Monday, January 25, 2010

Memories of Jakarta

The little one is asleep and I'm all alone waiting for the laundry to finish. Dear Hubby has returned to Jakarta as he has to finish up the packing and office handover. Bless the man, what a darling he is to have sent us away first and do the hard work all by himself.

This is the first time I've felt relaxed back in Malaysia. On every other visit, we've always known we would have to return to Jakarta. So my main mission every time was to eat everything that I'd missed before our return flight and I was anxious not to miss anything. Nasi lemak, bah kut teh, roti canai, dim sum... you name it, I ate it. This time I have the luxury of actually saying, "It's okay, I'm trying to lose weight."

We've found this apartment we like and are now negotiating with the landlord over terms. Not exactly looking forward to unpacking when our shipment arrives but that's got to be done before we can enjoy the new place.

What do I miss about Jakarta?

My driver!
*sobs* Until you have one, you have no idea how useful one can be. When I feel like going out in Jakarta, all I had to do was get Connor ready and pack his diaper bag. Then I would call the driver. When he appeared, all I had to do was cuddle my little boy and walk grandly out to the car and get in. He would lug my diaper bag, my handbag and the gigantic stroller we bought. Upon reaching the mall, I would just get out and watch while he unfolds the stroller and gets my bags. When I'm done, I call for him again and he loads the shopping and other stuff into car while I just get in and relax. When we're home, I just swan in with the baby and amuse him while he unloads it all.
Here in KL, I am SHOCKED that I have to do all that he's been doing faithfully for me. Shocked, I tell you. Terima kasih, Pak Sulaiman.

The service
We in Malaysia have no idea of service. Counter staff at various malls seem so rude by Jakarta standards. I remember when we bought a sandwich maker in Senayan, we had 4 people attend to us. All we had to do was point to the model we wanted and walk to the cashier's. Here we actually have to pick up the box from the shelf and lug it there. Ouch. What a painful return to reality for me. LOL

The sights on the roads
Because Jakarta is so densely populated, every inch of space is built up to the max and very often the car window is probably just a foot or two away from someone's bedroom window. It's unlike KL where houses are actually set back away from the road. I've spent many drives peering curiously into the faces and places of ordinary Jakartans from the isolation of my car, wondering what their lives are like when I realise that a whole family is squeezed into a home no bigger than my kitchen.
None of this NKVE, Kerinchi Link, Penchala Link, LDP impersonal sort of driving. Driving through the maze of Jakarta's little roads actually gives you a feel for the place and the people who live there because they're right in your face as you pass by.

The Jakarta society lady
Mind you, I don't know any personally. But I did enjoy watching them in the malls, dressed up to the nines with the Imelda Marcos hairdo, clinking about in their high heels at two o'clock in the afternoon. Damn syiok imagining what their lives must be like, must be like Dynasty + Knots Landing + Manohara!

What do I not miss about Jakarta?

The traffic, the traffic, the traffic. Good riddance. I will get down on my knees and thank The Powers Above if I never see a bajaj or ojek ever again in my life.

And the no-good water. Although it's kept me um, regular. Never had any plumbing problems even when I was pregnant and they said all pregnant women do.

Did I enjoy our stay in Jakarta? Yes and no. Yes because it was somewhere new, somewhere different and I enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed experiencing Indonesia and Indonesians first-hand. And our son was born there! He's got Dilahir di Jakarta (born in Jakarta) stamped in his passport. Teehee.

No because it's not an easy city to live in and I'm not talking about the time when HP sauce simply disappeared off the shelves for weeks and I went hunting for it frantically for Dear Hubby's sake. There was just so much poverty on a level that I've not seen before, not even when growing up in my little hometown. When I first arrived, I was shocked at the poverty I saw. I remember fretting over the Maxi-Cosi catalogue when we were looking for a new car seat for Connor and then glancing outside the window only to see a little boy about four, asleep on a cardboard carton his father had collected and placed in the cart he uses to collect rubbish for recycling. That to me was Jakarta - the haves and the have-nots existing side by side, neither knowing much about the other. There I was, wondering if I should spend two hundred quid on a car seat for my son while the other boy had probably never seen 50 quid before.

So here we are in KL and I'm looking forward to living back home again before we probably get uprooted in 2-3 years' time and get posted to er.... Siberia! HAHA!

Thanks for the memories, Jakarta. Maybe we'll come back someday.


  1. You know what? I never made it to Jakarta to see you! I'll make sure I see you in Siberia - I have winter wear all ready! :D Good to have you back :D

  2. PB: Eh don't worry about it, you didn't miss much! Is that why you bought those boots... because you thought we might be going to Siberia! ;) Good to be back, am enjoying it back home.

  3. Hello there, I know it's an old post but I shared so much same thinkings as yours. So could not help but leaving some words here as a token of my appreciation.
    I've been staying in this city for half a year now, after moving here last year to join my hubby who's working as an expat. Lots of culture shocks. But lots of fun too. I still remember how grateful I was when first time tasting the roasted duck & har-gau in Grand Duck King. But of course I still could not find my dreamed Nasi Lemak Sotong, Bak Kut Teh, and Penang Hokkien Mee yet. I will continue my food hunt. :)
    I was just pregnant now and if no big changes, I am sure my future bb will be delivered here too. What an exciting news! :P
    When I came back to Msia during some short trips, I could not help but telling everyone that there are so many things we can learn from Indonesia, especially the service level. Even the guards in our condo are more professional than majority of our msian customer service officers or shopkeepers. They are more helpful, informative, and always ready to greet u and smile.
    Regardless the macet & air pollution, I actually have many fond memories about this city :)

  4. Hi sL! Glad you're enjoying Jakarta... and good luck with the pregnancy and delivery! RS Pondok Indah was excellent, I had no problems with the whole pregnancy, the delivery and the recovery period. If you are living close enough to Pondok Indah, you should consider it.

    Yes, Malaysia can learn a lot from Indonesia. Indonesians (the ones I know) are much more liberal and tolerant and they seem to have a wider perspective of the world. They are also much friendlier and they love children... wait till your little one is born, you will have many Indonesians smiling at you and your baby.
    Can't say I miss the macet and pollution. LOL But I do miss the luxury of being chauffered around and having someone to deal with all the shopping and parking! Enjoy Jakarta... and I hope you see more of the country than I did, I found travelling difficult because of the pregnancy.