I have less than a month left in Wonosari and in Indonesia. As such, I’m going to try and post as frequently as possible. Lists, impressions, pictures, lots of stuff. I may fail at this. Hopefully not!
How do you measure a year? The characters of Rent give various methods including daylights, sunsets, midnights, and cups of coffee. This past year for me, however, has been measured in trips to Indomaret.
Take this trip, for example:
Sheepishly I approach the counter and slide the box across the shiny gleaming steel to the cashier. It feels weird. The cashier’s blue eye shadow, which does such a nice job of accenting the blazing blue uniform, pierces my soul. Here I am in Indomaret, this convenience-store-plus-more, buying this. The cashier nonchalantly rings it up. I squirm a little and blush.
“Ini ‘M,’ ya?” she says.
“dghjm,” I mumble back, unintelligible garble that is neither Bahasa nor English. Mercifully, she understands that I meant “Yes, M, that is correct that is the size I wanted I am M yes.”
And then, unexpectedly, she swerves from the usual cashier-customer script I’ve become so accustomed to. She asks, “Panas atau dingin.”
I tilt my head and furrow my brow.
I have visited Indomaret well over a hundred times—sometimes as often as thrice per day—but this question is new. “Hot or cold?” I am not sure what to make of it.
She whips out a black plastic take-out container and slaps it down on the counter. Inside is a rather large portion of fried chicken and rice.
“Panas atau dingin,” she repeats.
I sputter out dingin, she gingerly places the meal into my plastic bag, and I walk out into the cool night air with a free chicken dinner.
Where else can you go to buy underwear (because you haven’t done laundry in far too long and really really need clean clothes for school tomorrow) and walk out with a free chicken and rice dinner. Only Indomaret.
Like the secret menu at Starbucks, deals like “buy some underwear, get some chicken” are never advertised. So every purchase is like playing the lottery. Except instead of winning money you win random things you never knew you wanted. Buy some ice cream, get some sprinkles; buy some paper towels, get some more paper towels. FREE.
This convenience-store-plus-more is a beautiful magical AIR CONDITIONED haven. I began frequenting Indomaret to buy groceries and toiletries: eggs, juice, bread, soap, toothpaste. As time has gone on, however, I have found myself stopping by more and more often.
Call it silly, call it absurd, call it an unnecessary luxury that feeds consumerism, but I have fallen in love with Indomaret.
Friendly smiles and fluorescent lights; sugary drinks and salty snacks. The stock changes but the staff never does. I have filled my life with familiar faces from these convenience stores. There are four that I frequent. Each has its own personality. The one with the ATM is nice because it has an ATM, but it’s a bit far. The one closest to me is good, but it’s smaller and also a knock-off Indomaret? The one up the hill has a bakery and a soft serve ice cream machine that can give you a vanilla/corn swirl! Once the one in front of the bus station had Froot Loops and you bet I impulse bought that box.
I have also impulse bought: ice cream, a broom, the Minions movie.
I have tried to buy but could not find: nail clippers and honey. The first they don’t sell. The second was merely hiding.
It’s strange how much my buying habits have changed since being here. There are no grocery stores in Wonosari, so I do all of my shopping at convenience stores like Indomaret. There is a traditional market in town, but it’s a bit far and it smells strange and I’m a little frightened of the produce, which often features cockroaches and enormous spiders. So I stick with Indomaret.
And I’m kind of okay with that. Living here for the past 9 months has meant changing a lot about myself and the way I do things. So maybe I can’t find real yogurt or cheese or granola or baking powder or quinoa. That’s okay. There are other ways to make it work, and I’ve learned to go with the flow.
And now here’s a comprehensive list of why I go to Indomaret:
- To get out of the house and interact with humans
- To buy plane tickets
- To buy train tickets
- To buy pulsa (minutes)
- To make new friends
- To take shelter from the rain (on the way home from another Indomaret)
- To fend off boredom
- To break big bills
- To use the ATM
- To find sanctuary in the air conditioning
- To buy emergency rainjackets (I have done this twice)
- To wait to be picked up
- To practice Bahasa Indonesia
- To get material to write funny/weird blog posts about
Until next time (which will hopefully be sooner than three months),