On yin and yang

Pick up any guide book to Indonesia, and you can be sure that somewhere in its pages you will find the oft-used platitude, “Indonesian people are among some of the friendliest and happiest people on planet Earth”.

“Always smiling,” claims the Lonely Planet.

But while such (condescending and patronizing?) generalizations are grounded in truth - Indonesians are a warm and open people, there is another side to the Indonesian psyche, a side certainly not touched on upon by travel books, but which, if you live here for any length of time, becomes very apparent.

It’s as if there has to be a counterbalance to bring things back into equilibrium. Yes, you can have the smiles but there is a price to be paid. The dance on a knife edge where even the most trivial of problems has the potential to rapidly escalate into something far more serious if – and this is important – face is lost. It is said that the communal riots some years ago in the Maluku Islands, which left over 10,000 people dead, stemmed from an altercation between a bus driver and a passenger. Or perhaps you stand in front of someone at a music concert – as I once did – and then get threatened with murder (naturally). And don’t ever knock someone’s drink in a club. Or perhaps you ask the locals to turn down the dangdut music keeping you awake at 2am. Or maybe you even have the effrontery to accidentally brush into another vehicle whilst negotiating Jakarta’s jam-packed streets….

Police: Livina sped away after brushing another vehicle

Detik> The police have yet to ask for an explanation from the driver and passenger of a Nissan Livina which crashed into a catfish roadside eatery (!) as well as several motorcyclists. Nonetheless, the preliminary investigations reveal that the hapless Livina driver Andikan Pradika (27) had been speeding after earlier slightly brushing another vehicle.

"From eyewitnesses we have learnt that the Livina driver had earlier brushed beside a Taruna car leaving a cafe," said traffic policeman, Kompol Hindarsono (27/12/2012).

The vehicle which was driven by Andika and with his Korean friend Hwancheol (27) in the passenger seat quickly sped away.

"In one kilometer, the Livina struck 3 motorcycles," said Hindarsono.

“The car then crashed into the roadside eatery and came to a halt after smashing into an Avanza”.

"There are 7 victims. Two dead: one died on the spot and the other in hospital”.


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