Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Clash of Civilisations

I remember during the first trip to Indonesia, thinking that this country is about as alien as I could imagine. I couldn't wrap my head around it.

Not only was it alien however, it was hospitable, my then girlfriend's family bowled me over with how welcoming they were.

Back then, I didn't go anywhere without someone chaperoning me around the Big Durian. The girlfriend left me a year or so after, but my interest in Indonesia grew, so I figured I needed to cut my own way through the country (however clumsily).

Still after all these years, there are some circles I can't square. Perhaps they don't need squaring.

For example, while for the most part I feel quite at home nattering with pals who wouldn't touch alcohol, and sometimes think about whether something or other is compatible with their religion. I wonder how they would fit in back in with my pals in our godless, alcohol swilling New York.

I remember on that first trip to Indonesia, we were staying at a pal's big house in Jogja. I was pretty indignant at not being able to sleep with the girl I had been living with for a year. Moreover, I thought the little pullavah over not seeing a jilbabed guide's hair a bit stupid.

Sometimes on that trip I felt arrogant at times, feeling that I knew better than Indonesian people. Perhaps confusing wealth or might with right. I confess I still feel this sometimes, but less often.

In any case, I wonder what would happen if the Indonesia and New York side met? They'd probably get on like a house on fire!


tata said...

i don't think so.. let's prove it! invite me to NY! ^^

spew-it-all said...

As the world becomes more globalised everyday, surely we can find NY side in Puket and Mumbai's touch in London. Although this

There are a shitload of Indonesians in Melbourne, perhaps their number is only second to Vietnamese people. Unlike other migrants, i notice that Indonesians seem to mingle with their own kind, walking in a group, or going to Warung Padang for lunch. One i overheard them talking about western civilisation. This undoubtedly happens to other cultures as well.

Some will engage fully with the dominant while the others will maintain their cultures. This is a challenge for everyone to understand the rich and fluid life of multiculturalism, i daresay.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen if the Indonesia and New York side met? They'd probably get on like a house on fire.

---hmm, yes if none were trying to understand differences.

I just hope that the Indonesian who does not drink alcohol won't be seen as an Alien from Asia when he or she steps on the land of a city called "Melting pot" New York.

johnorford said...

Tata and Lulu: 'Getting on like a house on fire' means to get on really well ; )

Citu: Yep, I have no doubt that my Indo pals would find their niche in New York, cos there are a lot of niches here. I just wonder whether it'd match my niche.

Anonymous said...

hi John..
ahh yeah, i belive there'll be clashes when civils from the Big Apple live side by side by ones from Big Durian.
Fruit war will be conducted I may say.
You know what I mean by fruits, rite?
Human bombs, explosive gas, guns, or just plain bare hand fights.

bring along the Godless pals of yours in the battle field,
I'd like to just watch and sipping cappucinos.. classic aint it?

well.. you sure u havent slept wth your former GF?
that must be awful of u. but 1 year living together is such a short time to make an indonesian believe and conduct sex with their partner.

maybe 3-4 more years.. :D

johnorford said...

Mute, not sure I get you... let's put it down to another culture clash : )