Impressions of ‘The Indies’

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 7:05 am

April (Jakarta)3566308229_d0f7571ebb
The Chinese man had old fashioned round glasses.

He didn’t look like a Chinese man from China, he looked like a Chinese-Javanese man.

His son was also an ‘apprentice’ servant.

I remember watching that man and his son washing Didi’s car, after coming back from a trip to Taman Safari.

Didi’s son Ray ran around the house in a destructive way.

He was obese with rotten teeth and  pale skin.

The deaf village girl maid hated him..(she was about my age).

The greed of this family made me and the servants feel sick.

I suppose Ray was a three year old, but because he was so big I couldn’t think of him as that.

I felt sorry for the loss of his natural movements inside his awkward, fat body.

He had trouble using his legs to run around, and whenever he sat down, he sat with his legs splayed at a strange angle in an attempt to

balance out his heavy body weight.

As a ‘rich’ Eurasian guest I felt ashamed of myself in front of the two maids.

I felt like they hated me too.

It was like I had gone back in time to when the Dutch ruled Indonesia.

I felt like an oppressor of the people -or at least that’s the way they saw me.

The truth was I wanted to be the opposite of that.

The house had huge rooms.

The room used to receive guests was fitted with a huge chandelier.

The house was three stories high.

The bottom level held the dining room, kitchen, loungeroom and servants rooms.

The second level held the bedrooms, and a large tv room.

I didn’t see the third level.

Myself and Tante Meity slept in Ray’s room.

It was filled with toys and a large bed.

The wall was painted with a mural of a prehistoric dinosaur landscape.

Meity told me it cost them three to four hundred dollars for the mural to be painted.

Imagine how long it would take for the servants to earn that amount…

Meity told me that Didi had friends in the Golkar Party, and that’s how he was able to build the mansion.

Luckily, the old Malukan lady was there for a while.

She was the same as me, she didn’t like the richness.

She was skinny and wore a kebaya and sarong.

Her thin white hair was pulled back in a bun.

She didn’t speak English, but she had a mischevious look in her eye, and secretly laughed at Tante Terra’s rough manners and strange

noises with me.

I found out that her surname was Wattimena.

Impressions of ‘The Indies’

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 12:19 pm

6th May 2009 (Yogya)3459769710_0aa049b0e9

Day two in Yogya and I feel so relaxed and free, as I have now left the poverty, dirt and smog of Jakarta behind me.

Yogya is so clean and cultured in comparison, but that said, I do miss Jo and Vanda.

Arriving in Yogya in the early morning was beautiful.

The numerous rice fields and coconut palms bathed in early morning light and mist, and the mountains in the background, furfilled the

images that I had always thought of as representing ‘the real Indonesia’.

Today I am alone in my kos room, as Benita has gone out to do some English teaching on behalf of the Australian embassy Aus-Indo relations


The animated voices of students can be heard in the background, whilst the voice of the Imam sings the Muslim call to prayer and various

food vendors passing by add to a montage of foreign sound.

Already I have grown quite used to Indonesia, and enjoy experiencing a daily life that contains so many contrasts to life back in Australia.

I am glad I made this trip.

I think that it is very important that I confront and connect with with my Indonesian identity -but to be very honest, if I have learnt one thing

so far, it is realising how Australian I really am.

The overnight train trip from Jakarta’s Gambir Station to Yogyakarta was an atmospheric one.

Leaving the ‘concrete jungle’ behind, the train began to pass by the small villages and farmland of Java.

The flickering of dimly lit kerosene lamps penetrated the darkness of another world, an Indonesia of the past that I had been longing to see.

The train stopped at a number of small stations along the way, some eerily quiet, whilst others were bustling with food vendors calling out

their wares.

At one station I was woken up from a disturbed state of half-sleep to the sound of tapping on the glass of my window.

Outside, a group of young men had gathered, and were pressing their faces up against the glass staring at me with amused curiosity.

‘They must think you’re an Indian film star’ said my auntie, who was sitting in the seat next to mine.

Impressions of ‘The Indies’

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

23rd April 2009 (Jakarta)3459769680_b32987c6b0

This morning I woke up very early (5.30am!)

The voice of the muezzin, singing the Muslim call to prayer echoed throughout the neighbourhood,

which consists of little streets and lanes lined with banana trees amongst many others.

Stray cats balance precariously in the branches of the trees, hoping to stay out of harms way.

Numerous motorbikes and becaks pass by, some carrying entire families.

Earlier, I took a short walk with Tante Meity down jalan Dahlia and across a busy road to her morning exercise class.

I too joined in on the outdoor aerobics, swaying from side to side in my pyjamas to the rhythym of dangdut-like music,

blasting from a sound system.

Some of Tante Meity’s friends came up to shake my hand

-with one of the ladies I made the mistake of offering her my left hand, which was quite embarrassing on my behalf.

It is so, so different here, even a little bit scary.

I feel so foreign and out of place.

Finally I can see how Dad must have felt for so many years.

Now I can see how brave he is.

The house is small but nice.

I’m staying in Randi’s room which is a lovely cooling blue.

It reminds me of the brahmin houses in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan in India.