“Traktir dong!”/ “Blanja eh!” + The age old concept we should move on from + Horrific encounter with old “friends”
Lol okay I feel like my next two months of blog posts will still more or less contain references to the first half of my year in Indonesia so keep calm while I get it out of my system.
So I know I always gush about it and how amazing it is to be there but tonight, I do have something bad to say about an occurrence that happened during my last week while I was in Jakarta. I don’t have a lot of negative things to say about the country because I always enjoy my time there so much but what I do not enjoy is the culture of “traktiran”. “Traktiran” is the concept of “treating” or “belanja” (as Bruneians say it) which I admit is also common in Brunei but mostly as a joke/bad habit among the ghetto classes. A ghetto example would be: Someone innocently posts a picture of their meal on instagram someone else will go “eh belanja eh! (oi, treat me!)”. Needless to say my circle of friends steer way clear away from people of this ilk.
I hate how it puts people in awkward situations and I’m appalled by how self-degrading it is as well. Not only are you making yourself look poor, you’re also making me look poor if I tell you I’m not in the position to pay for someone else other than myself.
Anyway, everyone knows that while on vacation, the worst time to ask someone to take out extra money is at the end when they’re about to go back because by then they’ve probably burnt off most of their budget and have barely enough for the trip home. So considering that I was there for six months since January and the government paid us the last of our allowances in March and also heavily considering my terrible spendthrift tendencies, it’s safe to conclude that I was hanging on to the skin of my teeth by the time the last month rolled around and if it weren’t for my boyfriend coming to save me, I’m afraid I would have had to resort to humiliating measures (i.e. asking my parents for a transfer).
So during the last two weeks, I texted to an old colleague of mine (let’s call him A) from my internship asking if he wanted to catch up over lunch or dinner and maybe a karaoke session. We excitedly discussed our plans and decided to meet at a certain day the following week. He asked me if I wanted to invite any of our other colleagues and I told him okay but only a selected few. All of a sudden, I get texts from the others in the group chat that A had formed asking if I’m going to be paying for the karaoke session. This obviously puts me in an awkward situation because I know I’m dry as fuck and any money that is coming out is going to be my boyfriend’s. I discuss it with my boyfriend and he told me that he’d pay for the hour of karaoke.
I tell that to the group and shockingly, one of my former colleagues (let’s call him B) tells me that that isn’t enough and tries to wheedle me into paying for another hour. “Make it two hours!” like it’s some kind of fucking business deal. Keep in mind that I was only an intern to them and that these colleagues actually have full-time jobs! I explain my situation to them as a last resort to which B replies, “Aww we’re so excited! But we’re just so broke. We didn’t get bonuses this year! And our salaries haven’t gone up! So just pay for us yeah?”. I’m NOT even fucking kidding. I wish I was! I was just so disgusted and I felt so used. He didn’t mention anything about wanting to see me or anything, just that he wanted me to pay for two hours. At this point, I was just ready to cancel everything.
To make things worst another colleague “jokingly” chimed in, “Dinner + 2 hours of karaoke yeah?”. Umm excuse me, no one told me this was a set package deal? How shitty it is that just to attend a “simple” meet-up I would have to prepare such a large amount of money to accommodate my group of “acquaintances”. It was no longer a point of me having to ask my boyfriend for money but more of a negotiation of principle here. It’s not okay to use people like that and I didn’t want to condone it. My colleague A was picking up on my vibes and assured me in a private text that they would indeed be pitching in with their own money but I knew B personally and I knew that he wasn’t kidding.
The next day I was on Path (an important social media platform that’s widely used throughout Indonesia) and I saw a comment which freezed my blood and made me absolutely furious. One of the colleagues that I was supposed to meet up with had posted a meme about money (nothing related to me) and colleague B had commented something along the lines of, “Hey we could totally use that money to actually pay for the other hour of karaoke instead of just one hour amiriiight? Lollllll”. I don’t remember his exact words because it was in Indonesian and I don’t think I’m doing it justice with my choppy translation but I remember showing it to my boyfriend and asking him if colleague B was taking a diss at me. He was appalled and told me that it certainly was and that I really should reconsider treating such a bastard. I mean, if I had been tagged in it then in a way it wouldn’t have been so bad. But because it was buried in the comment section of something that B thought I wouldn’t understand simply because it was in Indonesian just made it worst because it was a backhanded insult to me.
It’s weird because I knew they joked about these things and asked other people to “traktir” a lot but I had no idea that they’d be so intent and pushy with it even after I explained my situation. It’s even funnier because these were fully grown adults with salaries asking me, a student, to pay for them when I’ve never encountered a such thing with any of my local classmates or other student friends while I was studying in Bandung.
So I stewed and I stewed over the next couple of days and I eventually told the group that I wouldn’t be free to attend the meet-up after all because of an important family dinner with my boyfriend’s father. And then instead I spent the entire day happily spending time in my favourite mall Grand Indonesia with my boyfriend and enjoying a beautiful lunch and exquisite hi-tea without having to worry about my money running out on paying for someone else who was just going to use me. The end.