Friday, April 22, 2005

a trip to Jakarta (part 1)

Last week, I made a trip to Jakarta. One, to look for business opportunity and two, to attend a wedding. It was my second trip. The first made in 97 (or was it 98?) to study the Padepokan Pencak Silat Indonesia, after which Gerbang Persilatan Terengganu was modeled on. As I passed by the Padepokan, while visiting the Taman Mini Indonesia, I saw that the center was still alive for what it was. Back home in Terengganu, the Gerbang Persilatan is no longer the home for Pesilat Terengganu. Soon after its completion, it went into ownership turmoil and sadly as a result failed to be what it was meant to be originally. But then, Gerbang Persilatan was built with Government’s money unlike the Padepokan that was built by three generous individual as a gift to the nation. I would not comment more on that. This is not what this blog is for.

The time of the trip coincided with some important events. The Ambalat Block - Sulawesi Sea incident, the ‘Ganyang Malaysia’ demonstration (2 Mac 2005) and the continuing seismic activity of Gunung Talang (beginning 12 April 2005). Jakarta too was about to host the Asia Africa Summit (22-23 April). Against the background, military present were felt. Armed personnel were obvious on the roadsides. Cars into hotels and shopping complexes were searched and entry into buildings was through metal detector. The Indonesian host when asked about the incident diplomatically answered, ‘Apa bikin ribut, Pak. Kita kan serumpun.’ (Why the noise. Are we not of the same race?). Our driver when asked about the demonstration laughingly explained. ‘Di sini bisa aja Pak - pokoknya dibayar’ (It’s normal here, as long as they are paid). Against the background I chose not to walk on the street - something I love to do when visiting foreign places. Instead I rented a chauffeured car. Even then we were constantly reminded. ‘Jangan guna telefon di simpang Pak, nanti dirampok.’ (Don’t use hand-phone at the junction Sir. We might get robbed)

Because we are ‘serumpun’ – of the same race, we share the same language. Despite so, the meaning of words may differ to a hilarious consequence.

As we were leaving the immigration checkpoint, queuing for custom x-ray, a security officer called out, ‘Mas, lorong sini.’ (Mas, this lane please) Almost everyone of MAS flight from Kuala Lumpur went to a single lane. Then someone laugh. The call was not for Malaysia Airline passengers but for everyone. ‘Mas’ was their way of saying Mister or Sir. They might also call you ‘Bapak’ (father) or Ibu (mother) for the ladies.

I had a good laugh on my second day in Jakarta. I had the night before booked for a car. In the morning I went to the concierge asking for it. ‘Pak, saya menunggu kereta.’ (Mister, I’m waiting for a car). He gave me an ‘are you crazy?’ look. Sensing something amiss, I quickly added, ‘Never mind, please put me to Pak Jaya.’- the man who made the arrangement for me.

Thing went smoothly until late afternoon. As we were passing a railway track, Yati asked, ‘Keretapi tu ke mana Pak?’ (What’s the train destination?).

Oh, kereta tu ke Bandung’ (Oh, the car is to Bandung) said the driver.

Kereta?’ (Car?) I asked.

Maaf Pak. Di sini, ini dipanggil mobil. Kereta itu kereta-api.’ (Sorry sir, this (the car) is called ‘mobil’ here, kereta (car) is the train)

I laughed. No wonder the concierge was looking wierdly at me.

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