As an Indian living in Indonesia, I have so many experiences including Indonesian habits. These habits were so hard for me to cope up with and I will tell you why…
1. Waking up Early
I live in Yogyakarta, a sub urban area or you may call it a little city (my wife insists Yogya is a city though), you have to wake up early to do almost anything and to catch up with anything. Unlike in Jakarta where you have to wake up early due to the heavy traffic jam, waking up early in Yogya means you are a diligent and polite in person.
Waking up at 4 am when you can hear the praying call from the mosque then at 5 am you do morning walk or jogging. Five o clock in the morning is the best time for you to socialize with your neighbors. If you do not socialize here then it means you die in your environment. After that, especially on Sunday, I will go to church to catch the morning service. Then,….I can go back to my sleep on Sunday or prepare to go to work after breakfast in usual days.
2. Many social meetings
In Yogyakarta, people care for each other. Here, I live in a very communal life rather than individual life. Communal life likes to require many meetings from its members. There are arisan (saving meeting), security meeting, donation meeting, community service meeting (kerja bakti), and meeting after Lebaran day (celebrating Ied Mubarak). In arisan, you have to save money which is called a traditional bank and you can take your saving before Ied Mubarrak day. In donation meeting, you have to donate some amount of money between ten to twenty thousand rupiah if there is someone passed away or sick. In community service meeting is the time when there is a specific job division like who is cleaning the gutter, cutting plants and trees, sweeping the road, and many more. Two meetings that I like are security meeting and meeting after Lebaran day, you just need to talk, listen to the chief, and eat some yummy fried stuffs (Yogyanese called it gorengan).
3. Exchanging Foods
This is a very nice habit in Indonesians. It is when people cook and you can smell the yummy aroma then the next thing you get is you have the yummy foods on your dining table without cooking it. But of course, you cannot have this thing all the time unless you do the same to your neighbors. When my wife cooks Indian dishes or baking roti, she will make it in an enough portion so she can share it with the neighbors. It is more or like taking and giving but in a very nice gesture so you know that you can count on your neighbors when you need any help.
At first, I thought my wife is just exaggerated because she sometimes gives a small pack of foods to our neighbors or sharing some vegetables we got from the village to the neighbors. But, after getting the same treatment from the neighbors and I am happy now since I have understood the actual meaning of this habit.
4. Night watch
You may not get this experience in some places in Indonesia because each place has its reason whether having or not having a night watch. Perhaps it is a dangerous zone that requires more than a night watch or it has high criminality case that it needs a night watch.
A night watch in the place where I live needs to keep people safe from a thief because there are so many rental houses and people can socialize with each other. It is a time when you have to gather in a small shack after 11 pm and then the security chief will give the tasks which is decided in the security meeting who will stay in the shack and who will go round to check the area then what time we will exchange the roles. For me, I love to stay in the shack because my wife will deliver yummy foods for me and I can eat the foods while chatting with the neighbors and watching TV. There is a TV installed in the small shack.
5. Merry Pray Call
Since most of the population in Indonesia are Muslim, there are so many mosques around the area where I am living. There are 4 mosques which are located one hundred meter away from my house. When the praying time comes then you can hear the praying call from these four mosques in a loudspeaker. The interesting thing is two of the mosques have the praying call roaring at the same time and two others follow the first two.
This condition is so different in Mumbai. In Mumbai, the government controls and arranges the location of the mosque, the volume of the praying call, and Mosque’s Imam so the praying call is not so loud like in Indonesia and there is no time different for praying call.
Related to its loudness of the praying call, you can imagine that it is so loud even it is still 4 am early in the morning. The first time for me having this experience, I was awake from my sleep and I asked my wife why the praying call is so loud. My wife said that Indonesians need loud praying call because Indonesian will not notice if the call is just in low volume like in Mumbai, the loud volume will bring more spirit to Indonesian Muslims to pray. Well, that’s my wife’s answer and I know she is a sweetheart.
These are the five Indonesian habits which are really interesting. I am eager to know which one is an interesting habit for you when you stay in another country or you may just live in Indonesia like me.