Miss Tjitjih Theater

When many Indonesians are quick to take to the street in protest when a snippet of an Indonesian dance appeared in a video promoting tourism in Malaysia, the sad fact is that art and culture here are suffering from neglect.

A good example is the Miss Tjitjih Theater in Cempaka Baru, Central Jakarta.

Mang Esek, who joined Miss Tjitjih more than 40 years ago and now serves as the troupe’s manager and promoter, takes us back to the golden era of Miss Tjitjih and contrasts it with the theater’s current fate.

Mang Esek, the manager and promoter of Miss Tjitjih Theater in Cempaka Baru, Central Jakarta.
How famous was Miss Tjitjih? 

In its heyday, people from outside the city came just to see it. That was it, they would come to town, watch a show and then leave. They used to say that if you had never seen Miss Tjitjih, you’d never really been to Jakarta. We used to have 2,000 people in the audience each night. 

How did this end up as a Sundanese traditional theater in Jakarta? 

Back when the troupe was known as Valencia Opera, they performed in bahasa Melayu [Malay language]. One artist, Nyi Tjitjih, quickly became the most famous member of the group. Soon, people were coming especially to see her. So the name was changed from the Valencia Opera to Miss Tjitjih to honor her. And we focus our shows on Sundanese traditional drama simply because Nyi Tjitjih was Sundanese. However, now we perform the drama in Indonesian or occasionally Betawi. 

When can we come and see a performance? 

Now we’re down to just two performances a week. We put on a show every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. 

Does the schedule ever change? 

This show is subsidized by the Jakarta government. So this show really depends on them. A while back, we didn’t have a single show for more than six months because there wasn’t enough money. 

How much do tickets sell for? 

Rp 10,000. [$1.10] 

What’s the dorm-looking place next to the theater? 

We live there. The government provides housing next to the theater for all the artists here. We also have a guesthouse on the premises to provide accommodation for artists from out of town. 

How many people live here? 

There are around 20 family heads here with three to six family members each. From grandparents to in-laws, they all stay here. All of the Miss Tjitjih members are here. Some of them move out to try their luck outside Miss Tjitjih, but then they come back. 

When did you join Miss Tjitjih? 

I don’t remember when it was exactly. I’m sure it was when I was at elementary school. 

Can you talk about the show when it was in its heyday? 

Back in the 1970s and 1980s the tickets were always sold out. And back then, we had three performances a day, every day. Now, we think we’re lucky if we have an audience of 20 for a performance. 

But the worst thing is how indisciplined the kids are nowadays. They’re usually just playing around, screaming and running around the theater while their parents and the others audience members are trying to enjoy the show. 

What’s the troupe’s most popular ever show? 

‘ Beranak Dalam Kubur ’ [‘Giving Birth in a Grave’]. 

Is it true that Miss Tjitjih liked to specialize in horror shows? 

People love urban legends. We tap into that because we want people to come to the shows. But trust me, it’s not all goosebumps, we provide a laugh or two here at the show. 

What do you do when you’re not preparing for a show? 

I just sit in the back here in this gazebo and try to find some inspiration for a new story. I’m always writing new scripts. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how to get out there and promote our theater. 

Have you ever tried to find a sponsor? 

I have been trying to invite some prominent Sundanese figures to come here and have a sit down. They just never come. I won’t stop trying though. 

Do you collaborate with performers from modern theater troupes? 

Yeah, we’ve done that several times. There are some differences between modern and traditional theater. We in traditional theater rely a lot on improvisation, while modern theater is preoccupied with narrative, which is delivered to the audience using well-crafted dialogue. But we’re glad that there are still a few youngsters who want to perform with us. 

What was your proudest moment with Miss Tjitjih? 

When President Sukarno awarded us the Piagam Wijayakusuma [arts and cultural award].

Posted on Jakarta Globe

An Antique Coins Seller

The 1998 financial crisis hit a lot of people hard. Many, such as Sofyan, lost their jobs and were forced out of their comfort zones. But as Sofyan discovered, sometimes you can learn from a catastrophe, or even from selling socks in the street.

