Bureaucracy (II)

The past two days have given us our first taste of real bureaucracy. Not that genial American kind where people just aren’t very helpful, we’re talking full-bore third world post-authoritarian bureaucracy. As in, you need this form to take here, but you can’t get this form until you go there. Etc.

Fortunately we had a guide for the entire process from the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation. Apparently there is a whole bureaucracy whose job is to help us negotiate the bureaucracy. Our guide, Rizma, has taken us to the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, the Police Headquarters, then back to the Police Headquarters again, back to the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, on to the Department of the Interior, and will next take us to the Immigration Office when the Department of the Interior is done. This is to say nothing of our future job of extending our visas. When you ride around in taxis all day, Jakarta is a pretty nice place.

The results from the elections are trickling in, and it looks as if Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has beaten Megawati Sukarnoputri, the incument. This is a big deal, as it looks like Mega will actually step down when it comes time to turn over power–a rare and important step towards actual democracy. Now SBY actually has to accomplish his campaign promises of cleaning up the political system, improving the economic system, and so on. As some background, SBY is a former general (funny how they like politics) who used to be Mega’s Defense Minister. He decided to run on his own a couple of months ago and surprised everyone by winning both the first round and these runoffs. His campaign slogan seems to have been “I’m Not Megawati,” while her campaign slogan was (really) “Elect The Prettiest Candidate.” Kinda like Bush and Kerry.

We have leads on apartments and so on, and will be checking that out tomorrow. Julie may also have a lead on doing some work helping out Indonesian students at the Fulbright office. We’ve also discovered that our hotel has beautiful views from the roof, and we will attempt to post pictures after we take them.

Two final notes on Indonesian television: Animal Planet Asia features a tiger who adopted a baby antelope, and elephants and other exotic creatures. We also found a show called Bule Gila. This translates, pretty directly, to “Crazy Cracker.” (Or, “Crazy White People”.) The show basically consists of taking two expats and seeing how they fare as true Indonesians, working as vegetable vendors and the like. Then, the Indonesians laugh at them because they can’t do it right. Can you imagine the American equivalent? Take a new immigrant from some Third World country and say “please drive this SUV to Costco.”