Being Indonesian

I just checked my Quora account, which is my favorite social media currently, and I found an interesting question about Indonesia (my homeland) that relates to national issues these days. The question was “why Chinese Indonesians are so nationalistic?”  and a Chinese Indonesian answered “because I was born in Indonesia, raise in Indonesia, speak Indonesia, and I cannot speak Mandarin. I never go to China. I’ve paid the tax in Indonesia. I simply love being Indonesian”. For me, it’s a bit touched. Unlike Indonesia, race is compulsory in Singaporeans identity card.  See this ID card below 😀



I was surpraised that race is essential thing in Singapore. In Indonesia, we proudly say that we are Indonesian, not chinese or melayu. Another answer from a P.hd student said that “I’m Indonesian with chinese blood and I take doctoral degree in Chemistry at UNSW because I wanna do somthing cool for Indonesia industry, albeit without certainty”. See? They love Indonesia.

In restrospect, my grandfather had many Chinese friends in Riau (Dumai), and the majority of them were nice and kind. They would say which the restaurants that provided halal foods or didn’t. So, that’s the reason I quite often eat in chinese restaurants while in Pekanbaru (of course for muslim).

As getting inspiration from Chinese Indonesia above, I intended to write the interesting (negative and positive) facts about Indonesia based on my observation.  And here I come!

What I wanna see as improvements for Indonesia (I hope that I could get involved in it)

  1. Indonesia’s bureaucrat

I’m tired of explaining this continuous problem. Bureaucratic reform in Indonesia has remained an unresolved debate since long time ago. My sister until now does not receive her identity card due to political issue or corruption. I once required a long time to obtain my birth certificate in English with back and forth to the civil service. In other words, the bureaucracy finds difficulties in following the rhythm of the government, which has purpose to be high and works fast.

Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform  Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi remarks the presence of hundreds of thousands of incompetent, crooked, unaccountable civil servants has slowed the performance of the entire bureaucracy, which is why he has come up with a roadmap for bureaucratic streamlining.


Yap, human resources are the key.

       2. Kepo or having extreme curiousity

Kepo means you are curious at something overly. I don’t know precisely why most Indonesian like asking or seeking other people’s life, particularly elderly people. The spreading infotainment on television is the sign to satisfy Indonesians’ curiosity. We are good at exaggerating everything.

  1. Not pedestrian friendly

As pedestrian, I hate to tell that. Indonesia has  lack of pavements and unfortunately those are not used as they shoud be. It’s not difficult to discover street vendors in the pavements, leading to dirty and not eye-catching city streets. Then the provided sidewalks have been used by motorcycle drivers, which have neglected  the safety of pedestrians. Few days ago, I was shouted by a motorcycle driver because walking slowly in the sidewaks of urban area in Padang, oh please..

In contrast, Indonesian also has some stuff to be bragged.

  1. We have a big big territory.

Look at this picture.



Indonesia map overlapped above 48 contiguous U.S  States. The distance between    Aceh and Papua is futher apart than the distance between Oregon and New Jersey.

And  look at this one more.



Can you imagine it? The size of Indonesia is pretty similar to 9 Europe countries.

2. Insane traditional cuisine

It has hundreds of local foods, most of them are spicy and amazing! I once read Naked Traveler book from Trinity (author) and she said that has an American friend who was willing to go  back to Indonesia just for Rendang (Minangnese traditional food). When he was in  JFK airport, unfortunately the security guard suspected him to bring drugs or something dangerous because of it’s smell, and the security guard ordered him to get rid of that Rendang. He defended and said that “I will eat my Rendang here, if you don’t believe me. This is just food!” .  Well, he indeed devoured it while he was watched by others, lol.

3. Gorgeous cultural diversity

I will not give a detailed narration about Indonesia culture, you might be bored. FYI, Indonesia contains a vast archipelago compromising more than 17,000 island and the population around  255 million people, resulting hundreds of unique cultures.

See this video from Ponti Ramanta as a proof that my homeland is awesome.

Wait, I almost forget to tell Indonesia’s cool motto. We have around 1.340 different cultures with 6 official religions,

but we proudly say “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”, which means Unity in Diversity.

-In Initia Iqbal


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