Living and working in Jakarta Indonesia is not as big a difference to North America as one might think. In general, offices move at a slow pace in a fast-paced environment. Many meetings are about topics that don’t need to be a meeting and so on.
Much the same waste of time as they are in anywhere else in the world. Keep in mind I am talking pre-Covid at the moment. The pace of life in Jakarta is as fast as traffic is slow. However, the big difference is the people. The staff is so much more respectful and much more polite than what I am used to. Sure, there is general gossip and backstabbing…
It is a place of business and a place of advancement as much as anywhere. Interestingly enough, the staff, in my opinion, work harder and stay at the office much longer than their North American counterparts. I wondered about this for a long time until I got to know our staff. Asking co-workers where they lived was a simple question for me. When I got similar answers, I began to piece things together. This may seem simple to any person in Indonesia, but it was new to me.
When most people said, “oh, I live just behind here and just over there.” It slowly made sense. A small rental unit called a Kos, is a cheap rental for the most part. $150 CAN will get you a place to stay with air conditioning, a washroom and maybe a small kitchenette. Now things began to make sense. It was far more beneficial and fun to hang out with friends at work and go out to eat than for us North Americans.
We value our family time and love to punch out so to speak and go home. Many of the people I worked with were from outside the city. Some as far as an hour and a half away. The distance in Jakarta is not covered nearly as fast as it is on many highways. Here a 5 km route from home may take you an hour.
Public transport will not move any faster in the congestion. Now I was able to figure out why the malls were a place of gathering and occasional shopping and not the opposite. People, family and friends go to the mall to chill and have a good time. Then they go home to sleep in the small rental and repeat the process. Many people get around on scooters and not cars. Cars are a luxury, parking and space are at a minimum. It is advantageous to have a scooter. A deeper dive into the way people act and behave revealed so much to me.
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