Archive | October 2010

In Indonesia’s Darkest Hour

Jakarta is hit by one of the worst floods in recent memory, paralyzing it – fortunately, only for half a day with a minimum of lives lost.

Mentawai is hit by consecutive large earthquakes, then devastated by tsunamis. 113 lives lost.

Mount Merapi erupts, bringing hot clouds down its hillsides. 25 lives lost so far.


At this dark hour for Indonesia, isn’t it a good time to let go of the power plays, politics and differences, and become one as a nation?


On A Serious Note: Negotiable Martabak Prices

Yesterday night, I was slightly hungry (as I did not have dinner) and on the way home, we stopped to buy some martabak manis. For Rp 28.000, we got a big box of it, around 16 pieces, and I only ate 3 before feeling too sleepy to eat.

But I’ll leave my culinary adventures for another blog. Maybe post some pictures on Tumblr.

Anyway, it brought up a memory of a few years back, while I was still living in Dharmawangsa – I was buying some martabak manis, and waiting for the martabak man to finish making it, sitting on a stool nearby. When done, I would be paying Rp 17.000 for a small box of martabak.
A mother and her son came by to order some martabak as well, and she asked for the price of the no-frills, sugar-topping-only martabak. The martabak man answered, Rp 12.000, ma’am.

Then the next thing she said stunned me somewhat: “can you make it Rp 10.000?”

She was bargaining for a martabak. I mean, any Indonesian with any self-respect would haggle or bargain almost anything I need to buy, but I guess it never crossed my mind to bargain food prices. Especially martabak. Not to mention that many street food vendors run on a minimum profit, so the martabak man’s compassion played a part in agreeing to the negotiated price.

I guess I’m very lucky that I’ve never had to haggle the price of my meal, and I should be grateful. It’s just that this single fact did not occur to me until that day.

So whenever I feel lustful towards some new gadget or something, I remember that mother who had to bargain the price of martabak. Maybe it’s lame and a bit snobbish of me, I know, but nevertheless, that small fact stayed with me after all the years.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded to be grateful of the simple, basic things in life.

Việt Nam, Here We Come!

To mark 6 years of blogging (which technically fell on October 1st), I have decided to actually write something on my blog. And frankly, to save time retelling the story to everyone I meet, I am writing it here, so I can just say “just read my blog”.
6 years ago I started this blog as part of a new life – and shortly, this blog will be a witness to another new stage in my life. Something rather unfathomable for some, but somehow rather fitting for others – depending on how well they know me.
Saskia and I will be moving to Việt Nam within the next month. After 6 years in the music and digital industry, I have decided to accept a position with a local company based in Hồ Chí Minh City which works in the movie and TV industry there. I will be joining the marketing team, as they have tons of TV programming to sell, in-house produced movies, and they also distribute many of the American (read: Hollywood) movies on behalf of the movie studios. They even have their own movie theater!

I will be leaving after only 6 months – the only part of this decision I regret, as I have learned a lot during my short time here, and have been honored to work with such a good team, which have become good friends also. But we think it is the best time for us to do this – so it’s not just for the job, it’s for the adventure.

You learn a lot from immersing yourself into various cultures – and what better way to do that than just moving to a completely different country? Heheh.

And let me state for the record – we are doing this not because our disillusion regarding Indonesia’s current state. We love Jakarta and almost all of our beloved family and friends are here; but recently Jakarta has become quite unlivable and unhealthy, so we are taking this opportunity to somewhat take a break. By November, you can count Jakarta less one car and two people, at least for the next few years ahead; a miniscule effort to decrease our carbon footprint.

For me, there are 2 basic ways to be a patriot for your country:

  1. work in Indonesia and build industries, jobs, creative work, and so on – to build the nation; or
  2. work overseas to help other countries build, with Indonesian expertise, skill and tenacity.

So, if you ever come to Hồ Chí Minh City, I’ll be the one wearing a batik shirt at the office, because I don’t want anyone to forget that there is an Indonesian helping you build your business. Well, hopefully I will be able to successfully, so wish us luck!

Most likely this blog will also have a slight change of tune once we move there, to chronicle life of an Indonesian in Hồ Chí Minh City, so until then, stay tuned!