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First of all, people will think you’re joking when you tell them you’re moving to Jakarta. They might even remove their iPhone earbuds and ask if they heard right. They’ll laugh over their mocha Frappuccinos and update their status and then remember they were having a conversation with you, at which point they will ask if you’re serious.

At which point you’ll wonder why you ever walked into Starbucks in the first place.

But perhaps this reaction isn’t unexpected: Jakarta, after all, has a funny name. I’ve found the effect of it can be heightened significantly by pronouncing it in a variety of accents. Try German-sounding vowels, try a Spanish J, try an Indian lilt and headshake. If you receive blank stares instead of laughter, don’t worry, they already think you’re crazy for moving to a place they’ve never seen mentioned on their twitter feed.

The next thing you should know is that, more than likely, you’ll have to explain that Jakarta is in Indonesia, that it’s a ginormous capital, that it’s the center of—but wait, you’ll have to first describe where Indonesia lies on the map.

Jakarta is, hands down, the hugest city no one has ever heard of. Its population is roughly equal to all the US states whose combined populations equal 23 million. And all these denizens are squeezed into an area the size of Indonesia’s capital. Tell them this. Some will get it. The ones that do, keep talking to them.

You may be tempted to advise watching The Amazing Race, maybe, to keep a keen eye for footage away from awkward drama, for more than the challenges involving enormously outsized puzzles with human participants, for something besides the sweaty, tear-streaked faces crammed inside a cab—that’s right, they might something about Indonesia at the commercial break.

Another thing you’ll probably want to do is sign up for frequent flyer miles. Fortunately for you, there are only 283 such programs to choose from. If that sounds intimidating, rest assured that all offer the same perks and privileges and rewards and differ only in the color on their plastic and the header of their billing statements. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure they all use the same call center, too. “Didn’t I just talk to you?” you’ll find yourself asking the agent, “Over on Lucky Go-Go Dragon Traveler Surplus Imperial Miles Plus line?”

“Yes,” she’ll say, “I remember you. You’re going to that place with a funny name.”

You’ll discover that a flight across the Pacific will bag you miles equivalent to flying LA to NY a certain number of times. If you’re an accountant, you might actually calculate this. Additionally, after you make a dozen trans-Pacific trips, you’ll likely qualify for a free Sky Mall magazine and clearance to turn on your electronic device five minute prior to landing. You may upgrade to a seat with a little air-hole to blow obnoxiously loud and stale air in your face. You may even be allowed to glance inside the airline’s lounge once every fifteenth trip.

While you’re confirming your frequent mileage card, you’re going to want to get a credit card, too. Don’t throw away your chance to earn bonus miles if you use this card to purchase something the value of an RV, within the next 7 days, of course. Additional miles may be had if you purchase a plane or two from the airline’s fleet, or you decide to pay down the national debt a significant chunk. But all this is offered only when applying for a card with an astronomical credit limit—one available only to customers whose income should ensure they would never really need credit in the first place.

“How many cards can I put you down for?” she’ll ask.

“Just three please,” you’ll hear yourself say.

After all, you’ve always wanted to glimpse that lounge.

2 thoughts on “Pointers

  1. I first visited and lived in Jakarta back in 1980. Have been a frequent visitor since, on business and holiday – and obviously, also speak the lingo. Enjoy your stay – the Indonesians are a lovely people.


    1. Thanks, I hope we enjoy it as much as you–and that we also pick up a little of the lingo too. We’ve been told that it’s hot, that the traffic is nightmare, but that the people are amazing and make it all worth it. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing it for ourselves.


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