The Charms of Jakarta
Disclaimer: This post is not so much about JKT48, but rather, how Jakarta has grown on me as a result of going there so many times for the girls.
In this past one and a half years, I’ve probably traveled to Jakarta over 10 times already- all with the intention of seeing JKT48. And, an inevitable outcome from all this trips is that I’ve grown to love and appreciate many of the fine moments this city offers. One of the many things I like is the fact that men and youths readily give up their seats to women and old folk on the bus.
Mind you, these TransJakarta buses are often hot, overcrowded and stuck in slow-moving traffic- but when someone sees another person who would suffer more than them by not being on a seat, they readily give it up without much of a thought. I like this camaraderie of sorts.
It’s different than in Singapore. Even though we often have ample seats and good air-condition and also big spaces in the bus or train, the men don’t give up their seats to women (unless of course, they bring along children). It also takes a little while before someone gives up their seats to old folk too. Now, there may be many reasons to speculate why such a thing happens- but I’m not interested in any of that. Rather, it is this simple gesture of being thoughtful to women and old folk that I am appreciative about.
The traffic jams (aka macet) are really common in Jakarta, and moving from point A to B can take a long time if you’re not on a motorbike. And this wait is even longer if you’re in the bus, or even queuing to take the bus. (The bus system is not very well thought of and there are often 50-100 meter queues just to get into a bus).
But one thing you can appreciate as a Singaporean, even if you are indeed stuck in one of these queues is the simple notion that nobody complains about it. Macet and being in stuck in the cycle of a macet has become such a part of life that everyone accepts whatever happens when you’re in it.
I have never seen somebody make a scene or outright complain about the situation. Sure, there may be minor grumbles, but there’s never a scene. And because there’s never a scene, there is also no resulting negativity coming out from it and –that- makes the wait so much more bearable for all of us stuck in it. I love the simple peace from this. (Yes, I do travel on the bus most of the time. Save more on expenses. Spend more on idoling.) Of course, I’m not advocating that officials slack off even more with the public transport system- but really, having people being so patient in the face of such adverse outcomes is really admirable.
Somehow it brings me to another factor I like about Jakarta- the people. Maybe it’s from the influence of all my friends here. They’re always laughing, joking and smiling. Taking things into their stride and having lots of fun. The Masbros around, some too- despite being older or even outright fierce looking at times, are still kind and can attend politely to most enquiries you have.
I’ve never had any personal problems with any of them- communication troubles yes sometimes, but otherwise no. Even those peddlers who sell goods, food and drinks at the roads go away effortlessly as long as you gesture you’re not interested in buying any of their stuff. It makes me think of Indonesia as a very polite country.
On a rather personal note, I love everything about the food here. It does get difficult trying to taste different cuisine in Singapore when not everything is halal, but most of the food in Indonesia is, and that helps! Chicken tastes great. Simple things like satay and cucumber are also soft and easy to chew on (both these things are incredulously tough/hard in Singapore).
There’s a lot of variety for a Muslim and roadside food are both cheap and tasty- and can be even better than those at food courts. (It’s not that clean though, if you reallllllly ponder deep into it, but stomach troubles hasn’t been a problem during my fan trips here so far.) And the cabe (spice/sambal/chili) is really powerful.
Ironically the best thing about the food here is that somehow it doesn’t make me gain weight as easily as when I eat back in Singapore. I really wonder why but I eat less but feel fuller in Jakarta than at home. The cooking oil?
At the end of the day though, it really is the people that makes staying in Jakarta so much fun. I really have much to thank towards Infzero, a good friend of mine who has brought us overseas fans much fun and friendship together with other fans in Jakarta.
So much important thanks to all the contributors at JKT48stuff (Angga, Red, djt, Haddad, Richardson… so many…. all of you lah!) ; who tirelessly put up so much content, giving all of us overseas fans a way to catch up with all the latest news and drama (and without being overly rude or sensationalist).
I’ve also been very impressed with the efforts of @Genderuwota48, a very caring fan-centric group of people who have been doing much work in keeping the local fan community united and having lots of fun.
Much thanks to you too, dear reader, for reading up to this point! And of course, the idols from JKT48. To have seen them grow over a year and a half has been a very rewarding and enriching experience (I’ll probably talk more about them in another post).
Jakarta, I’ve certainly been charmed by you. .
P.S: If you have any story or more experiences to share about the charms of Jakarta, feel free to post a comment below!