In locals` view, stranded inside decent malls in Jakarta is normal excuse for daily shopping and coffee; even the city is now highly positioned by having 173 malls. Despite Jones Lang LaSalle`s research releasing deterioration fact of Jakarta malls occupancy to 89% for the past six years, malls are still within the routine activities – it seems of showing no distinction. But as real Jakartan who already enjoyed 1980s built malls and witnessed first opening of the famous Pondok Indah Mall in 1992, I`ve seen different fact inside Indonesia`s capital malls.
Strangers or random people now approach others whom they don`t know at all. Last December 2017 within a regular afternoon on Sunday, I spent time – as always – at one mall in an area called Kuningan, South Jakarta. That high-end mall has been my preference due to my boredom of other malls; not because the others aren`t interesting, it`s just I can`t stand sea of disorganised crowd at the weekends (like where do these thousands of people come from?). So yes that mall has usually been the most peaceful and appropriate one. Well, I thought that particular day would be fine, until I was approached by a 19-year-old girl (I assumed) when sitting in a cafe.
The girl wore white polo shirt and jeans appearing in front of me, but not only came into my sight, she sat across me – on my table! (My heart was shocked like “who are you? Why are you sitting on my table?”). She happened to start her fast pace speaking “Hi, I`m from XX organisation and about to conduct an event, we need some money and if you want to donate, bla bla bla”. I didn`t remember what she said afterwards, because I was afraid that she wanted to hypnotise me. And I strictly said “Sorry, please go”. Then she ran out just like that.
One of the cafe`s waitresses only saw her running and gave no comment, until I said “Why did you let her sitting on mine?”. The waitress said “The girl said that she`s your friend”. My goodness, so she pretended to already know someone – no wonder she could just enter and randomly picked anyone to ask for money.
Two other occurrences happened in early months of 2018, surprisingly in the same mall in West Jakarta. To note, this mall is rather brand-new exclusive one, with some celebrity found to be around. I was again in a cafe, but this time was focusedly working with my laptop. It was noticed in a glimpse that a young man came inside, almost paid attention to me but finally landed to a woman sitting next to me. Again, the man did identical asking-for-money speech with a reason of college fundraising for event – rejected by the woman, he then left. Experiencing and witnessing such strange unexpected spontaneity, I`ve made myself aware until today I was (again) approached by a volunteer from unclear organisation and I directly said “no thanks, sorry”.
It`s a big question mark of why. Got no idea, but I`ve grown up with is individuality; some Jakartans aren`t taught to be nice to strangers. Some have never had the willingness to help others, even to give road direction; and we rarely smile if we`re not with our closest surroundings. Simply because we don`t want to be victim of crime, thief, or perhaps be hypnotised. That`s why to those coming from outside the capital, Jakarta is a jungle with certain circumstances found to be unfriendly and uncomfortable. With such new phenomenon, I`ve felt a weird change in my native environment, as well as been wondering of why. The question is now, why did they approach people? Were they really from charitable organisation or just making fake story to obtain money? Is it because the economic situation is said to be slowing down, so people would do whatever for money? Have Jakarta malls become more inconvenient place to visit?
Until publication of this article, I experienced four times similar approaches in two different luxury malls in South and West Jakarta within April 2018. Those times were even a disguise, because one approach was by two persons wearing fancy clothes; again asked for money for their unknown activities.
| Anisa Kirana | 2018