicraft. You can response by saying, I’d like to buy a, b, c, d, e,…z. Then ask the important question: “Where can I buy it? can someone drive me there?” and as a courtesy, they will response “ah don’t worry about it, we will take care of that”. A day or two passed by, nothing happened and no one drive you to the shop. Then when you are in the airport someone will bring you few boxes full of snack and handicraft and assist you with the chek-in. Magic! When receiving presents like this, it is rude to say no and all you have to do is saying thank you. Another thing that you shall never ask is to reimburse the damage. Don’t worry about it, it is usually come from the taxpayer’s money!

If you are not so lucky, you will have to do your own research about potential oleh-oleh and locate the shop. Don’t worry about it, even google knows well that we like to buy oleh-oleh.

the options

Even Google Knows that We Like Oleh-oleh

In city like Yogyakarta, you don’t even need to do your research. Just walk around the famous Malioboro street and a pedicab driver will be more than happy to take you to oleh-oleh shop, sometimes for 50 cents. The shop usually gives him incentive that is why he does not mind about the low fare. I interviewed a girl from a Bakpia factory in Yogyakarta, she mentioned that the factory does not give pedicab drivers any money, but give them some lottery coupons. The winners are selected in yearly based and the prize are including washing machine, motor cycle and other presents.

If you are travel to Medan, the same method of oleh-oleh hunting could not be applied. The famous Meranti Roll cake has to be ordered few days in advance. Alternatively you can buy other delicacies such as layer cake (lapis legit), bika ambon, and durian (both the pancake of the fresh the stinky fruit).  I am sure you think that Durian is banned from plane, but in Medan, you can always manage to bring durian with you. The durian seller in Medan  found this clever method: put the durian in the box, seal with cello tape,  then sprinkle some coffee around the box  before wrap it with the plastic. You can walk freely to the airplane and no one is going to notice the durian. Even if the flight attendants do, they will just tolerate it and will never remove you (or the durian) from the airplane. Rumour has it that the crashed of Mandala Air flight in Medan on 2005, was caused by the oleh-oleh, 2 tons of durian.

Other than delicacies you can also bring key holders, snow globe, magnets or traditional clothes material (batik, sasirangan, ikat, songket). A famous oleh-oleh shop usually put famous person photo in their wall. Take example of the Irma Sasirangan in Banjarmasin that I recently visited. Upon entering the shop you will be welcome by the photo of RI 1, Susilo Bambang Yudhono and the first lady, both wearing sasirangan. In Yogya, there’s a huge silver workshop who put the picture of Miss Universe to attract shoppers.

Speaking of key holders, I had more than 10 key holders from different countries in Europe, while I have only one door to lock. I now understand why people opt to buy key holder from Europe, it’s the cheapest thing. In the case of Ireland, it wasn’t that cheap, one key holder cost me Euro 7,5.

If you are in airport and see Indonesians could you queue and rush to the airplane, I am sure you think that we are crazy because there’s no advantage in rushing to go inside the airplane as the seats have been preassigned. You are mistaken! For Indonesians, getting into the airplane as fast as we could is very important, because we need a lot of space for our excess luggage, the boxes of oleh-oleh. The one only hand-carry luggage can not be applied in Indonesia. Anyway a quick way to locate your luggage-especially when there’s no information about the flight number in the conveyer belt- is by seeing the  oleh-oleh boxes. Meranti and Zulaiha from Medan, Aceh Rayeuk from Banda Aceh, Pia Legong from Bali, Manggoes from Surabaya, Bakpia Pathoek from Yogyakarta, and Amplang from Balikpapan.

Bringing oleh-oleh requires lot of energy, time, and money. But to see friends and family enjoying the delicacies, for me, is the greatest joy. This is the Indonesian way to show our love to others.

Tell me, what’s your favorite oleh-oleh?

Thing Indonesians Like: Dirty Toilet

Indonesians never fail to mess up a toilet, no matter how neat and clean it is. Here in Indonesia, toilet considered proper when it has squat toilet and a bucket of water. The former (perhaps) has something to do with the fact that Indonesian went goes to the river to do the performance. Anyway, you can still spot people in the rural Jakarta doing number one, number two, and at the same time washing the dishes and their clothes in the river.

ImageWhen there’s no squat toilet available, Indonesians (and their shoes) squat on the sitting toilet and leave a souvenir behind, the shoe print. Even a sitting toilet with warmer (yes we have that too!) could not escape this horrendeous fate. For the non-squatters, sitting in a toilet-with-a-tatoo is inevitable. To minimize the inconvinience, they usually cover the seater with layers of toilet paper. When the toilet paper is not available, they I do the sitting pose without really sitting. In Yoga, we call that the awkward pose.

