“My older brother used to hate Indonesians. I’m sorry but… he’s stereotyping all Indonesians. The thing is, the Indonesians living in Malaysia haven’t been acting really nice. On weekends, they usually gather and tease girls, even the local girls. And a lot of crimes were also done by the Indonesians. So, again, sorry, if that’s the stereotypes of all Indonesians in Malaysia,” said this pretty girl in front of me.
As she was telling me the story, I got mixed feelings. Angry, disappointed, sad, and ashamed at the same time. No wonder I had a friend who once lived in KL was disrespected just because he’s Indonesian.
“When I told my mother I wanted to travel to Jakarta alone, she was worried. She kept asking me whether Jakarta was safe and all. But when I browsed the internet, I didn’t find any reasons not to come here,” she continued her story.
I started to feel relieve.
“And what I actually experience is totally the opposite of the stereotypes of Indonesians. My mom’s concern didn’t come true. I felt safe taking the bus alone from my hotel to here. My hostel staffs are really nice. Even when I walked in narrow streets, I didn’t get teased. Some people were actually smiling at me”, she concluded her story.
“Ah, good to hear that,” I replied.
Her name is Ainu Yusof, a history and English teacher in a rural area in Malaysia, the 5th child in her family with 8 siblings.
Ainu booked my City Square Walking Tour from toursbylocals weeks ago and found no difficulties finding me sitting in a shelter waiting for her that morning.
Lucky for Ainu coming to Jakarta that day because the following Monday, we were having a new president inauguration, so there were some attractions that do not happen on any other day. Like when the army marched while singing in to the Presidential Palace to have a rehearsal for the Monday ceremony.
When I found out she hadn’t had breakfast yet, I suggested her having pempek and siomay in a small restaurant that we passed on Veteran Street. Her response to the pempek was priceless, “This is so good. Thank you for introducing me to this food”. Glad she liked it.
During her late breakfast, we had a very nice conversation about… everything. About politics in each country, the tension between Indonesia – Malaysia, racial & religious issues both countries are facing, education problems, and many more. Yes, the subjects were indeed heavy but we had it light. I felt like talking to a close friend, I could trust her.
When she finished her meal, we continued to walk to Istiqlal and Cathedral. She was amazed how moslems and christians could live side-by-side in harmony in Jakarta. Well, that was the idea of building the mosque at the first place. Eventhough we didn’t go in to the mosque, we managed to go inside the Cathedral. Again, she was surprised because moslems are not allowed to go into churches in Malaysia, and the other way around. So, she took the chance by taking a lot of pictures.
The tour ended in front of Immanuel Church, a church built in 1834 and was once named Willemkerk, but our friendship had just begun.
“Let me know whenever you go to Malaysia,” she said as we bid farewell.
I certainly will, Ainu. Thank you!