This story is dedicated to my host dad in Indonesia, Papa Pamo, who passed away today. Condolence to Mommy Sonya, Mila, and the rest of the family.
Traffic jam is a generic problem of big cities particularly capitals like Manila and Jakarta. I suppose that made me conclude that Indonesia would be very closely similar to the Philippines. But interestingly, both countries can even be more the opposite with the Philippines being a pre-dominantly Roman Catholic nation and Islam as a dominant religion in Indonesia.
And in a pleasant twist of fate, I was introduced to my host parents – Sonya, a Catholic Pinay from Leyte and Pamo, a Muslim Indonesian. Talk about love that knows no boundaries. Cross-cultural marriage is always a challenge. Add to that a difference in religion. But they made it work. Sonya said that at the onset, they decided that their religion would not get in the way. And it didn’t. She didn’t have to convert. She, in fact, as a devout Catholic told us of her planned pilgrimage trip to Europe in the Easter. It’s refreshing to be in the midst of people living in peace and harmony despite the obvious differences in race, culture, faith, and belief. Though this is also a sad reminder of Christians belonging to different religious sects clashing. And Christians and Muslims with their prejudices and stereotypes of each other.
Anyway, we were able to go to some elegant and spacious malls in Jakarta. Not so crowded like in the Philippines and definitely quieter. We also toured Taman Mini Indonesia which features a literal miniature version of the country so we got to see how structures were built in certain regions.
We had lunch with our bare hands in a restaurant where you don’t have to place your order. You don’t even need to look at the menu because they bring all the food out and you choose a plate you fancy. At the end of the meal, they count the empty plates and that’s what you pay for. What if you just tasted a dish and lied about touching it? Well it just doesn’t happen that way.
After lunch, we went batik shopping at Thamrin City. I bought so many and spent around $55. At that moment, I got worried about baggage weight limit upon our return back home. In the evening, we celebrated Mommy Sonya’s birthday. And surprise-surprise! She served Filipino food. I was so happy.
Leaving Indonesia, I brought with me loads of “extra baggage” – pictures of places, memories of culture, batik souvenirs, and lessons about religious tolerance and love.