Today, the former money changer explains how he bounced back from the crisis and found a new business selling antique currency in Pasar Baru, and just how he gets the Queen Wilhelmina gulden so clean.

‘The Circle of Expired and Current Money Goes Around’

First, tell us about the antique money that you sell here. 

Old and classic, isn’t it? These all are authentic currencies but they no longer have any value for buying things. The only value left in the antique currencies is what they’re worth to coin collectors and I have almost all the currencies those collectors are looking for. I have Indonesian money dating back to 1945, Dutch gulden, Chinese emperor’s currency, old US dollars and many more. 

Can you guarantee that all the money here is genuine? 

Of course! You can tell the difference from the paper. The real money has a rougher texture and it’s sturdier than ordinary paper. 

How did you get this stuff? 

When I first got started, I bought all the monies from an agent and it cost me about Rp 1 million ($113). Along the way, people not only would come to me to buy what I sell, but they also would offer to sell me what old money they had. If the money was in good condition, I would buy it. So the circle of expired and current money goes around just like that: someone sells it, someone buys it. 

How did you decide to get into this business? 

I used to work at a money changer until the 1998 financial crisis closed down the place where I worked. It went bankrupt and then I was unemployed. After that, I tried working as a vendor selling socks and handkerchiefs on the streets of Jakarta. Then, a friend suggested that I use my experience from my work at a money changer by selling antique money. There was a demand for the business, so here I am now. 

Have you ever had a customer come by who wanted to buy all of your old money? 

I haven’t so far. But if one day that happens, I’d love to sell everything I have here. I would even give her or him a big bonus — the suitcase I use to store all my old money. I may have nothing to sell afterward, but I could always go back to work as an agent again, just like I did in the beginning. 

You work here in Pasar Baru. Do you live nearby? 

Not really. I live in Citayam, a suburban area near Depok. Every day, I have to take a train to get here. I sell coins from noon to 5 p.m. I can’t stay longer than that because I’d miss the train. If the day is slow, I will have usually packed up and left by four in the afternoon. 

What is a busy day for you? 

A busy day for me is when I can make Rp 1 million in sales. The biggest amount that I’ve earned in a day was Rp 2.5 million. That was when a guy bought all the old 1 rupiah and 10 rupiah coins to use in his wedding’s mahar [dowry]. That was like my best day ever. On average, I can earn about Rp 2 million to Rp 2.5 million in a month. But today is pretty slow. If I am able to make Rp 10,000 I will thank God. 

Is there any special treatment for these coins? 

I regularly polish the Queen Wilhelmina gulden because it’s pretty popular among collectors. I also polish the other empire coins with a special metal cleaner. I don’t give any treatment to the one-cent coins. To some people, the rustier, the more antique. 

Have you ever been cheated with counterfeit money? 

One time there was a guy who sold me some dollars and I gave him Rp 700,000 for the exchange. Shortly afterward, I went to a money changer to resell it, but they said the money was fake, and I lost my Rp 700,000. I knew that the paper was somehow slightly different, but I ignored it. I never thought I would get cheated. 

What do you do when you get home at night? 

Well, I just live with my wife; all my children are grown up and married. But since my parents live close to us, we often visit them. Also, I have some ducks at home. It’s good to spend times with my ducks when I’m missing my children. 

You sound like you’ve done a lot of interviews. 
I’ve been interviewed many times, for television and newspapers, so I’m not clumsy anymore. My neighbor keeps telling me when I’m on TV or in the newspaper but I rarely see myself there. My friends have asked why don’t I just ask those television guys to make me a celebrity, but I tell them I already am a Shah Rukh Khan to my wife. 

Sofyan was talkingto Farah Fadillah Anjanie.

Posted on Jakarta Globe

A Religious DJ

When he’s not scratching out a set at some smoky club, you’re likely to find Noval Harmanto in church. Odd? Not for this 30-year-old DJ who comfortably straddles both worlds as he pursues his twin passions.

Noval tells My Jakarta about his dark past and the traumatic event that helped him get sober, and explains what he is doing to help clean up the image of the city’s clubbers.

