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.
Feedback: indonesia.anonymus at gmail dot com


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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Any Luggage ?

We won't call ourselves 'road warriors', but we do travel a lot. Understandably, when it comes to picking a topic for small-talks during coffee-breaks or luncheons, airlines is the easiest pick. Nobody in our industry seems to mind us rubbishing the airlines. Topics on cancellations, delays, missing luggage or double-booked seat are always popular.

One time the hottest topic was the Southwest Airlines policy concerning overweight travelers. If you don't know yet, Southwest Airlines requires overweight or obese passengers who take up all of part of two airplane seats to purchase two tickets [1].

One colleague said "Actually, the fairest scheme would be to weigh the passengers and then calculate the ticket price based on their weight..."

This, of course, drew protests from the IA heavyweights.
"That's not fair," one said. "That's discriminating against the plus-sized people..."

We of course respect that opinion. Some says genetic factors may have an effect in causing people to be vertically-challenged [2]. Not anybody's fault if some of us are heavier than others.

But let's have a hypothetical experiment:

We picked the lightest and the heaviest person in our group:
The smallest is a nice lady, let's call her S, who is 52 kg in weight. The heaviest, a charming gentleman, call him B, is 76 kg.

Say S and B are both going to fly on the same airline. We fly with Singapore Airlines quite frequently, so let's pick that as an example.
If you fly business-class on Singapore Airlines, you get 30 kg baggage allowance. If you exceed 30 kg, you pay more [3].

B checks-in with exactly 30 kg of luggage. Total weight of him plus the luggage: 76 + 30 = 106 kg.

S checks-in with 54 kg of luggage. Total weight of her plus the luggage: 52 + 54 = 106 kg.

Same total weight. But S is slapped with a hefty fee because her luggage is 24 kg overweight...

Is that fair?

[1] - Southwest Airlines' policy concerning overweight travelers
[2] CDC - Overweight and Obesity: Contributing Factors
[3] - Baggage Allowance

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We Don't Fit

We unfortunately are too busy slaving away again. But we love to blog, so let's have a short one.

The other day a colleague showed us the Jakarta Post's reader's profile [1]. Have you seen it?
It's interesting.

Apparently, if you are a reader of the Jakarta Post, chances are :

You are an Indonesian man, married, and above 50 years of age. You have the newspaper delivered to your home, and you read it every morning.
You have a post-graduate degree, hold a job (very possibly a senior position) , and -- read this -- you spend more than 10 million a month in household expenditure...

Eh? more than 10 million? Each month?

We read the Jakarta Post, you see.

Now we are wondering: Whose 10 mil was it that we spend each month? And what do we possibly spend it on?


[1] The Jakarta Post Reader's Profile

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ladies be Warned

We here at IA of course are in favor of equality for women. But the following is not good news:
There is one area where women have almost reached equality with men: Smoking.

"Women in former generations smoked at a rate lower than men. Men smoked much more than women in the decades of the 40s and 50s... Now women smoke almost as much as men.[1]"

This of course concerns us, because while the IA male smokers are trying hard to quit, some of the IA ladies have gone the other way and started lighting up.

Read this: … Women smokers are likely to increase as a percentage of the total. ... And as a recent official report showed, they seem to be less influenced by the anti-smoking campaigns than their male counterparts [2].

We wonder why.

Is it because the warning label on cigarette-pack scares men more than women?
In Indonesia, the warning says (roughly translated): Smoking can cause cancer, heart attack, impotency and may complicate pregnancy.

Well, cancer should scare everybody. So should heart attack. Or not?

"Every year, [in the US] smoking kills more than 276,000 men and 142,000 women through smoking-related diseases, including lung and other cancers, heart disease, stroke, ...[3]".
Well, well. No wonder it scares men more than women.

Smoking can cause impotency? Men's problem.

Complicated pregnancy?
If you are just like IA ladies who are married with kids (and not planning to have more), complicated pregnancy is no longer a concern.

