Each morning for the last couple of years already, I go for a jog at 6 am sharp. I take the same circuit around Menteng each time. Maybe not a very smart thing to do because this morning I had a really scary encounter. While jogging last week, I had just started (I jog about 9 km every morning at a for me comfortable pace, about 5.5 km per hour) I saw I was being followed by another jogger who came closer and closer. This had never happened before, since I started jogging. I guess most Indonesian and expats residing in this area have other, more important things to do at 6 am, most will be just starting their on their morning shag still being groggy from too much sex and drugs and rock and roll last night. Anyway this guy had other things on his mind, he was definitely on a mission. I could already see it was not an expat but a local guy (of course not a girl that only happens in movies or with other expats). I wasn’t really happy, for all I knew he could be a crazy mujaheddin or terrorist planning to blow me up. I could already see the headlines in t he Jakarta Post. “Dutch expat blown to smithereens in Menteng on morning stroll” Or “Dutch guy bombed in Menteng while trying to outrun terrorist”. Needless to say I got a bit scared of this guy. I started to run faster, luckily I’m still in pretty good shape in my old age. It didn’t help no matter how fast I ran he just kept coming closer. I decreased my pace and within minutes he had overtaken me. Now I thought I’m finished, the bomb can go off any minute or a knife will land in my kidneys. But none of this happened. I saw you leaving your house the guy said. You forgot to lock the door and you left the kea in the door. So I decided to lock your door and come after you to give you back your kea. Here it is. He extended his hand to give me my kea. All this happened while we were still jogging at quite a brisk pace. This guy had been running approximately 3 km behind me just to give me back my kea. And he wasn’t even out of breath. Indonesia never ceases to amaze me. He still was running beside me and produced a packet of djarum sigarettes (no filter) “Mau rokok pak???”he asked. What the heck I thought. So a few seconds later we were jogging and puffing away on a cigar sized kretek sigaret. What a healthy combination. In the meantime we were engaged in a nice conversation. He had decided and asked me if it was ok if he jogged the whole circuit with me. I told him it was ok. Turned out he lives in Menteng with his parents and sister whom he wanted to introduce to me as soon as we were finished jogging. I told him better meet her at a later time because after jogging I always look like a deceased frog and smell like an aboriginal in heat. I got his address and telephone number so we can keep in touch.

Visiting Indonesians in their home is probably the worst torture ever invented by mankind. Even the Chinese could never conjure up such tortures. The scene is normally set around a table where everybody is seated in a small chair. Food and cookies are served constantly to the victim until he is so full he is about to burst. Then when he is about to say he is full (kenyang) the hosts decide it is time for makan siang or makan malam.(depending on the time) Big trays of food appear on mentioned table and the victim is requested to finish it all, if he doesn’t or tells he can’t have more, he will be impolite and he knows he will hurt the family so he must continue to eat. Most of the food items are full of chilly and other spicy items even a dragon would have trouble eating it. But the victim knows he will have to so he continues eating with his more and more bloated stomach while tears are running down his cheeks and because his tongue feels like it has been set on fire by an evil and lunatic pyromaniac he is forced to swill litres of water to keep the pain a bit at bay, further adding to the distress of his already blown to hot air balloon proportions of his stomach. During this ordeal the happy family will keep asking him questions and he will have to keep talking and smiling until his face feels like it is elastic and his tongue is about to fall out of his mouth. Even though the victim feels like he can die any moment he knows he will have to keep a happy and laughing face. Laughing is very important because the family will scrutinize and observe his face for the smallest signs of distress. As soon as they think the bule is not happy they will ask if he needs more food or drinks and if he doesn’t respond fast enough with a no, or there is enough, more food will be brought in and added to the already huge pile of full dishes he still has to finish.

When finally the makan and interrogation torture is over (if the victim is still alive by that time). Ibu will always decide and announce dinner time is over. If t he victim is lucky she will not be too cruel and will not let him eat until the food come out of his ears. She will then clean the dishes and the victim will be asked by the bapak to join him at the veranda. Chairs are already put in place and the victim, feeling like his stomach is ready to burst any moment will follow the bapak. Once seated the bapak gets a packet of Djarum (without filter the strongest ones) from his shirt pocket and asks the victim to smoke one with him. Even though the last thing the victim needs is a very strong clove sigaret he cannot say no because that again would insult the host.
One sigaret will not be enough though. In these kind of situations it is fashion to keep smoking all the time, lighting the next sigaret with the one just finished until the pack is finished. Then the bapak will produce some money from his pocket and shout to his youngest son (or daughter) to come. He will give him or her the money to get a new pack, thus being assured of a constant supply of sigarettes. When finally the victim is released and dragging his battered and weary corpse home he will collapse on his bed and it his body will need months to recuperate and recover. Still he knows he is lucky because he has survived the worst torture known to man.