‘I Won’t Fall Into The Dark Side Of the Nightlife Around Me’

How did you get started as a DJ? 

I started thinking about how I could make money doing something I loved, and I realized I wanted to be a disc jockey. I took a month long DJ course and had my first performance in a club in Bandung, West Java. I did shows in Jakarta and Bali, and with my network of friends, pretty soon I was able to secure enough club dates that I was able to support myself. Before that, I used to own a small stall that sold leather upholstery for car seats. That was back in 2007, but the business wasn’t so good and I went broke. Around the same time, my dad was seriously ill and I had a brother who was still in school, so I was responsible for supporting the family. 

How did your parents feel about your decision to become a DJ? 

It wasn’t easy at first. Everyone was against me, considering my history. Even my pastor came and talked to me. They said nightlife is bad and could turn me away from God. But I was eventually able to convince them that I would be OK. 

What history? 

Well, I used to be a junkie and an alcoholic. I guess that’s why my parents and my pastor were so afraid that I would get back into that life if I became a DJ. But not this time. Not a chance. I promised myself that I would never again drink or take drugs. 

You seem serious about staying clean. Was there a specific turning point for you? 

I found out that my mom had breast cancer. That was quite a turning point for me. And everything I’m doing right now is for the sake of my family. So it has to be good. 

What else do you do besides DJing? 

I also do some administrative and finance work for Filter Management, an agency for freelance DJs and an organizer for events and parties around Indonesia. But you might be surprised to learn that my life is about more than just nightlife. I’d like to state that I’m a religious person and I’m actively involved in church activities. Besides regularly worshiping at a church in South Jakarta, I’m also a church deacon and help collect funds for charity, arrange church suppers and keep worshippers involved in the church. 

Do you ever find it odd, being so involved in two activities that seem very contradictory? 

Well, it sometimes feels like I belong in two different worlds. But it’s not really something I think or worry too much about. I always think that being a DJ is a job, something I have to do to support myself and my family. It’s not something I do just for fun. 

Do you ever feel like a hypocrite? 

Not at all. The strong faith I have always helps me stay sober and on the right track. I won’t fall into the dark side of the nightlife all around me. 

How do you split your time between the two activities? 

I always devote my Wednesdays and Saturdays for worship and the church. Outside of those two days, I’ll take any job offer that comes my way to DJ. But managing my schedule isn’t really that complicated. 

You seem pretty dedicated to the church. So do you still enjoy yourself when you DJ? 

As a DJ, I enjoy the experience of expanding my network, because that’s what the job is all about. Job offers often come to me at the most unexpected times, usually from people who I bumped into at some show or during my own work as a DJ. That said, I don’t like the fact that DJs have this image of being playboys [laughs]. At the same time, as someone who’s active in his church, I enjoy how I am able to find peace within myself through the religious activities I’m involved in. 

Say that your brother wanted to follow in your footsteps and become a DJ. What would you say? 

I would be the first to confront him. That might sound selfish, but I just want him to do better than me. 

Is there anything that you want to contribute to Jakarta through your activities? 

First, I want to help Jakarta’s clubbers stay away from drugs. I want to show them that they can still have fun without drugs. Second, and it has more to do with my job, I want to change the often negative image that people have of DJs, like that they’re drunks. Last, and most importantly, I want to create a peaceful Jakarta where nobody judges other people based just on their religion. 

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? 

I want to be serving God better. No more nightlife. I want a job with regular working hours. I’ll probably try and start selling leather upholstery for cars again. This time I will really focus on the business, so it will be possible for me to expand the business and make it as big as possible. And somehow, I want to get married and start a family [smiles]. 

Noval Harmanto was talking to Farah Fadillah Anjanie.

Posted on Jakarta Globe

Indie Musician and English Teacher

It used to be every singer’s dream to sign with a major label. But in Jakarta’s jumping music scene, thriving indie artists are in no rush to give up control over their careers. 

