When I was a kid I had a mate whose old man owned a Chinese takeaway and who had a very attractive sister. It was a decent enough joint and I spent quite a lot of time over there - but not really getting any sort of positive reaction from my mate’s sister whose tight black leggings and wonderfully long, jet-black hair kept me in a sort of adolescent trance.
But I got to eat spring rolls. Lots of ‘em.
Anyway, on one particular occasion, I’ve stayed over a lot longer than usual (the clock says 11.20pm) and a bunch of yobs are milling around outside. Yep, the pubs have just chucked out and it’s Friday night.
They then come in, all six of them: raucous and obnoxious; making all sorts of nasty racial insults.
But they are pissed and they are slow. And, unlike my mate’s father, they don’t have a baseball bat (his one is handily kept behind the counter but out of sight of the yobs).
One of the yobs pays, takes his change, and then decides he’s been overcharged (even though the most basic arithmetic is probably beyond him).
The atmosphere is charged and I can sense something is gonna happen.
But before it does my mate’s father takes the baseball bat and holds it above his head ready to swing: a “preemptive strike” years before Bush got the idea into his head.
There’s an indeterminable pause when noone says anything and then the yobs just leave. They realise it ain’t worth it.
But here in Indonesia, such displays of aggressive, antisocial behavior like this are extremely rare. Even the premen in Tanah Abang are polite. Now I’m not saying that violence never erupts in Indonesia – because when the pressure cooker does explode all hell really does break loose (May 98 etc) – just that there’s a pleasant absence of that loutish, antisocial behavior that is so prevalent in many of the cities and towns of the so-called “West”.
But while the aggression may be missing in Indonesia, the social retards are still out there – and in huge numbers I imagine – as a recent visit to Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Cikini confirmed:
Ismail Marzuki may be one of Indonesia’s greatest composers, famed for such compositions as Halo-Halo Bandung (1946), Selendang Sutera (1946), Sepasang Mata Bola (1946), and Melati di Tapal Batas (1947), but his statue, erected at the site named after him, is covered in scrawling graffiti.
Yobs? Get everywhere don't they?
Taman Ismail Marzuki Jakarta Arts Center (TIM)
73 Jalan Cikini Raya Menteng-Cikini,
Tel: (021) 3193 4740