I just came home from the mall, so here I am rushing my entry for today about the city I am in. Thinking back on the way home, I was sharing to Ate Lan that I am already starting to be independent. By independent, I meant being able to go out on my own. Today, after school, I went out and rode an angkot on my own. This might be a bit confusing so let me explain.
It is almost 10 months since I first arrived here in Jakarta. Coming here, I got to learn that it won’t be as easy as living in Singapore. Majority of people here are not English language users. It would have been OK if they just cannot speak but the bigger problem is that they cannot even understand it. I remember one time when I went to Giordano and asked for a shirt size. The saleslady took the shirt and went off. Ate Lan and I were chatting while waiting for her to come back. We were already wondering what was taking her so long so we decided to go to the other side to check. We got our answer when we saw her chatting with the another saleslady on the other side away from us. Apparently, she didn’t understand what I said. I was also speaking in a foreign language that she decided to stay on the other side of the store away from me.
In the Philippines, we have the jeepney. Here in Jakarta, we have the angkot. It is similar to the Philippine jeepney that has a particular route. But unlike our jeepney, the angkots have no signage where their routes are. They only use numbers and colors and people just know what to take. Taxi drivers are also native speakers. And sometimes, there are those who take advantage if you speak English. And because I can’t speak Bahasa well, I haven’t taken a cab on my own.
I am fine with bad English as long as it’s understandable. I also make mistakes with correct usage sometimes. The biggest problem that I am experiencing in this city is their lack of English language understanding. I cannot go out as I please. It is only recently that I began walking around the neighborhood on my own. I have learned some words already and can understand conversations through context clues. My Indonesian neighbors are also becoming more familiar each day. I can already greet them in their language. I know the way to the some nearby malls but I am yet to try riding a cab on my own.
Living in this place is a bit comforting knowing that going home is very easy. Also, the streets looks the same. It was easier adjusting because the environment is not very different. I pass by big houses like those in New Manila and their version of sari-sari stores they call warung. It also took me some time to adjust to the right-hand driven cars taking the left side of the street. I would get nervous thinking the other cars are on the wrong lane and would crash into us head-on.
There are also lots of street foods here and most of them have the same sounds as those in the Philippines. I remember my first day here when I heard a man shout taho. I thought they also sell it here. Apparently, they call the tofu here as tahu and they also sell it by shouting around the neighborhood. There is also one that uses a horn like the ones used by those who sell puto.
Indonesia’s Jakarta has lots of similarities with Philippines’ Manila. I am adjusting and learning well so I can survive. Nothing beats home though.