Take independent songwriter and English teacher Dini Budiayu, 26, who says that writing and singing are in her blood. 
Today, Dini talks to  My Jakarta about the local music scene, discusses the advantages of being an independent artist and reveals a little about her debut album, which is set to be released in July on her own label.

"My inspiration comes from what I

Tell us, how did you get your start in music?

Back in 2009, when a friend of mine was in the middle of making a short independent movie, he asked me to do the soundtrack. After that, I started to sing in cafes every once in a while. Then, I finally decided to focus on making music. I think it’s in my blood too— my dad passed it on to me. Music has always been interesting to me. 

Where can people see you perform? 

I have performed in cafes in Kemang, South Jakarta. Come to EC at eX Plaza on May 23, I’ll be performing there. Or if you are curious about my music, you can just visit my site at myspace.com/sayadini. 

So you write your own songs? 

Yes, most of them. I’ve written 15 songs so far. I can just spontaneously picture all the stuff I’ve been through. The atmosphere, the view, the smell of even the most awkward situation — when I sit by myself in the back of a cab, it’s all still clear in my mind. When I write lyrics, there’s a sensation of getting pulled back into those scenes. It feels like I’m there. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 

All my inspiration comes from what I’ve seen, heard or felt. But the hardest part of songwriting is when you, at the time, don’t feel any love, but you have to write a love song. 

How do you cope with those times you can’t find inspiration, when you can’t write songs? 

Sometimes, you can arrange everything so you’re ready to write, you have coffee, cigarettes, paper and pen with you as you sit in a nice coffee shop, but you still don’t have any inspiration and can’t get in the mood. When that happens to me, I take my time and watch the other people or listen to everything and try to feel the ambience. I just don’t push myself too hard. 

Have you ever considered making your own album? 

I’m in the middle of making my very first album. It is scheduled to be released in July. There are 10 songs, which I recorded myself in a friend’s studio with a little help from my friend Fiqih Anggoro, who is acting as my music director. I recorded my album on my own independent label. 

So you’re an indie musician. Have you ever thought about trying to land a recording deal with a major label? 

It’s all about passion and satisfaction. If I record on my own label, I’m not being driven by someone else. 

Can we call you a producer too? 

I’m a producer for my own album, but not a music producer. However, I’m so grateful that I’m working with the most wonderful people in the universe [laughs]. They are inspiring, and become the color of the process — the art itself. 

And what is your main occupation? 

Right now I work as full-time English teacher at the Wall Street Institute. 

So how do you prefer to be known? 

I’d rather say that I’m a teacher who’s making music. Otherwise, I’d like to be known as an artist, because I make art. 

Is it true that most of your songs are written in English? Do you think some situations are better expressed in English? 

Yes. But I have no particular reason why I write lyrics in English or in Bahasa. Both languages have their own beauty. It’s just a matter of my ‘mood’ when I’m writing. 

Describe the kind of songs you make in three words. 

Sincere, honest and simple. 

Which of your songs do you like the most? 

I’d say all of them. They put me in different moods. I remember one of my favorite male singers, Leonardo Ringo. He once said, ‘Your songs are your children. You don’t say one of them is cheesy.’ 

Do you think Jakarta is a good place to spread your wings as a musician? 

Yes, because here the people are open-minded. I believe they’re open for any kind of music. 

What’s your suggestion for people who are taking baby steps in music? 

Keep on doing it. Free your mind by expressing yourself through art or whatever brings you pleasure. I think that’s the way to have fun in life. 

Dini Budiayu was talking to Farah Fadillah Anjanie.

Posted on Jakarta Globe 


We all sing in the shower, but not everybody is laying bass drum, hi-hat and snare tracks while we lather, rinse and repeat. Meet Servo Caesar Prayoga, or Avo to his friends, who creates all the beats he needs with his lips and lungs.  
But the 27-year-old is not the only beatboxer in the city; there are hundreds more talented Jakartans, who flocked to the vocal technique following the screening of “Love Peace & Beatbox,” at the Goethe Institute in 2008. It’s pretty interesting how one movie could spark a generation of artists. Today, Avo tells us all  there is to know about beatboxing Jakartans. 

