I always say that I don’t mind going to Indonesia sendiri, by myself, every year because I get pretty busy with studying Indonesian at school in the mornings. Not just that though, when I feel lonely in Indonesia, I can usually go outside and someone on the street will talk to me if I make conversation. The bonus is that they will usually speak to me in Indonesian.
To me, a big part of life is on the streets in Indonesia, not like in Australia, where everyone shuts themselves in their houses and no-one seems to gather on the streets to talk to people in the neighbourhood. Have you ever noticed a lot of people gather on the streets in Indonesia particularly at night? Sometimes they are just nongkrong, hanging out, and sometmes they are actually doing official business that may still look just like nongkrong. Ronda can sometimes look like nongkrong. Ronda is another layer of Indonesia that once explained to me made so much sense.
Ronda is night patrol done voluntarily by neighbourhood members. Although it sounds like a girl’s name in English, its only usually done by men. I suppose ronda is about patrolling the neighbourhood for anything suspicious. However its also enjoyed very much by the men as they can nongkrong with other men in their neighbourhood. Many Indonesian men look at ronda more as a nice way to spend time rather than a chore. Its usually done in groups of six men, from 1130pm to 2am. Orang yang ronda (someone who does patrol) is rostered on to do it every 10 days, so 3 times per month.
I asked my teacher if her husband finds it tiring doing ronda and then having to get up and go to work the next day. She said quickly and with certaintly ‘tidak, itu waktu nongkrong’, ‘no, that’s time to hang out’. It is clearly a time her husband really enjoys because he can also socialise with his neighbourhood friends.
Each kampung or city area, has an offical Patrol Post, or Pos Ronda. Pos Ronda is where the men meet up to do their evening Ronda. The Pos Ronda also has neighbourhood notices posted concerning the kampung. Often times though the Pos Ronda is also a place where kids like to play and women like to nongkrong too. Anyone from the community might be sitting and ngobrol, chatting, at the pos ronda.
I wish there was more of this friendly gathering nongkrong in Australia. I know people nongkrong with their friends in Australia but I wish you could just go outside any time you feel lonely and hang with people in your street that also want company, or just because you are assigned to patrol the neighbourhood that night. I think the Indonesians are really onto a good thing here with ronda, ronda not only helps to safeguard the neighbourhood but pos ronda provides a place for people to connect, whether men on ronda duty, kids playing, women talking to women, or men, women and children talking together there.
I think Indonesians still know how to socialise, how to talk to people, they do it well and with ease. They have a sense of community that doesn’t exist in Australian suburbs and cities, where sitting and talking on the streets at night is the norm.