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: 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