Posts Tagged ‘ Jalan Jaksa ’

Nongkrong on the corner at Jalan Jaksa

I had just said goodbye to my new friend that I had met through the Couch Surfing website. Although we didn’t end up making it to the Taring Babi house as initally planned it was still a good night of hanging out and seeing some cool Jakarta things. But now, I was alone again on the streets of Jakarta. At 10pm outside Sarinah Plaza I wondered where I should go next. It seemed a good idea to start looking for somewhere to sleep.

The decision was between looking for a street called Jalan Jaksa where apparently all the cheap backpackers stay or to make my way through Kepong Kacang and hopefully find my way back to the hostel that I had stayed at the night before. I wasn’t too keen on trying to find my way through the dark little streets of Kepong Kacang so I decided I’d find this Jalan Jaksa I’d heard so much about. I still didn’t know where it actually was but I knew that if I walked east I’d be on the right track.

After only five or ten minutes of walking east I did end up finding Jalan Jaksa. On the corner, just hanging out and listening to music, were a bunch of kids – probably 15-18 year olds, I don’t know. I can’t remember how it started, probably with a “Hello Mister” or a “Hey! Rokok?!”, whatever it was I ended up being invited to nongkrong, or whatever the Indonesian equivalent of lepak is, and so sit down and nongkrong with the local teenagers is what I did.

They offered me a drink. It was red, but in an Aqua bottle. I’m not sure what it was. I didn’t try it. They also offered a cigarette but didn’t take up that offer either. Remembering that I still had a bag of tempe goreng and pisang goreng in my bag I pulled it out and offered that to my new friends. All except one of them declined my offer quite strongly, I’m not sure why that is, but one of them took a piece of pisang goreng.

After the usual questions of mau ke mana?, dari mana?, sendirian?, sudah punya cewek?, etc. we somehow got talking about music. They had been blasting some reggae through the small speakers of their phones and asked me what it was I liked. Reggae? Metal? I asked them if they liked punk. Specifically, if they liked a punk band called Marjinal. Of course they all knew Marjinal! Fuck yes! Now this is the Jakarta I was looking for! One of the guys looked through his phone to find a Marjinal song while some of the rest of us started singing Hukum Rimba together. He found the song he was looking for and we gathered around to listen, the volume up as loud as it could.

I asked one, or some, if they’d been to the Taring Babi house. Most of them had. One of them told me that on Saturdays they have… um… they have something that my Indonesian skills didn’t quite understand. But whatever it was, it sounded as though I’d like to be there on a Saturday.

One of them then asked if I ever go to protests. They said there would be a protest tomorrow that they were going to attend. One of them told me it was an anti-corruption protest as another yelled out “Fuck korupsi!”. I asked where it was to be held but I didn’t quite catch the answer. Maybe I’d try to google it in the morning. I asked if I could follow them to the demo but their answer wasn’t so certain.

One of them asked about my religion and I told him that I had no religion. He asked if I believed in God to which I also said no. He asked why. The answer to this question is often hard for me to formulate in a way that I consider coherent in English but now I had to try to do it in Indonesian. I tried to start with points about contradictions in holy books (whichever holy books they may be), science and stuff that I’d recently read in Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and made a mental ‘fuck yeah!’ note of. That didn’t seem to work though, so I just said, “Agama ada banyak hukum, saya tak suka hukum, jadi I tak suka agama.” I think that was an adequate answer as he replied “Ah, kebebasan!”. I also explained that part of my dislike of religion is probably a result of going to a Catholic school. He also pulled out his phone and started playing a different Marjinal song that he had and told me really liked Marjinal because they sing about freedom.

Others came and asked the religious question again and the guy I had just talked to or I would repeat my answers. The others were all Muslims. Just for insurance, I told them that although I don’t have a religion I don’t hate people who do. They understood and one replied with, “Kita bersaudara” and another said something that probably translates to “one love” or “love for all”. But we all agreed that if there’s no love then we must fight for it.

They asked where I was from, so I explained that I was originally from Australia but have been living in Malaysia for the last seven months. They asked where my parents were from and I explained that my dad’s parents had moved to Australia from Italy and that my mother was a descendent of the English colonisers. They asked why my dad’s parents wanted to leave Italy and I told them it was because of the war to which one of them replied “Saya benci perang!”

After finding out that I had come from Malaysia, another of the guys told me that he didn’t like Malaysia. He said something about stealing culture, arts, music, etc. I told him that the way I saw it, most Indonesians (at least those of Java and Sumatra), Malays of Malaysia and Malays of Southern Thailand were all pretty much the same. They all speak a language based on Malay, wear baju kebaya and most are Muslim. The only difference between Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern Thailand  are the lines that were drawn by the different colonisers. I had also heard about these sort of anti-Malaysia sentiments earlier when talking to other people.

At about 11.30pm we all said our goodbyes and I followed one of them as he showed me the way to get to a cheap hostel another Australian had told me about while I was hanging out on the corner.

I found the hostel and after checking in I sat on the bed in the dirty room eating the tempe and pisang goreng I had left. Although I didn’t make it to the Taring Babi house I had managed to find some of the ‘effects’ of the Taring Babi house. And that left me feeling a little bit more optimistic about the youth of Jakarta.