Because I’m sure some of you have been waiting for this…

S and I were having a brief conversation last night about how living in Indonesia doesn’t really feel all that different than living in Canada. I mean, yes, in many ways it is obviously drastically different (no winter, lots of garbage, different culture, can’t drink the water, the meat sucks, things that are cheap are really cheap and things that are expensive are really expensive, garbage, etc…), but one of the interesting things about living here in Indonesia is that both S and I feel completely the same as we did in Ottawa: it’s not as though living here has changed us in any profound way. I think we chalked it up to the both of us perhaps being more flexible and amenable to our surroundings: we’re fairly easy going, and can adapt well. We don’t necessarily need routines to define us, and we were pretty OK with leaving our comfort zones for this adventure. That, and we’ve become a bit desensitized to some of the radical differences between Canada and Indonesia (the phenomenal wealth imbalance, the complete and utter lack of even the simplest forms of infrastructure of any kind, and so on).

So where is this all going? Well, I wanted to set up the fact that there are some differences out there that are just downright hilarious. More specifically, merchandise!

So, I found these at the local “Giant”. Giant is like what Walmart would be if there were even less regulations on copyright. Case in point: these fake-ass “Beats By Dr Dre” headphones. Normal Beats headphones are ridiculously overpriced at about $150+, and these ones are a whopping 30,000Rp, or… $3. Yep. Three bucks.
This demonstrates two things: counterfeit merchandise can be so cheap that even someone making $200/month can afford it, and Indonesia has a serious inflation issue.
This is a pre-teen jewelry store I found at a mall. It’s like what “Ardene” would be like if you cut the quality by 4/5ths, and you let a bunch of hormonal 16 year olds make the business decisions. You can;t see it very well from the weirdly-lit sign up top, but the store floor banner shows you that this store, for pre-teen / teenagers, in a phenomenally conservative country, is called “Naughty”. And there’s no confusion here, either. Their in-store English promo literature follows through, proclaiming that “slutty is in”, etc… It’s weird that places like these exist in such a socially conservative place, if I had to guess, I’d say that they’re banking on the fact that most Indonesian can’t read English and won’t pick up on it? The whole time I was around it, I felt like keeping my eyes open for windowless vans. Creepy for sure.
Ah, the infatuation with America. It’s everywhere, and it’s awesome, because I was really worried that during my three years here I was going to be deprived of my favorite food: Liberty Red Meal, just like Mom used to make.
I didn’t try this particular dish, but it reminds me of another phenomenon here: Western Food that tastes NOTHING like Western Food. You look at this, and you think “OK, they just have a hilarious name for Spaghetti & Meatballs, but I guarantee that those noodles are Rice noodles, the meatballs taste like a soy-platic hybrid, and the sauce has something to do with fish. Every time – every SINGLE time – we’ve had “Western food”, it just doesn’t taste right. At all. But they try, and it’s appreciated, if not hilarious.
For instance, they have A&W here, and it’s branded as “All American Food”, despite it being awful. Wait, American food is awful. OK then, so they got that one right… but it’s far, far worse than the A&W’s back home.
Haha, this one was awesome. So we were at the Jakarta airport, waiting to go to Singapore, and we came across this place: Old Town White Coffee. I just have no words. Is it a play on the old Dutch Colonial system? Like, a coffee place in Old Town for white people? And the absolute kicker was that it was filled almost exclusively with white people, and all the Indonesians were at a different coffee place about 70 feet down the hall. At least it lived up to it’s name, I guess? Maybe I’m reading too much into it…
This is a shirt you all should recognize: it’s Harrison Ford, reprising his best known role as the fearless treasure hunter Indiana Jon… huh? Wait, what? “Liberal Bravery Jones”. Oh. Aren’t you sure it’s Indian… no? Really? “Bravery Jones”? Look, if you are going to blatantly rip off a half-billion dollar copyrighted character, just own it. Just make a frigging Indiana Jones t-shirt, don’t think you’re being smart by taking one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time (and yes, it’s a trilogy, Crystal Skulls be damned) and making the titular character look like he belongs in a $0.99 iPhone app. You’re stealing intellectual property man, just go all the way.

I’ll probably post another set of pics like these when I have enough of them to make a blog post to dump them all in. Have a good Sunday!
-B

2 thoughts on “Because I’m sure some of you have been waiting for this…

  1. I kinda feel the same way about being in China. It’s basically the same life, but with less rules and more frustrations at times. Day to day, I keep on keeping on in English. It takes an effort to make it seem like you’re living in a foreign culture.

    Oh, and street BBQ is awesome. Figure that you’re probably the same on that

    Like

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