Friday, 20 February 2009

Reasons to love or hate

There are many reasons to love or hate living in Jakarta.

First the love - here is a direct copy from a friends blog.

Explanation first - A bajai is a 3 wheeled taxi (like a Thai Tut tut) -high in pollution and rarely used by the expat community (unless really desperate and going a very short distance). Traffic in this area is very slow, usually bumper to bumper and never above 30km/hr.

"So after watching a really, really crappy band we decide to move on. We then had a brain wave to sort out who paid, ..............A competition!!!!!!!

Yes my competitive friend wanted to race Bajai's around the Kemang circuit. Yes that crazy expat thing. Well I had never done it, so, with a belly full of booze, it was "OK your on" sport. Trusting driver organised the suitable racing vehicles, and after a quick lesson on how to drive, change gears, stop and start we were off. I lagged behind mainly due to some "up the wrong side of the road" antics from the competition. But I had my revenge as I roared through the Macca's carpark, dodging the parking attendants and the drive through traffic, to snatch back the lead.I returned to EP to a huge cheer from all and sundry to claim the victor's spoils.

EP's 2009 Bajai Champion.

The competition was stunned on his arrival to see me being hailed the Champion.

And all this for 7 bucks Aussie."

This really sums up the freedom that we as expats have in Jakarta. I just wish I had been there (but our kids don't go to the same school and it was a school function........well it started as a school function).

Now the Hate / dislike.

Our electricity bills have been astronomical for the last 8 months ($800 a month). It was around $500, but in May it jumped up and it didn't matter if we were away for 2 weeks of the month, the bill was always that high. But that's not the complaint.

On arriving home from Canada, our bill for Dec was only $400. That is a bit more like it. The difference - the water pressure pump above our house had been turned off for the entire time (we discovered a week after returning home and having to have showers downstairs to get SOME pressure - not the complaint either).

Then we discovered it had been turned off because it runs 24/7 even though it is supposed to only turn on when someone turns on a tap. So we innocently asked the landlord to get his man to look at it. After hearing nothing I put a note up for our housekeeper to organise the guy to be here this morning to look at it with me (I leave for work before the housekeeper starts - communication via whiteboard is great). My very helpful nanny, on reading the note, informed me that the man had been the day before and the pump runs 24/7 because it is also connected to the security house.

Now - before you say - logical - let me explain. There are 3 houses in our complex. The security is for all 3, we pay extra for this and it is a communal cost, plus this is the first I was hearing about it.

She very knowingly nodded her head - it runs 24 hours a day because there is a FAMILY that live above the security post (in a 3m x 3m room) and they need water for like - WASHING!!! (please pronounce all capital letter words with extra emphasis, like I was an IDIOT).

Oh, so the family of 3 and one security guard use water 24/7 but our family of 5 and 4 staff don't use water all the time (even with 5 bathrooms and a pool)????? Now I understand, thanks, I feel better now.

Well, I text the landlord (that's what we do here, phone calls create language barriers, texting in english means you can understand accents), he then texts back that the pump is only 1.5% of the power bill, fridges run X watts, ac run Y watts, he went with his statistics.

Only, I am much more pathetic in the maths department than he gives me credit. We are meeting on Tuesday to go through it - I will have a spreadsheet on what percentage the water pump uses. We turn off lights (and have energy efficient lights), AC, everything when we are not using them.

Now, what is my complaint you ask- it's that the landlord didn't say - hey, I just got sprung hooking up one of my costs to my tenants, I will replace the pump because it is broken and runs 24/7 before anything else is mentioned about my cost being zero (but still charging us for it). No, he wants to have a dispute that it isn't a big cost (since he's not paying, that's a great way to be I guess).

That pump should have been replaced before my text was even responded to. That's what bugs me - there are no rules here, it's just - do whatever you can get away with (see story of bajai above).

This also means you have to be on your toes ALL the time, which can be wear you out (and sometimes makes you paranoid). So, I love the freedom here, I hate the freedom other people, that's not it. I love the freedom I have, I love that the lessons I learn are not too expensive and that they will help me for further potential rip offs later on.

No, I wouldn't replace any of it for a quite suburban existence in Aus. At least here I know I am alive. I'm not tired from working too hard and having very little life.

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