We had an interesting weekend. Nothing too exciting, but a couple of neat things to talk about.
1. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s fight sequences look more real than do most other fight sequences in C-list sequels to crappy movies (we watched Universal Soldier: The Return this weekend on TV). It seems that the Muscles from Brussels really can do fairly well for himself, especially when compared to the shoddy acting in the laughable Operation Delta Force IV: Deep Fault, which was also on. We watch these bad sequels because they seem to be the only English-language entertainment available on some Indonesian channels. You can always MST3K them.
2. We went to the ethnic Chinese section of Jakarta, Glodok, this weekend to look around. You can still see the remnants of the violent mass rioting of May 13-14, 1998, as many buildings are still mere piles of rubble. It’s really crazy. This area is known for its electronics, but we were disappointed to find that the prices were not much different than what we would expect in the US. We also didn’t find many DVDs there, but in other places we have seen quality DVDs for a whopping 60 cents. Let us know if you need The Hunt for Red October or Crossroads. It was interesting to look at the people in Glodok. After spending so much time with indigenous Indonesians, you can really tell the difference when looking at an ethnic Chinese Indonesian. Of course, they speak the same language and all, but their faces betray their ethnic origins.
3. It is deceptively difficult to get a hair cut in Indonesia. Not so much that it’s hard to walk into a salon and have them cut it, but explaining what you want is not as straightforward as you’d think. Now, I (TP) often have a hard time communicating what I want in English, so this was extra tough. When you think about it, saying "reproduce this haircut, shorter on the sides but still a little longer on top" is hard to translate. Do Indonesian’s refer to the crown of their skull as the "top," or do they use some other word like "peak"? Do they use the words "short" and "long" to describe hair, or some other vocab words? It’s not straightforward–I ended up pointing and saying "this part" a lot. But the hair cut is pretty OK. In one of the more bizarre scenes of this weekend, an Australian expat getting a haircut at the same time whipped his shirt off for no apparent reason. Everyone seemed to take it in stride, though.
4. We had a very nice cab driver yesterday who was eager to practice his English on us. It was good…he spoke in English, we replied in Indonesian. He claimed to try to memorize two new vocab words every day. Yesterday’s new words were "compliment" and "queueing." This led to the following question: is "macho" a compliment? We told him it was.
5. We visited a great Indian buffet for lunch yesterday. Of course, we were the only two people in the whole giant restaurant, and there were at least four waiters, in addition to hostesses, cooks, the owner, and a maitre d’. For a mere $6.50 a person, we had all-you-can eat North Indian food. We consider ourselves to be connoisseurs of Indian buffets in the United States, and we can say hands down that this was the best that we’ve ever had. It was just far more spiced and flavorful than the comparatively bland stuff we’ve had at home. Plus, in keeping with the overstaffing problem, they brought loads of unidentified bonus snacks right to our table. Very cool. On a funny sidenote, the brochures for the restaurant suffer from comically bad English: "Our food is served with ethnicity." We think that they were describing the fact that the Indonesian waiters and waitresses pasted dots to their foreheads, just like authentic Indians.
6. It actually does really rain a ton during the rainy season.
Dan November 30, 2004
Just checking in on your blog. You guys are quite funny in addition to being good writers with incredibly interesting stuff to report. Happy Thanksgiving from me and Katie, we think of you guys often.