Avo tells us about the beatboxing scene in Jakarta, the sexiest city in the world! (JG Photo)

Could you explain a little bit about beatboxing in Indonesia? 

We are the third generation of beatboxers. Meaning that we learned from the Internet during the expansion of Hip-Hop in 2000s. In 2008, there was a European film festival at the Goethe Institute. 

They screened “Love Peace & Beatbox,” a German music documentary made by Volker Meyer-Dabisch. Mando, one of the German beatboxers in the film, came to Indonesia. 

That’s when it all really started. The visit gave rise to IndoBeatbox — Indonesia’s largest beatbox community, founded by Billy BdaBX, Indra Aziz and Tito Gomez of Fade2Black. 

What drew you to beatboxing? 

I can’t sing well. That’s one of three things I can’t do in this world — singing, drawing and playing basketball. It’s not that I’m tone deaf, but if I went to a singing audition, I think the judge would cut me off before I finished my first song. 

Beatboxing is just another way to sing for me. 

How long did it take before you knew you were good? 

I mastered the basic pattern of bass drum, hi-hat and the snare sound in just a night. 

What was the first song you taught yourself? 

‘Where Is the Love’ by the Black Eyed Peas and ‘I’m a Slave for You’ by Britney Spears. Those were beatbox cover versions, which means we made our own beat to go over the original lyrics. 

What’s the most difficult technique in beatboxing? 

Techniques like techno alarm and vocal scratch are tough, but humming and deep throat bass were the most difficult techniques for me to learn, they gave me a sore throat [laughs]. 

Any advice for young beatboxers out there? 
Practice. I myself practice in the bathroom or on my motorcycle with my helmet on. You can hear your voice very clearly. 

Or you can search the Internet, YouTube or go to any of these Web sites: indobeatbox.com, humanbeatbox.com, beatboxbattle.tv. Or just come hang out with the community. 

We meet every Wednesday evening at Taman Menteng. 

Are there female beatboxers? 

Of course! We have several females in IndoBeatbox, and the number grows each day. I’m sure they’ll be able to beat foreign female beatboxers like Bellatrix, Steff la Cheffe and Butterscotch — one day. 

Do you guys compete overseas? 

IndoBeatbox just celebrated its second anniversary and we just came back from Singapore after performing at the Esplanade. 

Now we’re preparing ourselves for the world-class beatbox battle in Berlin next year. 

What do you do when you’re not busy beatboxing? 

I’m an editor, digital artist, musician, writer and lecturer. I’m teaching and developing a curriculum for a company that runs an editing systems training center during the day. 

Also, at night, I’m editing ‘Rindu Purnama,’ an upcoming feature-length film by Mathias Muchus. In my spare time I play futsal and do capoeira. 

You seem to do a lot of things at the same time. Wouldn’t you prefer to focus on one of them? 

One thing leads to another. I’m doing a lot of things to inspire people in many ways. If they become a better, happier or more successful person that’s my source of happiness. 

I’m trying to do that step by step. Right now, I can say with confidence that I’m living my dream. 

Is beatboxing a music genre by itself or does it fall under the category of hip-hop? 

I don’t classify genres of music. Music is universal. It all comes from the same root. I don’t label people by their taste of music. Even in our current atmosphere of decreasing musical quality, I still have respect for all musicians. 

The music industry is to blame for giving some music genres a bad image. Recording companies and media are responsibility for that too. 

What’s your favorite place to hang out in the city? 

Magali in Fatmawati. They have the best menu; nasi goreng kambing [goat] and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Such a perfect match. 

Is nasi goreng kambing your favorite food? 

Except durian and jengkol [type of bean], all food is delicious. Oh wait, there’s one thing I love above all: a double portion of instant noodles with half-boiled eggs — lezaaat [delicious]!! 

If you can color Jakarta in your mind, what would the color be? 

Purple, equals sexy. For what it’s worth, Jakarta is one of the sexiest cities in the world. 

What would you do if you were governor of Jakarta? 

