Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
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Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The journey of a broken heart 2

2. The toilet psychology

(Note: this is part 2 of 'the journey' series. To read from the beginning, click here.)

One bad thing I did not realize until too late about taking this trip was that it will involve using public toilet. A lot.

I have been fortunate all my life. My parents are well-off and they protected me really well. They made sure my world is a comfortable world. That's both good and bad. Good because it allowed me to become who I am today (and I can't complain about that), and bad because now I am caught unprepared to live with this one little detail: The world of dirty stinky public toilet.

Some of you may find this ridiculous. Well, I am sorry. Obviously I have been living in a bubble all my life. A bubble where toilets somehow always magically clean itself before I enter.

So the first time I stepped into a public toilet, I thought I have just died and went to hell. In fact, if God is to punish me for all my sins, He would not burn me to eternity. Somehow, that seems less scary. Instead He'd probably send me to a dirty smelly slimy public toilet, with someone outside banging and yelling at the door, telling me to do it quicker. Now that's hell.

So why am I telling you this unpleasant experience?
It's because while sitting there, I realized something.

You see, when you go in, you may not stand the smell and the sight of it. It's dirty. It's stinky. It's disgusting.

But after a while, after you just can't hold your breath anymore, you start to accept it, and guess what: slowly but surely it is not that stinky anymore. Everything is fine. It's all ok.

Now I understand why our city is dirty and why our river is full of trash. Because somehow, after a while we just accepted it. We got used to it. Everything is fine. It's all ok.

And there is more:
Once you leave the stinky toilet for a while, your sense of smell recovers and the next time you come back to one, you realize (again) how stinky it is and you have to start the whole reconditioning process again.

And now I understand why some people (yes, me included) who just returned from a travel abroad, suddenly turned into a complainer, saying how bad things are in comparison to the country they visited.
(A short stop at Singapore's airport with its indoor garden, children playground and internet access, and suddenly Jakarta airport with its liquor ads and dirty bathroom looked incredibly ridiculous. One experience of taking the always-on-time shinkansen and suddenly taking a train at home is like going back to the stone age.)

Now wait, this does not mean I am comparing our country to a toilet.
What I am trying to say is once you are used to certain things, your point of view changes.
And when you step out of it, you hit the reset button and gain back the perspective that you once had.

But even this has a limit. Because after 3 weeks of going in and out of public toilets, I got so good at it that it does not bother me anymore. Not one bit. I am so proud.

And that made me think:

Maybe this is why it's so difficult to fight corruption in this country.
We've been stuck in the corruption toilet for way too long.
We know it's stinky, we know it's dirty. But hey, that's how we do our 'business' all this time and we're used to it.

Everything is fine. It's all ok.



Anonymous ronzak said...

ouch sir. these 3 past posts less bite (aduh pak 3 posts belakangan ini kurang menggigit). why yes, maybe because the person himself does not write it? i assume you don't quite convey the experience feeling and ambiance? or the story itself is too usual? i don't know. or try to let him write with his own words or style. usually if something really stains my heart i would depict it more easily.

please pardon my criticism.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


thank you for your input.
Really sorry to disappoint you.

Not everybody is a writer, and the person with the story did not want to write it himself, so this is the only way to get his story out.

We'll try to do better next time.
Thank you again.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous colson said...

Perfect observation, I guess. What have become part of your life, what have become an integral part of the society you live in, can not be changed easily.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...



7:15 PM  
Blogger piqs said...

Yeah, maybe we are all too used to our current conditions.

When i came back after being abroad for awhile I also has those thoughts:
How frustrating our bureaucracy is, How crazy the traffic is, how horrible our rubber time habit, etc.

But, we can also use the way of thinking to appreciate some things:
How helpful the people are, how our nature is dazzlingly beautiful, how rich our culture is..

Well, to wrap it out, i think it is a good idea to step out from our routines for once in a while :D

5:58 AM  

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