08 May 2008

Culture Shock -- Jakarta

I am not quite sure why I bought this book!

Maybe it was to make sure that the authors (Terry Collins and Derek Bacon) get at least some royalties for their efforts or perhaps the more likely excuse is that I needed to see whether my experiences were the same or similar to others. Then again maybe I bought the book because I just wanted to criticize the characterization or stereotyping of what it is like for us white folk living in Indonesia and particularly Jakarta!

The book set me back some IDR 163,000 from Kinokuniya in Plaza Indonesia. I was in Kinokuniya to buy a cross-stitch magazine for my better half and I happened to see the book and thought, why not? So, I whacked it on the counter and I now have my very own copy!

You might be wondering why a bloke who has spent so long in Jakarta wants to read anything to do with Culture Shock. Well, even after all this time living in Indonesia I am still "hey Mister" and perhaps this is both the beauty and the beast that is Jakarta; no matter how long you might have lived here and no matter how much you have integrated into society, you will never get away from being "Hey Mister!"

The book is well written (at least for my mind) and I found myself smiling and chuckling to myself as I read through it. It is surprising how much of the experience is common and how much we tend to forget of what has happened. It was nice to read and remember some of those long forgotten experiences that were jogged back into the more conscious memory!

I know one of the authors (Terry Collins) and perhaps I should make this as a disclaimer. Nevertheless, those of you that know me would know that I pull no punches. If I thought the book was garbage I would say so in not such an eloquent way! Yet, the book, I have found has been worth the money I outlaid for it, if for no other reason than it reminded me of moments that I have enjoyed during my stay.

Funnily enough most people are reporting that they are not finding this book in the arrival halls to Jakarta but rather in the departure shopping areas. I guess this might afford those on their way out of Jakarta a chance to buy the book for the purposes of answering this question: "what the hell just happened to me?"

I would have thought though that the best spot for this would be in the departure lounges of foreign locales and the arrival lounges of points of entry into Indonesia...but I guess this is why I studied law and not marketing!

But for anyone interested in learning the "ins and outs" of the Jakarta experience then this is perhaps the book for you. The book contains sections on the history and politics of Jakarta, settling in for those of you who might want to be more than tourists, visa and immigration information, business information, food and entertaining, fitting in, and communicating, among a number of others.

I think the most valuable learning tools in the book are the short glossary at the end, the culture quiz, and the "do's and don'ts" section.

So, go out and buy the book as it might just help you understand the experience you are about to have or the experience that you have just had!


Jakartass said...

Thanks Rob.

That's another Rp.5,000 towards my pension fund.

Or a beer the next time we're in the vicinity of a Bintang.

GJ said...

Hi Rob,

Got it in Singapore last October. As we are still "newbies" here we have yet to experience all that is stated in the book, but looking forward.


Finally Woken said...

I bought the book last December and tried to get Terry to sign the book for me, but he's harder to catch than the wind! The book is in my parents' now. Maybe this June Terry is available for "jumpa fans" *lol

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