I’d give free education to all of those who are eager to learn, build hundreds of public spaces for music, film, sports and art. 

Also, a lot of training centers, from culinary schools to computer programming classes. 

And they’d all be free. I repeat, FREE. Oh yeah, and I will train my own black ops team to exterminate every single corrupt government official [laughs].

-Posted on Jakarta Globe

A Story About A Hacker?

Yudha Yogasara, aka Psychozetic, doesn’t care for the term ‘hacker.’ This  23-year-old computer security and open-source activist says hacker carries a negative connotation and insists he uses his powers for good, not evil.  

Psychozetic isn’t the kind of guy who would hack into his ex-girlfriend’s  Facebook account and mess with her status — he’s not a black hat. 

He’s more a shade of gray who’s sometimes tempted to trade secrets with Indonesia’s cyber police or sneak into a security system for ‘fun, not destruction.’

Psychozetic, a 23-year-old computer security and open-source activist, insists he uses his online powers for good, not evil.

How did you become a hacker? 

First of all, let me get one thing straight — people think hacking is negative, so I don’t really like to be called a hacker. 

The truth is, it’s just entering and navigating a computer’s security system. We guard the system, we have a code of ethics. I started hacking in 2005 and did the online Certified Ethical Hacker test in 2007. 

So you need to be certified to hack? 

Hacking without a ‘permit’ would be illegal in any context. If a company paid you to penetrate their network or computer system, then that’s totally different. Then you’re a security system consultant. 

Why are you so proud of being a hacker? 
For me, hacking isn’t something that is restricted to computers. It’s the art of thinking outside the box. A hacker solves a problem in a unique way. Everyone has the potential to be a hacker. 

What was your first hack? 

It was less than five years ago. I sneaked into the shopping cart system of a random online bookstore. I changed the formula so all buyers paid less than they were supposed to. 

But the administrator seemed to realize something was wrong. They came back and laid some extra protection into the system. 

What kind of things are you exploring now? What systems have you been sneaking into? 

Nothing. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. 

Do you know about the Starbucks hack? 

The ex-cashier who stole the credit card information of 41 clients? I know how it worked. He reprinted the receipt and double processed via verification codes. 

You gave us your real name. Aren’t you afraid the police will come after you? 

Naaah. They wont do anything. You know, in our forum, some cybercrime police even share ideas with us. [The Web site is jasakom.com — the largest hacker community in Indonesia]. 

Do you think that you could hack your way onto the cyberpolice’s system? 

I don’t really feel like sneaking into their system. I’m afraid it would be the same as the General Election Commission’s [KPU] — full of mp3 files. 

Have you ever hacked an ex- girlfriend’s Facebook account? 

Never. And it’s called cracking. It’s pointless. 

What’s the different between hacker and cracker? 

It’s slightly different. It’s just about the intention or personal motivation. There are actually three types of hackers: white, gray and black hats. To make it simple, we can call anyone who is a cracker a black hat. 

What color is your hat? 

I’m not a black hat. Hacking is a double-edged sword. Once you have that skill, you can choose to use it for good or for bad. 

I would say most hackers in Indonesia are not white hackers. Most of them are gray hats, but I’m not saying they are 100 percent gray. 

White hackers don’t break into other systems illegally. But sometimes we’re ‘childish’ and sneak into a system for fun — not to cause any destruction. 

So like Batman or Superman you live two lives. Tell me what you do as a ‘normal’ person? 

I’m a college student, a panelist at IT seminars, a tutor at IT workshops, a writer, a moderator and the founder of a few hacker community forums, the head of KPLI — Kelompok Pengguna Linux [Linux User Group] - Tangerang. 

And I do work on some IT projects that I can’t mention here. 

You said you’re a writer. What do you write? 

I have written some books including ‘Teknik Hacking Untuk Pemula’ [‘Hacking Techniques for Beginners’], ‘Internet Untuk Pemula,’ [‘Internet for Beginners’], which I wrote with college friends, and ‘Remastering Distro Linux.’ 

Check out my blog on http://tinyurl.com/2blrwrm. It’s good for beginners but it’s in Indonesian. 