Folks, looks like the cigarette warning label is not a warning enough for women. Maybe we need to make some changes here.
If we could suggest some changes to the warning label, what would we say?

Below are some suggestions :
(drafted by IA men, for IA ladies, because we care..)

  • Smoking makes you fat.
    This is the first that comes to mind, considering women are more concerned about losing weight than men [4].
    Unfortunately it's quite the opposite. Actually quit smoking makes you fat. "Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. It speeds up your metabolism and affects your taste. When you quit smoking food tastes better and you feel hungrier [5]."

    Darn... Can't use this one.

  • Smoking makes you look less educated.
    Ladies, read the statistics: Women who receive less formal education are more likely to become smokers, and smoking rates decrease with higher levels of formal education. [6]. No point dressing for success if you keep puffing away...

  • Smoking will make you go bald.
    Forget those shampoo commercials, ladies. This one is true [7].
    We know how "Women more than men have a significant psychological investment in their appearance, and are likely to react more negatively to events such as hair loss...[8]" , so stop smoking right now.

  • Smoking will make you look even more like your mother-in-law.
    That's right ladies. Smoking causes wrinkles [9]. We know how much you 'love' your mother-in-law [10], so stop smoking before it's too late!

  • Smoking : eye bag. Stop smoking and save up : Gucci bag.
    Read this ladies: "cigarette smoke can, at best make your eyes bloodshot and watery and at worst cause an allergic reaction of puffy, swollen eyes [11]."
    Stop smoking, on the other hand, can save you enough to buy the Gucci bag you have been dreaming of...[12]

Got some suggestions? Send them to us!

[1] HealthScoutNews - One Gender Gap Goes Up in Smoke
[2] ASH - Big Tobacco and Women
[3] - Smoking
[4] -
Women More Concerned About Losing Weight Than Men
[5] - Quitting Smoking
[6] womens health channel - Women & Smoking
[7] frontlinemed - Can smoking affect hair loss?
[8] ISHRS - Psychological Effects of Hair Loss in Women
[9] - Smoking: How does it affect your skin?
[10] Brain Dynamics - Why Women Hate Mothers-In-Law
[11] - Natural Cures for Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles
[12] MSN Money - 7 radical ways to save money

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


We here at IA often claimed that we are a bunch of (somewhat) educated folks, and we don't really believe in (black) magic or any other superstitious mumbo-jumbo.
We believe most of you, our beloved readers, would think the same.

But read this: A while back Gus Dur, our former president, had a ruwatan, a ritual held to get rid of the country's bad luck. For the ritual, offerings are prepared (we guessed they consisted of food, fruits, flowers etc) and -- as part of the ritual -- would then be thrown to the sea. [1]

Gus Dur is not alone. KRH Darmodipuro, an expert in Javanese calendar who is also the chairman of Radya Pustaka Museum in Solo, did the same for our president SBY [2].

"Ever since he was elected as the president, our nation entering endless miseries. ... These have something to do with the president's wuku. He needs rituals like this," Darmodipuro said.

Does he really? Or are these just our grand excuses to throw big parties?

If you read the article, among the bad lucks to be driven away are landslides and floods.
Hmm. By throwing good food to the sea? We think not.
Why not do this: Stop cutting the trees. Save the forests.

Are we really that superstitious to think that some external magical power can save us from miseries that we actually created ourselves ?
What do we want? Keep cutting trees and yet asking to be spared from the catastrophe resulting from it?
Isn't that like stealing money from your mother's purse, and when you get caught, you hope that your mother will punish you by giving even more money?
Is it just us, or do you - our beloved readers - also think this is rather illogical?

Are we superstitious?

Time for yet another silly experiment:
We decided to put some fresh flowers (jasmine, petals of roses, and others usually used to adorn graves) in a box, punctured some holes on it to let the fragrance out, and put the box in our office's central air conditioner duct inside the ceiling. We hope the fragrance will softly spread to all the rooms.

