Dear Newsbreak family,
Just an email to let you know I’m alive in Jakarta and missing you all.
The flight here was super long and my ear infection acted up again, but things went smoothly when we arrived at the Soekarno Hatta airport. JG’s airport fixer, W., got me through Immigrations by grouping me with the invalids and the elderly (the dudes in wheelchairs who need someone else to have their passport approved), and I’m pretty sure by bribing the Immigrations official. I caught the sleight of hand when he slipped something from his pocket when he handed over my Arrival Card.
Then JG’s driver Andy met us and drove me to JG’s office at PS. The drive there took 3 hours. Andy, who speaks little English, could only manage to say repeatedly, “In Jakarta, is always traffic.” I super duper agree.
MJ showed me around the office a bit and introduced me to my immediate bosses, DE and JP. Fresh from a 5-hour flight and 3-hour drive, I looked like a zombie, so I think I made a great first impression.
I was so tired already by the time the company put me up at the Manhattan Hotel, a bit far from the office, but had enough energy to go out with MJ and her husband. They introduced me to their little circle of Pinoy friends and we hung out at Pizza E Birra, with a really awesome acoustic band playing. The group is named Mike’s and they played at J’s wedding. The drummer is half-Pinoy and went to UA&P with T. They also formed a gym group, and I was invited to join, which is something to look forward to. We get a discount at Fitness First.
My impression of Jakarta is that it’s like Manila in many ways. Magulo, you’ll smell like pollution if you walk along major thoroughfares (which I had to do to get a SIM card at the mall near my hotel) and the taxi drivers don’t give change unless you specifically ask.
The language barrier is a challenge too. Since I look Indonesian (F., the receptionist said so), everyone assumes I speak Bahasa, so they speak Bahasa. I just get by with sign language and a little kodigo of phrases. 🙂 The money was kind of hard to figure out too, at first, because the amounts scared me. Buying a travel book from Gramedia, which looks so much like National Bookstore!!, cost me 300,000 rupiah. I’m not always sure if I’m overspending.
PS looks promising. It has a tiangge at the bottom (many many exciting, cheap clothes) and lots of restaurants and a department store upstairs. I know where my paychecks will go. Hehe. 😉
My first meal before work was at the DK. Corny no? Next time I will try the local CFC, which seems like the Indonesian version of KFC. Saka na mag-explore ng turo-turo at authentic Indonesian food when I’m secure na about my finances and my Bahasa. Hehe.
As for my first day at JG, it went pretty well. I worked closely with JP, who scares me because he looks so serious. But he guided me naman patiently. All I had to do today was make Wires stories and local reports fit into predetermined slots on the newspaper page, come up with fun headlines, and make sure the copy was clean. I also had to edit captions and learn the little keyboard shortcuts they have to make bylines, taglines and stuff.
The staff in the workstation where I work in were friendly and helpful. Jay, I think, will be happy to note JG has many cute Caucasians. My shift ended at 9 (early, this time, because J. said it’s my first day) and J. asked me to study the final copy. But all in all, he said I did well, which made me happy.
Soon, I have to find a kost near PS so I can get settled and start living on my own na, without room service. 😛
I’d love to explore the city more and just dive into the culture. Nakakatakot pero exciting. A lot of people describe living in Jakarta as a love-hate relationship. I like it so far, and I have no choice but to love it and make it as much of a second home as I can.
That’s all I can kwento for now. Miss you all! 🙂