Tell us a story about hacking. 

Back in high school I snuck into the system of one of the biggest communication providers in Indonesia. I found a weakness in the system and I told the Web site administrator. 

They called me back and needless to say they were pretty surprised to find out I was a high-school student. 

Did they offer you a reward? 

Just a thank you [laughs]. 

What are the latest hacker trends? 

Nothing much. It’s still about defacing a Web site or cracking Facebook to steal Poker chips to be resold. 

So what would you like to be called, instead of hacker? 

Computer security and open-source activist. 

-Posted on Jakarta Globe

Break Dancer

Rahmei Yuda is convinced break dancing is an extreme sport. It’s got all the ingredients: adrenaline, competition, an air of anti-mainstream angst. But can dancing really be considered a sport, let alone an extreme one?

Today, Rahmei, a 23-year-old project designer, defends his extreme sport argument, breaks down the basics of a dance battle and gives us the story behind the name of his crew: Pertamz Breaker.

Rahmei Yuda.

When did you start break dancing? 

The first time I saw another kid at school moving, stretching and crumpling his body, I knew I wanted to try break dancing. That was in 2004. Luckily, I met these people who ended up being part of my crew, who liked the same techniques and moves as me. So we started to practice together. Whenever we get together we share new moves and techniques. We also critique and correct each other. 

What makes break dancing so interesting? Why not salsa or the fandango? 

I can honestly say I see it as an extreme sport. Mastering one move or another really gets your adrenaline pumping. Plus, the guys in the crew aren’t just my friends, they’re also my teachers. The art of break dancing involves teamwork. The guys around you give you energy and cover for you when you run out of moves in a battle. 

A battle, what’s a battle? 

It’s when one crew faces off against another. Everyone takes turns dancing and showing off the moves they’ve got. It goes back and forth until one crew runs out of moves. Whoever runs out of moves first loses. 

Can you just start break dancing anywhere in the city, or are there certain spots everyone goes to? 

No way, you can’t just start dancing unless you want people to stare at you and call you a weirdo. We have certain spots where we practice. We usually go to the Pertamina Building [across from the Gambir train station] or at a campus security post at my university. That’s where our name, Pertamz Breaker, comes from. 

How many people are in your crew? 


Do you bring a piece of cardboard with you everywhere just in case you feel like dancing? 

Nope. But I bring a helmet and wrist bands with me when I know I’m going to be dancing. 

Describe Jakarta in four words. 

Freedom, fun, expressive and stylish. 

What do you do when you’re not dancing? 

I’m a project designer at a multimedia and power systems company that provides companies with computer systems, lighting and CCTV; kind of like a contractor. I work Monday through Friday, and I still go to class in the evening. There is no way I’ll ever get bored of break dancing. It’s like my getaway from my normal routine. 

Which one do you prefer, designing products or break dancing? 

I love break dancing, but it’s not exactly a promising career path. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, it’s just that you eventually have to commit to something. Right now, I’m trying to concentrate on building my career as a project designer. 

Can you give us the names of a few break dance moves?

We have a lot of moves — head spins, back flips and flares — those are basic moves. Some moves are combined with other moves to create new moves. Many of those don’t have distinct names, or if they do, we call them by a different name to everyone else. 

What was the toughest move to master? 

The flare. It’s hard to put all your weight on your hands and lift your feet while spinning above the ground like that. 

Could you break dance to a dangdut song? 

[Laughs] I’ve never tried it. But I did break dance to a Melayu [traditional Malay] song. That was awkward. I think we might try dancing to dangdut. 

What kind of music are you into right now? 

Michael Jackson. 

So, would you call yourself a professional or an amateur? 

Initially, I started break dancing as exercise and to have fun. Me and my crew battle the other teams sometimes just to explore and pick up new moves. We also do it to entertain people. We perform at high school events. We’re not looking to enter any competitions or anything like that. We’re just having fun. 

Beyond that, professional breakers have a well-established, solid team. Plus they’ve mastered almost all the moves. I’m thankful I have a solid team — that’s why we’ve won battles — but I still need to learn a lot.

