The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
>John Stuart Mill
I’ve gone to have lunch with this English guy I know at the food court of Pasar Grande in Blok M. But after the grub has been brought over by the waitress, this dude takes out a knife and fork from the bag he is carrying, and then starts to use ‘em to eat his food!
A pretty crazy thing to do I’m sure you’ll agree, so I ask him whether he always brings his own cutlery when eating out. He says he does and explains to me that he doesn’t trust restaurants to properly clean the cutlery and, more to the point, finds the whole idea of using a knife and fork that have been in someone else’s mouth before quite disgusting.
A pretty reasonable and rational answer I have to admit, but I’m still more than a little concerned that I’ve ended up having lunch with a complete and utter crackpot. A right wacko.
But then again, aren’t a lot of Europeans a bit eccentric? Bjork obviously. And of course the Brits. But, in contrast, why are so few Indonesians eccentric (apart from the extremist wackos of course)? Nothing ever seems to bother them: no freaking out to a dripping tap, or insect torturing, refusing to fly (Dennis Bergkamp), binge eating, screaming at incompetent bank officials, avoiding the cracks in pavements (cos there aren’t no pavements?), or anorexic tendencies here.
But how much of a nutter are you? Try the quiz below (all of which I’ve come across in the time I’ve been in Indonesia):
1. On a long distance bus journey in Indonesia, have you ever refused to go to the toilet in a stop-off at one of those Padang restaurants “cos there’s no way you’re gonna crap in a hole in the ground” and would only ever consider using a Western style toilet (i.e. a slightly more elaborate hole in the ground)?
2. Do you refuse to employ servants/maids cos you like to walk around your house naked?
3. Do you get PG Tips sent over from Old Blighty at great expense?
4. Do you bike to work, arrive half-drenched in sweat, get odd looks from all your Indonesian colleagues, and still think you’re doing your bit to save the world?
5. Do you enjoy mimicking gecko sounds?
6. Have you ever asked the muezzin at the local mosque – who looks a lot like Imam Samudra - to “turn it down a bit please mate”?
7. (German readers only) Do you wear one red flip-flop and one green flip-flop on either foot to demonstrate your individuality and political allegiances?
8. Have you ever tried to get even with a psychotic Metro Mini driver after being cut up?
9. As “this is the tropics”, do you ever wear gaudy looking Hawaiian-style shorts when visiting one of Jakarta’s fancy shopping malls?
10. Have you ever come home from a nightclub in Jakarta at around 6am in the morning with a scantily dressed girl on either arm and walked the 50 odd meters to your house from the taxi without even considering the reaction of your neighbors who have just got up?
11. Do you give standing ovations to the sounds of sate sellers, SBY’s latest speech, or the dangdut music on the radio?
12. Do you think that someone’s always watching you? (actually they always are in Indonesia, but that’s besides the point)
13. Do you choose not to partake in the great Jakarta gorefest of cheap pirated DVDs cos it’s “immoral” and instead order two or three original DVDs a month from Amazon’s website?
14. Do you blog?