Saturday, December 08, 2007

Paranoia Indonesia

On my last visit to Indonesia it suddenly dawned on me, Indonesians are a thoroughly paranoid bunch.

According to the Indonesians I've met, most of their fellow citizens are pickpockets, thugs (who, by the way, love to use public transport -- interestingly over here thugs love BMWs!) and policemen

For example, last summer I wanted to update my 5 year old brick-like-Nokia with an N95, but I was warned not to venture near Roxy cos it's a haunt for hypnotist pickpockets (Indonesia's answers to David Blaine). So I ended up not getting an N95 and keeping my Spectrum-esque phone.

[In fact during a dehydrated swoon at the Jakarta fair I was worried that I had encountered one of these pickpocket illusionists when a random guy shook my hand, but my wallet was left intact -- random friendliness, shock horror!]

I don't doubt that there are bad people in Indonesia, but whenever this pale skinny bespectacled guy gets lost on travels around Indonesia, people have gone out of their way to put me on the right track.

To a person the expats I've met haven't had much to say about their experiences of crime in Indonesia. The general opinion has been that crime is either lower or on a par with western countries. Indonesia isn't special, every country has it's own fair share of scheisters and lunatics.

My own theory for all this paranoia is that Indonesians aren't yet used to a press that isn't cowered into reporting good news all the time. Shit happens Indonesia, get used to it!! :):)


David said...

My cousin and also another Australian friend go everywhere around Jakarta on the public buses. They know the bus routes like the back of their hands. They travel on them almost everyday.
We always hear about stabbings on buses, but the worst these two have to put up with is the occasional insistence on handing over Rp2000, and the inevitable 'Misterrrr'.. Not that stabbings don't occur. An Indonesian friend of mine nearly got a knife to the face on another bus. But I'm sure most expats will agree that compared with back home, I feel so much safer walking the streets at night in Jakarta.

oigal said...

I concur with David, rather walk around Jakarta at midnight after a few beers than Sydney..

Its a balance, I have had my house robbed but then again left my atm card on the ATM in Bali and it was returned within two hours be someone who searched me out..

Best piece of advice..If they are wearing a government uniform keep your hand on your wallet, just a normal citz..sitdown and have some iced tea ..(tastes like crap tho)

Anita said...

I guess you all are lucky. Lens, the manager of Eastern Promise has lost mobile phone at least 10 times (last time I counted was last year, so he probably has broken his own record now), in the taxi. But I was told once that he finally woke up at the crucial moment (still in the taxi) and demanded to get his belongings back. How the taxi driver managed to reach into his pocket whilst driving at the same time, I had no idea. It's something David Blaine tries to master and it's a basic training here....

johnorford said...

Well I don't think I'm particularly lucky, just not particularly naive either...

Jakarta Casual said...

perception is everything, especially in matters like this

nearly every indonesian i know has a horror story relating to using public transport...either them or a friend.

just cos a couple of bules have seen nothing means nowt

the offenders tend to be cowardly bullies and are unlikely to try anything on when they risk being attacked in the process which is what may happen if a couple of foreigners see them

a recent story doing the rounds was about kids being kidnapped on the way home from school...

the middle classes read papers and watch tv and are scared shitless of what they perceive goes on out there on the streets hence they locl themselves up in gated comunities and have ppeople run errands for the most mundane tasks

perception lah

Beni Bevly said...

As Indonesians, we always say it is something to do with "mentality". I think that kind of behaviors take place because they do not have dignity.

Indonesia was occupied for more than 300 years and probably,this has changed some Indonesians' behaviors. The behaviors that you and most people experience in Indonesia.

Jakarta Casual said...

elgsgsorry beni but that is bollox

'we were occupied for 300 years la di bloody dah'

johnorford said...


U gave me the idea for this story when we met up in Jkt!

You hit the nail on the head, it's about perceptions, and rumours run rife.

Everyone has stories about bloody copet, but then when i asked them when they personally had been pickpocketed most of them either couldn't remember or said they were so "street" that no one'd touch them...

To me it doesn't add up.