Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jakarta Diaries : 3 : Getting Used To

I joined our office in Jakarta, and started working. I will not bother you with the details of work, simply because, the technical terms would not matter to you, or interest you. And with some differences, work is more or less same across all the IT companies. I’ll tell you about people, places around Jakarta.

My company has few clients in Indonesia, and hence they have opened an office there. This office has a mix of local Indonesians, some relocated Indians, and some people like me for a short duration. The client also has office in the same building. Now one strange thing about the buildings here is the floor numbers. People here are superstitious about numbers. They don’t have floor number 13 in building. After 12th floor, you reach directly to 14th floor. :D And in my office building 4th floor was written as 3A.

Like I said in the previous post, Indonesians are a pleasant lot. They keep chatting and laughing dramatically loud, in a day you are bound to hear all these and some funny noises you cannot make out what they express with that. Most of people I came across were friendly, from my colleagues to taxi drivers, from receptionists to bank security guards, were friendly, respectful and happy to help. Yes there were few exceptions, but rare. And not just because we appear foreigners, I observed that they behaved that way with each other’s also.

People are crazy about Football, and so were my Indian colleagues, so I heard a lot of excited and heated discussions about the game. FIFA was approaching so each one was getting vocal about the team he supports, and discussions used to heat up. Many of them placed bets also on who would reach finals, who would win the world cup. On my last day of the office, we had a futsal game as project event, a small version of football in every aspect, smaller indoor stadium, and shorter time. We had fun there. Being an IT professional, everyone was satisfied by merely being able to run and play for that long.

There is a Friday Street Market near my office, like Indian weekly bazaars in many cities and villages, this is only on Friday. My colleague Bibhu, took me there, and the craziness about football reflected here as well, as the two of the biggest crowd attracting stalls were having football jerseys and accessories. Apart from that there were variety of stalls having tools, kids cloths, electronics, dvds etc.

On my first day in office, around tea time, I was working on my laptop and suddenly people started running, and made a big noise, and gathered around a desk in corner. I was surprised by that noise first, but saw everyone was laughing, and those who were sitting also were making running noise with their feet on the floor. When the crowd around that desk scattered I noticed everybody had some fruits or chocolate in their hands, and then I understood it was all for the evening snacks. Twice a day, some chocolate or some snacks is served on the floor along with some fruits. And these people turned this into a game; the first to reach gets the fruits, none for the last.

When there is little or no work, or in break time they even play computer games like counter strike in office. Once for some reason I went to the client’s office to meet some person there, and they were playing a game on their workstation with the gaming console. Well, this is common in many cool companies, but in India many companies ban social media, and don’t even have card games in the work station. I wished we had such freedom in our office too, but I doubt if we’d work at all if this was allowed.

I learnt some bits of local language i.e. Bahasa. (similar to Sanskrit word Bhasha for language). Thank you is “terima kasih”. Milk is called as Susu (urine in Hindi :D). Indonesians address each other as Mas or Pak to show respect, like Mr., or Sir, and they use it often in mails or in conversations.

As the first weekend was getting closer, I was eager to visit places around Jakarta. But the problem was I had no company. I was the last to go to Jakarta from my office, so everybody else had already visited most of the places there. For some of them, it was their second or nth trip to Jakarta. I was not able to decide on the place to go first.

We had to stay late in office on Friday, so I was sleeping till late on Saturday. Half of the day was wasted due to sleep and rains. In the evening, I had no company so I took my camera and went out to have a walk around in Kuningan, the area where I was living.

Click here for the pictures I clicked during my walk around.


I returned, and met one guy from office in the hotel lift. We didn’t know each other by name, but recognized each other. Just to take a chance I asked him if he was interested in visiting some place tomorrow. He said yes, and I got company for Sunday. We exchanged names, and phone numbers quickly as we had reached my floor, and I came to my room with a plan for tomorrow. J