Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jakarta Tales - Close Encounter with the Creepy Kind

Sitting outside Sarinah attracted an ultra-friendly local. This photo only courtesy of

Jakarta, Indonesia
- I decided to check out Sarinah on my way back from the National Monument - aka Monas. I liked this store for several reasons. If you missed buying souvenirs from any of your itinerary, Sarinah might have products from those places. They sell the best quality handicrafts, local products and souvenirs at the most affordable prices. At the first floor, you will also find a video nook called "Music Plus" where I purchased several Indonesian DVD titles. I just couldn't help myself, gawd! I thought i was done with that last night at Plaza E-X.

After getting a few more items - gifts for family, I came out of the store and decided to kill the time from the ledge of the shop. People-watching might not be a bad idea considering I had 3 hours with nothing to do. And I felt I've had enough walking for the day.

I pulled a DVD from my haul and just as I was trying to read through its Bahasa credits, an Indonesian guy to my right started chatting with me. It was cool. I love meeting locals. But this one had a particular "tune" that was starting to get weirder by the minute. Was he asking for money? There's always something, and I am far from being paranoid. I'm used to the ways of the big city. And this, after all, is the capital. I've been around too much not to notice these things.

"I like you. Your face looks good," he started and went on further, "... and I like your body!" Eh? Something is lost in translation? I am, for all intents and purposes, not muscular nor gym fit. So that made me a little queasy. Then he went on, "But you are..." - motioning with both hands - yes, that I wasn't tall! Now isn't that pleasant - for someone actually sizing me up? My new friend seems to have dispensed all manners of proper decorum.

His name was Irwan. He'd look at me intently, occasionally tapping my arm. "You have nice teeth," he went on! Would I be too rude if I just leave? I have nowhere else to go. I've already checked out from my hotel - it was just the baggage waiting for me there. Neither was there any new movie at Cinema 21 - I"ve seen "Unstoppable" in Manila and "Harry Potter" last night. So I just played along.

He kept asking me about anything Filipino. What's the national costume? Why are Philippine leaders always corrupt? Why are our rallies relentless and frequent? (This is an oft repeated question everywhere I go! Embarrassing!) What was my job? (I told him I was involved with a family business involving sales of agricultural products. I wasn't of course.) What did I study in college? (I said Management. I love being creative and imaginative. I should have said I invent gadgets that make people shut up.) Did I have a girlfriend?

He ended up giving me a color travel booklet written in Indonesian Bahasa, and even dedicated something: "Have a nice meet with me at Sarinah Shopping Center" then wrote down his complete address. It was sweet and flattering, but I couldn't help get a little uncomfortable.

"You are so brave you travel alone!" he said as I finally excused myself. I was told the same by a guy named Nur from my ferry boat ride from Bali. I scare myself all the time. In fact, his boundless curiosity was a reason to get scared. But scaring myself is a passion. I don't exactly plan for it, but it is inevitable when one travels alone. And it allows me to experience moments of such exquisite inscrutability.

This is the Eye in the Sky!


Siddhartha Joshi said...

interesting encounter for sure, though in the end the guy didn't at all expect anything from u. hmmm...very unusual, yet interesting!

eye in the sky said...


He did offer massage but I wouldn't let him touch me. LOL

It was a weird experience, but it's these encounters that make travels a wee bit more colorful.

Siddhartha Joshi said...

hahaha...of course :)