I’ve had two recent interviews in very swanky locations. One was in the lobby cafe of the Jakarta Four Seasons, which is probably the nicest hotel in Jakarta. It was absolutely astounding the way that they were able to plop a hotel down in the middle of stinky, noisy Jakarta and make it seem cool, expansive, and peaceful. Of course, it was teeming with tuxedo’d bellmen and women eager to please by carrying your laptop bag and pulling out your chair for you.
Another meeting was at “Cilandak Town Square,” a mall in far southern Jakarta near the Jakarta International School. This was not nearly as ritzy as the Four Seasons, but rather spoke of a certain unabashed wealthy Westerner attitude. In contrast to the very wealthy areas of central Jakarta which have large ethnic Chinese clienteles, this place seemed more of an expat’s area. I met my interviewee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, which was within plain sight of the Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, San Francisco Coffee, Dunkin Donuts, and about five other “independent” Indonesia chains that trade on being essentially indistiguishable from Starbucks. I overheard lots of American English spoken by high school students, as well as a fair smattering of Dutch and French. All the international schools are down there, and we must have met just as they were letting out. Although it was hardly recognizeable as Indonesia–it seemed a lot more like Malaysia, minus the headscarves–I could see the attraction. On a whim, I checked out the grocery store in the basement. Very fancy, but also featuring goods like Skippy Peanut Butter and Ore-Ida frozen French fries.
This is unrelated, but here are three words that have been giving me a ton of trouble lately. They’re like tongue-twisters, and I always end up sounding like a fool. Of course, they are words that I need a whole bunch for my research.
- berketentangan (BURR-kuh-ton-TAHNG-ahn): to come into conflict; as in, the goals of group X and group Y came into conflict with one another
- mewawancarai (muh-wah-wahn-CHAH-rah-ee): to interview someone; as in, I interview people for my research
- menandatangani (muh-nahn-dah-TAHNG-ahn-ee): to sign something; as in, Soeharto signed three IMF agreements