Monday, June 12, 2006

Time marches on, albeit very slowly

Why do jewelry stores in Indonesia sell watches? (and why do Indonesians wear them?) Why do Indonesian cell phones, computers, cars or microwave ovens have clocks built-in? Do the guys selling fake Rolex watches outside Soekarno-Hatta airport ever find a buyer?

"Indonesian time" is quite possibly the most prominent national characteristic that distinguishes this country from others. Business meetings that should normally take an hour end up taking double that time, with the first 30 minutes spent waiting for attendees to wander in, and the last 30 minutes spent prolonging the meeting because nobody wants to be on time for their next meeting. With Jakarta traffic being as mind-numbing as it is, it's understandably nigh impossible to plan on arriving at your next destination at the appointed time, but for people who are already at the office safe from further traffic delays, it still begs belief that people can't journey 20 meters down the hallway in time for a meeting without being 30 minutes late.

One thing is for sure, if patience was not one of your strengths before coming to Indonesia, it certainly will be by the time you return home. "Indonesian time" is certainly a character building experience.

Then again, I could always rig up a 1000 watt public address system through the office, and employ someone who would be responsible for performing a "call to meeting" 30 minutes before scheduled meetings. Of course, if the meeting room TV was always on, with some fresh roti and gado gado on the conference table, the meeting room would be packed all day.


Blogger spew-it-all said...

I was wondering if this Indonesians' 'culturally specific habit' would change if they are going abroad. But after living in Sydney more than 3 years, and is accustomed to a routinized daily experiences and tight schedule, i feel bizare to criticise thing (jam karet) to which i had been familiar.

10:49 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home