Saturday, May 14, 2011

Five things I will not miss from Indonesia

Before I was about to leave Indonesia for a while, I was beginning to get a bit melancholic. The last weeks in Indonesia, I kept on thinking that this may be the last time I do this (have dim sum lunch with a friend) or that (be in a KontraS meeting) and continuously ended up teary eyed (or heavily sobbing). One way to cheer myself up was making this list of things I will most certainly NOT miss about Indonesia.

5. Wet toilets - As most Indonesians use water, not paper, after doing their thing on the loo, many toilets are wet. Very wet. Sometimes it's just the toilet seat, sometimes it's the entire floor. The ritual is thus to roll up your pants, so when you lower them, they don't get all wet. The fancier the restroom, the fancier the water supplier (a little spray). Some places have these water sprays that literally shoot the water at you (I am too scared they will harm my private parts that I have never attempted to use them). So, it has happened several times now that my foot was hit by the water splash party my toilet neighbor was having by herself. Yuck.

4. Being called 'Mister' - Need I explain?

3. Witnessing other people's personal hygiene moments - Maybe Westerners (or just the Dutch?) are a bit too uptight about it, but usually we keep bursting zits, clipping nails or pulling out unwanted hairs for our bathroom. Here I often find that people think these activities make good time killers. Often men picking up their wives, use their motorbike mirrors to get rid of any nostril hair. During a meeting, someone can just take out a nail clipper and clip away.

2. Burps and throat scraping - air needs to get out, okay, I agree. It's actually quite freeing for me to be allowed to burp. But everything should (as we say in Dutch 'met mate') remain within certain limits. In the case of burping this means I do not want to hear yesterday's food speak out to me. Loud throat cleansing (including spitting) I just don't get. It sounds as if someone has an eating disorder and makes me loose my appetite. No need to wash up your throat if you don't have a cold.

1. "Gapapa ya?" - Some Indonesians can have interesting ways to deal with disappointment. Mine that is. So at a (quite fancy) restaurant they may ask you if you prefer to sit in a smoking or non-smoking area and when you answer 'non-smoking', tell you non-smoking is full. Why didn't they just say that in the first place? Another way of dealing with disappoint is telling me that I don't mind. So, say I reserved a nice suite at a hotel, but upon arrival it appears they made a double booking and my reserved room type is not available. The receptionist could then easily say: "Kamarnya sudah penuh, gapapa ya?" - "Oh, the double rooms are all full, but you don't mind, right?". I did actually mind and hearing that I don't mind really gets me angry. What I've learned is that saying that I do mind usually doesn't works so well. It's better to just repeat what the original deal was until they look for a better solution.

So, obviously all this complaining was just meant to disguise the fact that I have grown to love Indonesia even more and that I will definitely miss it. Thank you all (you know who you are) for a wonderful time!

No comments: