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.

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


Blogger Admin said...

Wow, what a fun experiment you guys just had here :-) I'd like to be part of your group now...doing silly but to-the-point experiments like this one for example.

I do believe that our people are becoming more and more superstitous, esp. for the last 10yrs. Yeah it wasn't as profound before I left 12yrs or so ago. Now everytime I visit home, I hear so and so have 'spiritual teacher' and so and so has to follow advices from spiritual teachers, etc.

Even my own sister, listened these suggestions a few times because she was just following trends, and at the end she was afraid not to do it for even worse reasons according to the 'guru.' I can't believe it! Sooner or later...more and more people are going to blame everything to "bad lucks" or "destiny" and to let go any or all responsibilities. Just blame it on the rain so called.'s saddening at the same time that we're not maturing but 'regressing.' Good post btw :-)

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was that, Mr X story, for real ? geez, I never thought our superstitious sense would undermined the logical mind. I mean, even for those of (somewhat) educated folks. But what Gus Dur did is nothing new. I recalled that Megawati did the same thing.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Indo Dreamin' said...

I have heard of black magic a lot in Indo. I my self have seen people preforming ceremonies at out door events to 'divert' rain. But your experiment is fantastic. I cant beeive that people reacted like that. I am going to have some fun with the staff in my office now.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Maya:
Thank you, Maya. Glad you like the post.
Your sister too? Wow. Isn't it strange to see this phenomenon going on among even the educated people?

You'd like to join us? You are more than welcome. But we check again to this site, and you are now ranked 6 of the most active in the past month !. Looks like we should join you instead !

To boywashington:
Mr. X story is as real as you and us. (Not to be confused with the X-Men's Prof X, but he is almost as bald...)
We didn't know Megawati did it too.
Not sure they are setting a good example to the people though..

To Avi:
Yes, give it a try at your office.
It's fun!
Works well in a non-smoking environment.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Now it's the fact that there are more and more people who believe in superstitions in Indonesia. It's obvious that more and more people are falling into this whole thing, just like what you have proven with your experiment. Does it mean it works? are there evidences that these things work? That's normally what happens when something is working (like ads and testimonials), then more people are going to buy into the ideas.

Wow, thanks for informing me again :-) I have no idea that I can be even more ACTIVE :-D

10:23 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Me again. With the existance of blog indonesia, capturing the face of Indonesia one blog at the time..., I'm getting a bit paranoid now ;-) The influence of superstition probably...:-) Are we being watched now? like they blog at a time? :-D should I be glad to be no.6 most active or should I be scared now?

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ha..! :) That crossed our mind too. But no need to be paranoid. Your blog has RSS Feed, and probably even more people are reading (watching?) your blog using RSS reader, without you even know it.
At least this website is open about it. We get more and more visitors referred from this website. That's good, right?

The 6th most active bloggers out of more than 500? You SHOULD be proud.
It's not easy to be a dedicated blogger. Look at us. We can only manage once a week.. How lame is that?

3:35 AM  
Blogger Jakartass said...

Blogging is not about quantity, it's about quality. And your once-a-week postings are eagerly awaited.

Blogging is also about plagiarism too, so thanks for the theme for my post this evening.

I hope you don't mind. Or get into trouble!

And you've got me thinking about a few more articles on Fatalism and Mysticism, a theme I started in January, because I've got some tales of expats here who've been 'cursed', or so they thought.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did you say:
I've got some tales of expats here who've been 'cursed', or so they thought.

What? Expats too? You have got to be kidding!
This is just too good to miss.

Do write about it, PLEASE !

12:10 AM  
Blogger javaricho said...

I think it is amazing how many people are hooked up on these superstitions. I was once surprised by a colleague's wife and prayer group who were in his office. They were praying to get rid of the empty "parcels" someone was sending us.

One other time two of our cleanng staff got "posessed". Now it had nothing to do with the bizarre love triangle with the othe cleaning boy they tried to share in the pantry. Oh no. After many board meetings, occult consulations and soul searching the answer was found.... There was a ghost of an old lady on the site, she put a"blocking" on the area and anyone who entered into it who had an empty heart or and wait for it, WAS LAZY fell victim.

At that point I became a believer.

I am not sure about the expats who become possessed. I think rather they loose posession of their faculties...

6:09 AM  
Blogger oigal said...

Every time I think my blogging is doing ok, I come across a new one that shows me how far I have to go.

This is an excellent, outstanding blog.

Expats cursed? oh yea its true..I am out in the jungle a bit in an area well known for its "magic" and I can confirm one guy for sure..(for sure he believed it not for sure its real)

10:16 AM  
Blogger Marek Bialoglowy said...

I sprayed jasmine fragrance at the front door near the place where satpam and other staff usualy sleep during the night. Hehe worked well, as they didn't sleep that night, kept all lights on and play same games with other folks all night.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Javaricho and Marek,
Good to know that at least there is one benefit out of this superstition: to wake up all those lazy bums...

Oigal, thank you for the compliment.

Can't wait to read all these stories about expats getting cursed, posessed, and all.
What a riot!

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, very funny. I like the story very much.

6:42 PM  

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