Indonesia loses one point for today, but gains another point back. It loses a point because my first interview got postponed, but I didn’t find out until I got to the place where the interview took place. I could tell that I was at the right place because my interviewee is Chinese and the first person to the gate was actually a dog. But then his helper let me know that we’d be meeting at 3, not 9. Argh. That is not good news–I am so far 0 for 1. But I do have plans to do another interview in a couple hours. So that’s OK.
Indonesia gains one point back because I remembered a couple of nice things that I really like here. I’ve been rather annoyed by Jakarta as a city. It’s big and smelly and full of people and traffic and noises. But as I walked down the quiet little side street where I had my meeting scheduled, I remembered some other things. There were nice Indonesian families walking around, happy looking young girls headed to school, smiling guys selling coconuts and pomelos, the clack-clack of mobile soup seller, and the like. When you’re caught in the crush of traffic, it’s easy to forget those quieter scenes.
Another interesting bit has been the effect of living in Malaysia on my view of Indonesia. There is no question that Malaysia is far more developed than Indonesia, much easier to get around and much cleaner. It brings more into focus the problems that Indonesia still has. But the openness of ethnic distrust and conflict in Malaysia has made me much more conscious of ethnic differences here. Before, I didn’t focus that much on it, even though I know that it’s a big deal for many Indonesians. Now, I’m looking a lot more at people’s faces here and trying to see who might be Chinese or partially Chinese. Given that I’m interviewing a number of big figures in the Chinese community here, maybe I’m focusing on this more than before anyway. Anyway, it’s very interesting to focus on people’s physical features here.