A Faux Pas Or A Way Of Life? - 14 Classic Indonesian Habits

As an Indonesian person myself, at times I find myself doing things I cannot control. Things that make onlookers give me those judgey eyes, the look that says 'seriously? You're in public'. 

These things I'm talking about are habits, which every human on Earth has, but it seems we as a country all adhere to some specific habits, nationwide. To an extent they have become cultural-norms for us. 

Sure, everyone around the world may have similar habits, but we can classify these the 14 classic habits Indonesians do!

Don't deny who you are!


1) Socks and Sandals

Despite the fact that the rest of the world has dubbed this the biggest fashion faux-pas ever, this little fashion phenomenon is pretty widespread around the country. Whilst we strive for that perfect blend of 'warmth' and 'kampung-komfort', the rest of the world are laughing at our feet.

2) Open-mouth Sneezing

No tissue, no hand-covering, no nothing. Just get that sneeze OUT! This is perhaps best exemplified by the Indonesian onomatopoeia for the sound of sneezing : "HACHIIING!!"

It happens all the time, if you're not doing it, the guy behind you is! We  force that spit out our mouth and into the surrounding air - mixing our slobber with the haze of transboundary air pollution headed to Singapore.

3) Being Anti-Social in Social Situations

This may not be reserved just for Indonesians but boy we are bad. The number of people gathering to be socially anti-social deserves anthropological and psychological studies to be honest... oh well, Starbucks and other 'nongkrong' areas are still getting cash in the till anyway!

4) Abbreviating Everything

This is deeply rooted in the history of the country, I think it really started with Monas, or "Monumen Nasional" and progressively got worse with the likes of CITOS (Cilandak Town Square) and others. Do we really have to shorten or abbreviate everything in our language? I can't decide if we're being lazy, or trying to be impromptu chemists. 

5) Jam Karet (Rubber Time)

Another bad habit is our time keeping (or lack there of). Late for dates, late for meetings, late for our own weddings, delayed projects, stretched deadlines, extended payments - time has no meaning in the Indonesian archipelago. 

Time for us just stretches and stretches....

6) Littering

Probably one of the biggest problems with the country, waste (mis)management comes from our inability to just walk a few extra metres to stick that wrapper in the bin. "But, this clean pavement is right here and that bin is like, over there!" 

Yup... just that easy.

7) Pointless Selfies

A terrible habit we Indonesians do is take really, really pointless selfies. To add insult to injury, most of the selfies have to have unrelated captions in an attempt to justify your need to "eksis, dong" * 

E.G. I'm in traffic! *click-click* , but proof of traffic is not given, its hidden by the close up of your face.

*The term "eksis" refers to people proving their 'existence' by always being seen and being present in social situations, whether in real life or online.

8) Ignoring Public Rules

Whether its because we're just natural 'rebels' or we're simply that unaware of our surroundings, Indonesians are always seen doing things they're not meant to do, exactly where they're not meant to do them. 

9) Being Obviously Pervy

This, I must say, mainly applies to the men. It's true, Indonesians generally have a healthy sex drive but sometimes our actions and facial expressions can express just a little bit too much...

Whether it's literally perving with a bit of "ngintip" (taking a peak):

Or just making "the eyes" at passing beautiful woman

10) Peppering Floors with Cigarette Butts

This is something that really brings the actual beauty of our country right down - not only are we incessant smokers but we also throw these little butt ends everywhere so that everyone knows of our bad daily habits.

11) Public Nose Picking

This is a well-known fact by all. We know that diggin' deep up in those nostrils is just something we do and we really don't care who sees. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are.

Perhaps you're just some kid on the street...

An unaware patron in a "Warnet" (Internet café)

Or maybe even a government official during a parliamentary hearing

12) Queue Jumping

When queuing up, it's like the words "orderly" and "considerate" have lost meaning to us, instead we replace them with "you snooze you lose" and "me first, b***h!" 

I mean even in this picture below, no barriers, no lines and still, disciplined patrons (not Indonesia):

...and here's us...

...and us 'queuing' for gas... yikes.

13) Napping Everywhere and Anywhere

It seems that Indonesians have the battery life of an iPhone 4 - we can't go a full day without recharging halfway through. It's like the midday 'bobo', or nap, is the powerbank of the Indonesian people... And just like using a powerbank, we are able to 'recharge' anywhere we want.

In a coconut tree for example

On a broken bench (with our hands down our pants)

Even on some pipes hanging over the sewer

14) Never Taking the Blame

Last, but certainly not least, is the habit of us Indonesians finding it near impossible to take the blame for something we clearly did. This happens at all levels, from individuals right up to the Government - their comeback usually being "IT WAS MALAYSIA!".

I think we should change our national anthem to Shaggy's hit song "Wasn't Me".

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