Posted on Jakarta Globe

A Story About A Medical Student (in Monas)


Sukma Aditya Putra’s dream has always been to be a military man, and nothing will dissuade him — even being turned away by the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI). This 20-year-old now studies medicine at the University of National Development and spends much of his free time providing free health checkups to the public, and planning his future career as a military doctor.

"People eat junk food. Of the people we check, just 40 percent are healthy," says Sukma.

Tell me more about these free health checkups. 

You could say that we are the pioneers of regular health checkups for the public. We measure blood pressure, glucose levels, uric acid, cholesterol and check blood type. A team of 10 to 20 people stands by at this health post from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. This post has been running for a few years, but we stepped up the program a year ago. 

What inspired you to do this for the public? 

It’s simple: people eat junk food. Our data says that on average, of the people we check, just 40 percent are healthy. This is obviously well below the standard that a country should aim to be regarded as having healthy citizens. People just eat to satisfy their taste buds; they don’t care about nutrition. Smoking, eating fast food and lack of exercise all affect health. We want to help people get regular checkups and to make them more conscientious about their health. 

You mentioned junk food, but what about instant noodles? 

People should know that there are lots of additives in instant noodles such as sodium carbonate, monosodium glutamate and other dangerous substances. I suggest to all instant-noodle lovers that they don’t eat them more than twice a week if they want to avoid digestive disorders or, even worse, cancer. It’s better to prevent than to cure, right? 

How many posts do medical students at your university operate? 

We have three. There is this one in Monas [National Monument Park in Central Jakarta], and ones in Cijantung and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah [both in East Jakarta]. 

Why did you choose Monas? 

As you can see, this is the spot where people come to jog. It’s always crowded on Sundays. Plus, Monas is the center of the city. So it’s much easier to get here 

Is this your dream job? 

Actually, I wanted to be in the military. After I graduated from high school, I wanted to register for the military academy but they rejected me because I wasn’t old enough. My parents suggested this medical school and I thought it was a great idea, and I can help people with my skills. This is a noble profession because we save lives. I truly believe that failure is postponed success. 

Do you still want to be in the military? 

We are from the School of Medicine at the University of National Development. Our university is under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense, so as well as giving us a chance to become doctors in five years, we have internships at five military hospitals, including the Army’s main hospital, Gatot Subroto, which supports the program. The most important thing is that we have the chance to obtain an Armed Forces scholarship to become a doctor in the military. Being in the military was my goal, but now I’m following another path to the same dream, to be a doctor in the military. 

Is the money good? 

That is a paradigm that we­ — the younger generation — should change. For me, being a doctor is not about money, money and more money. Instead it’s about serving people. The most important things in this “business” are skills, attitude and knowledge. What would you say if you met an unfriendly doctor or a doctor who gave you the wrong diagnosis? You probably wouldn’t want to consult him again, would you? That’s what I’m talking about. “One can become a true human being by becoming a rational and knowledgeable person actively serving others to the best of one’s ability.” That’s my motto. I hope people can get better access to health care. 

Do people have to pay for the checkups at the post here? 

Not really, but they can make a voluntary contribution. The money we are given is handed over to the PMI [ Indonesian Red Cross], or sometimes, after a natural disaster like the Situ Gintung dam collapse, we give the money to a related charity. 

You must be very busy. 

You can tell from my routine. Attending lectures, being president of the student executive committee and assisting with this medical checkup program means I have little time with my family, but they understand what I’m doing. As long as it’s something positive, they will support me. 

Do you have a girlfriend? 

Not at the moment. 

What do you do in your spare time? 

I like exercising. I play futsal, badminton and go swimming. But if I have time to relax, I just stay at home, hanging out with the family and browsing the Internet. I like to browse health and medical Web sites to expand my knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a real freak; I also use Twitter and Facebook. 

So, do you eat instant noodles? 

[Laughs] Rarely. Less than once a month. 


Sukma Aditya Putra was talkingto Farah F Anjanie.

Posted on Jakarta Globe


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