After the performance, Indonesians clean themselves with water and the left hand. That is why it is considered rude to hand something with left hand, even for left-handed. From a tender age, we are taught that left hand is a dirty hand or ugly hand.

Although cleaning using toilet paper is not common, Indonesians, especially women, still need toilet paper to dry the V area, of course they wash it with water first. Toilet paper is a luxurious thing that many middle class mall does not provide it, or worse put the tissue roll outside the toilet. Apart from that, the demand for toilet tissue is usually come from restaurant (not the fancy one), because the Indonesian put toilet paper on the dining table. Hey, it’s cheaper! Anyway, it’s forbidden to throw tissue in the toilet bowl, because we don’t have the technology to separate toilet paper and water. Indonesians don’t seem to care about that though, so we put it in the bowl and clog toilet or just throw it on the floor.

Despite the global campaign of UNICEF to wash hand with soap, Indonesians do not bother to do it. Data shows that 96% women wash their hand, but if you go to the mall, you’ll notice that many women will rub their hair after using the toilet and walked away without washing their hands. Yikes!

What about the man? For starter, many Indonesian men don’t lift the toilet seater. I guess they think that they have a long P and could reach the toilet, they are mistaken. When going to unisex toilet, you’ll notice the dribbles all over the toilet seater. What is the other thing that Indonesian man does to mess up the toilet? Well, they like to pee on the corner against the wall, so the stench of the urine will stay forever.

Being an Indonesian, I have two unforgettable toilet experience. One was in a small village in Kasembon Malang. I was told that the toilet is located near the well. I was trying so hard to find the toilet until I realised, there was neither toilet nor wall, just a well, so I did the performance next to the well. My other unforgettable toilet was inside the cow’s barn in a small village in South Malang. Toilet is so unimportant that they put it in the cow’s barn! The smell was bad but the hygiene was worse, the cow’s poop scattered all around the floor. Scary! I’m glad for those experiences, because no matter how dirty the toilet is, I can handle it!

By the way, do you know that the UN designates 19 November as World Toilet Day?

Also read:

Things Indonesian Like: Oleh-oleh

Things Indonesian Like: Photography


Thing Indonesians Like – Photography

I’m sure fifteen years ago only few Indonesians know how to take a picture. Today, almost all Indonesians know how to take pictures, thanks to the person who found gadget. To complete the journey of a so-called photographer, Indonesians share their moment with their friends, acquaintance and people they barely know in social media. Based on my observation, I identified the type of photographer near us and group them. The results are as follow:


Two days ago, I was attending a conference and shared the round table with some prominent persons, including a country director, a diplomat and an assistant of someone-important.  Let’s call this lady Ms. Jane Doe. Our eyes were focused on the stage, enjoying a group of kids with disability perform a traditional dance. Miss Jane Doe, like most Indonesians, took few too many pictures with her low-quality blackberry. No matter how many times she click her blackberry the result were not never good, it’s blackberry!

Determined to get a great picture, she turned herself, facing us, raised her hand a bit and took her self-potrait with the dancers as a background. I guess, by adding her face in the scene, the moment looks much better. None of us laugh but we were all awe by her narcissism. She was not the only person with narcissistic personality disorder, I spotted an old guy, in the same conference, did the same thing.

When it comes to self-photography, the shy Indonesians have no shame.

photo narsis polisi

Jump Photo & Chibi-chibi

A colleague once asked me why Indonesians so obsess with jump picture. Do you know why? I honestly do not have answer to this question, but if I am allowed to guess, it might has something to do with with the fact that we don’t like taking only one picture. The first picture is usually normal picture with a nice smile, followed by free style, ugly face, chibi-chibi and ended with a jump.

The other style that people like love is chibi-chibi. The style is so famous until our president, SBY, has his chibi-chibi photo. Google it and you’ll find it amusing.


Picture above was taken from here

Food Photography

Before enjoying meal, the Japanese say itadakimasul, the French say bon appétit, while the Dutch say eet smakelij. Here in Indonesia, instead of saying grace or greeting others before meal, we take picture of our meal and post it in social media like Instagram, Path and Facebook. This is our way to thank the mother nature for the meal and sharing with our friends.  If we couldn’t share the food, at least we could share the pictures.  Remember, the most important thing is to share, the mean of sharing is not important.

