Saturday, September 3, 2011

True and False with Indonesian Stereotypes

 Because misconceptions can be stupid, and I'm not cooking Curry. Isn't that Curry stereotype for Indians?

1. All Indonesians are Muslims.
Nope. Sure, we have most Muslims in the world, but just take a look at Bali. Do they look like Muslims to you? I hope not, because there are food that are forbidden for Muslims to eat produced there. And no, we don't write in Arabic. (Most kids know how to write Arabic, though)

2. We see wild, exotic animals everyday.
Nope. Indonesia's divided into a few islands: Sumatra, Jawa (or Java, in English), Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua. Most of the really-huge-forests are in Kalimantan and Papua. They contain more species than one could count. Sadly... Most of us life in Jawa. So no, we don't see exotic animals everyday, unless we go to a zoo. Certainly not Orangutan, Elephants or Komodo. There's a reason they're listed as endangered!

3. We eat noodle as staple food.
LOL No. I still want to live past my 30's. Sure, we have LOTS of Indomie. We just don't eat it everyday. Most of us eat it when we're too lazy to make some food, but that problem is easily solved. We eat rice.

4. Indonesia doesn't have alcoholic drinks.
False. Technically, we're not allowed to. Police propaganda everywhere says, "No Drugs and Alcohol for a better future," but we DO have alcoholic drinks. You just don't see them often.

5. Indonesians don't speak English.
Not many of us are fluent in the language. But there are people who speak it. (coughcoughmecough) So it's a half-half. To balance that, most of us know languages like Sundanese or Javanese. What can you expect from the country that has over 740 languages and even more dialects?

6. We are poor.
Umm, then how the hell am I posting on my blog, much less posting nearly daily?

7. We're warm, polite and tolerant. 
Mainly. If you cross someone who is pissed because of the traffic, don't expect them to smile and say, "monggo," though.

8. Indonesians are superstitious and/or believe there's ghosts.
Most of them, yes. Islam acknowledges the existence of Djinn and the supernaturals, and that part of Islamic belief shows in Indonesia. Not many of us believe in Malam Jum'at Kliwon (Friday Night that is also Kliwon) but expect us to be scared when approaching or talking about haunted places. Want to know the reason why? NOT FOR THE EASILY SCARED PEOPLE. Go to Google Image and search Kuntilanak or Pocong. Mhm, that's why. I'm pretty sure Dracula won't visit this part of Asia, eh?

9. Indonesians are not disciplined, and the inventor of rubber-time.
True. We come in time when something's important to us, though. Or if that's just how we are.

10. We are religious.
True, to an extent. We follow our religion's... umm, "rituals". However, not every one of us can quote our books while we converse. Nobody randomly sprouts, "Surat al-'Asr menjelaskan (explains), Wal 'Asri, innal insana lafii khusri. Illalazina amanu wa'amilussalihati watawasau bil haqi watawasau bissabr." when they're explaining about Time. 

Things about Indonesian

1. We're open-minded and tolerant with religions.
Although technically, following Pancasila, our country's ideology, atheists are not allowed here.
Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa, the first of the five Sila, means The One Almighty God. So no matter what religion you believe in, welcome!

2. No corner is the same. Ever. 
Pretend you arrive in Jakarta. You will see skyscrapers and tons of malls. Move a bit to southeast. Welcome to Bandung! Now the people you see are more traditional, and you have escaped the hustle-bustle of Jakarta and into a nature friendly city of Bandung. Nice, eh? They even speak different language! 128 km and that's what you get. Scoot over to east, until you see Semarang. Different language again! Yay! The people are traditionalists, and there's plenty of mosques. Go south, a bit to the west, and you'll see the people friendly city of Jogjakarta. Also, it's the most famous place for Batik. Northeast, you can find Surabaya. You can expect another language, honestly.

Jump over to Bali. Hello, famous holiday destination! New languages, customs, and religions. Move a bit, and you'll see Lombok, a place known for its really really beautiful beaches. Move move move, let's see Komodo Island. A word of caution, no female on their time of the month should ever go there. Komodos can smell blood from 4 km away.

That's the halfway-tour through Java and Bali and Komodo Island! Now you see what I'm saying? I didn't even get to Kepulauan Seribu, which means Thousand Islands.

3. Most of us Stereotype. 
Yeah. Bataks are brought up to be loud, and when they shout in Jawa... Well, some part of Jawa has VERY nice, soft-speaking people. You see why they would be stereotyped? Each part of the islands are too different.

4. Our cultures are too much to count.
Who needs International Day? National Day would be diverse enough, if each child wears different national clothes. 40 students a class won't be enough. Food? You don't count them. Tumpeng, Es Dawet Ayu, Sate Padang, Risoles, yummy. AND OH GOD GADO-GADO Pffft.

5. We are creative.
Look at all the handicrafts. We're good at this thing called using-whatever-is-there. There's only white papers? Use markers! Trust me, creativity is tested at class, when the class makes Mading, or Majalah Dinding, which translates to Wall Magazine. Try searching for them in Google Images.

Tips for vacations and such, if you're in Jakarta and friends (Jabodetabek)

1. Do not. ever. come. on an Islamic holiday.
Especially Islamic ones like Eid al-Fitr. Jakarta's. Closed. Only hotels are open, the shops are closed since the owners are out to visit their family.

2. Go on a weekday.
Monday-Thursday, Friday too if you want. The streets are packed around 6:00 to 7:00, so you can safely estimate that around 7:30, it's quiet. People should be at school or work already. (Schools here starts at 7, or occasionally 6:30) I know that from experience, really. Fridays, about 12:00 to 1:00, the streets are empty since it's time for Shalat Jum'at, aka Friday Prayer. Except for the occasional cars and motorcycles with woman drivers, or non-Muslim drivers, it's pretty much the only safe time in the week to cross the street. (Again, I speak from experience. My way of crossing the street would give anyone a heart attack)

3. Wear fairly thin shirts, not tanktops. 
People here doesn't really take tanktops in stride. So instead of people staring at you with their disapproving glares, just wear shirts, preferably with light colours. There's no good if you faint in the heat. The average is, according to this, January - 29°/23°C (84°/73° F);
 July - 31°/23°C (88°/73° F)

4. It's better to visit other parts of Indonesia, really.
Jakarta has Mall Taman Anggrek, and all sort of huge malls, but it's really better to see other parts of Indonesia. Like Kepulauan Seribu, Lombok, Bali, Papua (seriously), and countless other islands. We have enough attractions. Sure, Mall Taman Anggrek is really nice, but better spend more of your time in the places above.

That sums it up.

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