For those who don't know, for us Indonesians the smell of such flowers is closely related to something mystical, something ritual, and yes, makes us think of graveyards. It gives the 'other-world' ish kind of sense. Something spooky.
(If you are not Indonesians, don't worry if you cannot understand this. To digest this would be just as difficult as Indonesians trying to understand why 'curling' is considered a serious sport...)

We would like to see how the people at our office would react when they smell the fragrance.

What happened then?

At first, we couldn't smell anything. We thought our experiment had failed. But then, one of our secretaries who apparently had a very sensitive nose, noticed the smell.
We overheard her talking to other fellow secretaries. Strangely enough, she said the fragrance was always there since she started working here. That was 2 years ago.
"I always smell it, on and off", she said. We tried hard not to laugh.
But then, read this: she thinks the fact that she is still single at the age of 34, is because the office is 'unlucky'. The intermittent flower fragrance that she smelled is the proof. "This office is jinxed," she said.

Oh dear.
And of course the fact that her over-protective father -- who always drops her off and picks her up and scrutinizes every men who tried to date her -- does not play a role.

Then we overheard one of our office-assistants mentioned the smell. He too, thought there was something 'mystical' going on. Suddenly he found the cause of his chronical backpain problem. "I started to have this backpain since I started working here. This office is the source of the problem. Not me..."

Yeah right. And the fact that he is overweight and spends most of his free-time at home watching tv (instead of exercising) is not the root of the problem.
Wake up, you couch-potato.

The ultimate happened when one of our counterparts came for a meeting at our office. Our counterparts love to have meetings at our office instead of theirs. Maybe because we always serve them nice refreshment. Or because they can have a two-hour meeting and then goof-off all afternoon, while their staff think they are still in a meeting with us.

Mr X (let's call him that) came with his two male-assistants who seemed to always be busy making sure he is well taken care of. What a good life you have when you are important.

After some coffee and cookies, we all went to the meeting room. Everybody sat, and one colleague was about to start the presentation when Mr. X started to sniff something.
"Did Mr. so and so visited this office recently?" he asked. This Mr. so and so is Mr X's colleague, from the same department. Both him and Mr X are the candidates the department sent to eventually chair the project when it starts. A prestigious project for their scale, such position will help boost the career of the chosen one. Not surprisingly, there is some competition going on behind the screen.

Well, yes. Mr so and so visited us a few days ago.
Suddenly Mr. X's face turned pale. He jumped on his feet and left the room. Just like that. His assistants scrambled to clear-up Mr X's stuff and ran after him. Leaving us sitting there with our mouths wide open. What the h...

We called one of Mr X's assistants an hour later, to ask if we did anything wrong. The assistant said no, and he apologized on behalf of Mr X. The meeting was then rescheduled for next week, this time at Mr. X's office.
When we insisted to hear some explanations, the assistant reluctantly told us:
The competition between Mr. X and Mr. so and so to chair the project was fierce, up to a point where Mr. X thinks Mr. so and so is trying to harm him. Not directly, but - yes, you guessed it - through black magic. So Mr X got himself a spiritual consultant, who advised him to be careful when he smells flower fragrance at odd places. That, is a sign of black magic being used. "This is a serious matter," said the assistant, "One day, a mysterious small heap of flowers was found in front of Mr. X's office door. The spiritual consultant was called right away to cleanse the air from evil spirits".

Apparently, the smell of our flowers scared the pants off Mr. X...

This is just bizarre to the max.

So to answer the question: yes, folks, apparently we are superstitious.
We may not believe it, we may not want to admit it, but we dare not to question it, and at times afraid of it.
When it comes to superstition, we often hear people say "If you can't understand it, don't mess with it..."

We decided to stop the experiment. We don't want our silly experiment to interfere with our work. We hope Mr. X will someday return to have a meeting here again.

Now if you excuse us, we need to rearrange our office furniture.
According to our consultant, it is not feng-shui compliant...

[1] - Agar Indonesia Tak Sial, Gus Dur Ruwatan di Yogyakarta
[2] Yosef Ardi - Cleaning Up the President's Bad Aura