I must admit that I occasionally do it, especially when visiting a restaurant I’ve never been to. Here is my favorite picture:

pork spring roll

Vietnamnese springroll

Group Photo 

Another thing that Indonesians love is to ask favor from the Server at a restaurant to take their picture pictures. The Server must take perfect picture pictures, if this person fail to do it, then the patrons will request for another photo. To make it worse, the poor Server has to take different pictures with different mobile phones. People have bluetooth and internet to share the photo, yet they prefer to have the photo taken by their mobile phone.

Restaurant in Indonesia should start putting photography skill as one of the requirements. They should also do a test on how to take picture with DSLR, pocket camera, iphone, blackberry or other smart phone. Only a perfect one will be hired. Oh and the perfect one should never complain when the patron did not leave a tip, it’s part of their job.

Also Read:

Things Indonesian Like: Oleh-oleh

Things Indonesian Like: Dirty Toilet

The Awesome Recital Piano of Wibi Soerjadi

Wibi Soerjadi is a Dutch pianist who was born on 1970 in Leiden. Judging from his name, I am pretty sure that his parents are (or were) Indonesians. Supported by Erasmus Huis (and others sponsors), he came to Jakarta and held a free recital Piano which took place in Erasmus Huis few hours ago. Since it’s classic and free, I went there.

wibi Soerjadi

VIP guests were queuing to get into the building when I arrived. It was 45 minutes before the recital and I was already on number 63 of the waiting list. After the VIP guests got into the building, only 48 people allowed to get into the room. So, the unlucky-me ended up outside the building, sitting in front of a big screen, next to a very annoying man-who-does-not-like classic. Like me, he came because it was free. This guy was in the waiting list number 112, so I decided to address him as “112 man”.  This 112-man talked to me and kept talking, although my eyes were glued to a module that I found in my bag. My attempt to ignore him failed, he kept talking and told me that he prefers rock music rather than classic. Before listening to the music, he decided to stay for one round (satu babak!) only. Then he started to talk about the lost of the Netherlands during the world cup and the bla bla went on until the pianist showed up.

Soerjadi opened the program with a piece from Mozart, titled “Adagio” from Concerto KV 488 (Soerjadi), and followed by Bach (Feruccion Busoni) piece, Toccata and Fuge in D-Moll BWV 565. He then continued with “Adagio” un poco mosso from concerto no. 5 opus 73 (Soerjadi) and before the intermission he pampered our ears with a piece from Vincenzo Bellini (Franz Liszt), Réminiscences de Norma S. 394 (doca Soerjadi).

After 15 minutes of intermission (and lot of chips and soft drinks for everyone), the talented man went back to the stage to pamper our mind, heart and ears. I found that the second session of this recital was more interesting. During this session, he played only his compositions and started with a piece titled ‘Fearless’.  When Soerjadi was playing his second piece, a tribute to her mom, titled ‘To Mom’ a phone rang and the owner did not realize until few seconds. Oh come on, it was a beautiful tribute to his beloved mother.

I went to few recitals piano and other classic performances (even jazz concert) and during the performance (be it free or no) there’s always, at least one, idiot who forgot to switch off the mobile phone. I think Erasmus should stop providing snacks, soft drink or beers to spectators and start to invest on a good signal blocker. Well if it is too expensive, then banned any kind of mobile phone from the building and provide a good locker for this (@ America knows better how to do this).

At the end of his performance, Soerjadi played a nine-part composition titled “Apuleius’ Amor & Psyche”. This composition was written on 2009 when he was suffering from idiopathic sudden sensor neural hearing loss. It was the best part of the show as it was so beautiful. My favorite from this piece about Amore and Psyche are the Sinfonia (Overture) and the third part about Psiche. The latter sounds very feminine and soft to my ears. Just beautiful!

He, of course, got a standing applause for his brilliant performance and as a reward for the spectators (for standing, LOL), he gave an encore, music from “Pirates of The Caribbean”.  The best part was that the he played only with one hand, the left hand. Super awesome!!! The second encore was “Bengawan Solo”, a very beautiful Indonesian song written by Gesang. I am sure somewhere in heaven, Gesang listens to his performance and very proud of this talented man.

Soerjadi released his first CD titled “Dance of Devotion” on 2008 and the CD contains only his compositions. Unfortunately the CD was not available in Erasmus. If you are interest to see his great performance come to Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, tomorrow, 18 September 2011 at 20.00 (only if the ticket isn’t sold out). Well, if you can’t get any ticket, then wait until next year, he’ll be back and hopefully he will remember to bring his CDs.

Anyway, it was so awesome that the 112-man stayed until the end of the performance. Amazing huh?

To read more about this talented pianist, click his website he is also in twitter.