Nongkrong is the best

Posted on: January 4, 2009

This article was published by The Jakarta Post on January 20, 2009. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.

What is it with Indonesians (especially the young Indonesians) that we love to nongkrong so much? Before you judge me, I’m not saying that nongkrong is bad; it’s probably one of the most important reasons why I chose to come back to Indonesia.

But sometimes it just makes me wonder why our people love to nongkrong so badly? What is nongkrong anyway? It’s so hard to explain, really. It’s so hard that I don’t think Oxford English Dictionary has that word in English. “To hang around” may be the right expression in English for “nongkrong”. For Indonesians, as I know it, nongkrong means “to meet and talk; and smoke for some”.

But nongkrong is basically about talking and talking with people we’re close with. But what to talk about? Based on my experience of being an Indonesian for more than 20 years and so, we Indonesians talk “nothing” when we nongkrong. And that’s why it’s so exciting.

“Nothing” here doesn’t mean that we don’t talk when we meet, but it specifically means that we talk nothing important. Yes, we talk and talk for hours about things that aren’t really important.

Some might nongkrong to talk about something important, but trust me, it usually lasts within the first hour; the next hours will be about who’s got a new girlfriend or where the new cool place to hang out is.

When I was in America it was a different story. People meet up at a restaurant or a cafe to talk something important. They talk business or they study together. It seems to me that in America time is money (really).

Americans don’t really meet in a big group (while Indonesians love to meet in a big group); when they do it’s usually for a meeting or probably a museum tour. So, they don’t really have a term “nongkrong” in their lives. Meeting to talk about something unimportant? What’s that all about? They might think.

“Nongkrong” is obviously not on their list. They do, though, hang around with their friends but only on weekends; and it comes with all their strict rules.

That’s why you’ll find Starbucks stores in America are different from the ones we have in Jakarta; and you can be proud of that. Coffee shops in America are mostly quiet. They’re quiet because most people come either to study, read a book, or talk business; others just grab and go. While a coffee shop in Jakarta is typically noisy since we make coffee shops as perfect spots to nongkrong. On weekends we spend hours and hours talking loudly at coffee shops or restaurants.

That doesn’t mean Americans don’t nongkrong at all, it’s just that we Indonesians do it so much more.

I remember when my friends picked me up at Jakarta’s International Airport after flying from America and Japan. They had promised me to take me around as soon as I landed. They then took a new place in Kemang where they had cafes and restaurants. The place was packed with young people; finding a parking spot was a tough struggle.

When I asked him what’s so fun of going there besides eating and drinking he spontaneously answered, “What do you think stupid? Of course we’re going to nongkrong!” Suddenly I felt guilty of still having the American mindset in Indonesia. I replied him with a big grin, “I’m sorry, you’re right. Of course my friend, it’s nongkrong time!”

Some people might attack our habit of “nongkrong” as one of the reasons why our society is left behind: It’s this behavior that makes us a lazy nation. Is that true? Well, I guess someone has to start conducting a scientific research on this issue. The result will surely be interesting and our government officials might be able to use it to fix this nation.

But before some smart old guys conduct such a research, we all should agree that nongkrong is indeed fun. It’s so much fun that we don’t realize how time can slip by so fast. It’s the moment when we Indonesians share our happiness with our loved ones. We laugh so much and we share stories. The concern over whether our young people do nongkrong too much is another matter.

I don’t think we all should be ashamed of being what we are. We Indonesians love to socialize and what’s wrong with that?

A friend of mine got really bored living in America only after leaving Indonesia for 6 months. The one thing he complains about the culture in America is that Americans are like robots: They wake up, they work, they eat, and they go home; and they will do the same exact thing everyday. All of those done to pay what Americans call, Mr. Bills.

But again, I’m not saying that nongkrong is bad; I do it all the time too. Hey, I’m an Indonesian just like you guys too. The only difference that I have right now is that I don’t like to nongkrong at a mall or at a place where asap rokok is everywhere anymore.

So, please let me know the coolest places to nongkrong in Jakarta.


10 Responses to "Nongkrong is the best"

I’ve always thought Americans here love to hang out, chill, and be with friends to talk about anything and nothing at the same time lol And which Starbucks did you go to? The one next to my work is very quiet, but the one near Barnes down the street is very loud, especially on the weekends where you can find huge groups of young ‘uns just parked outside or inside for hours on end. Their crowded and noisy scene is why I am perplexed how anyone could think it the best place to study, or get studying done at all?! I tried it once, yah no can do lol
Perhaps the English word, or slang, for ‘Nongkrong” is “chill”. “Ayuk nongkrong” can be phrased as “Let’s chill”.

Perhaps it is the scheduling differences that account for the extra “nongkrong” time many Indonesians, or possibly Jakartans, have. I don’t know how things are now, but if memory serves me correct, the schedule for school/work ends pretty early there because sun sets at 6. And most middle-upper individuals who are in school do not take a side job while hitting the books as well, giving them an extra few hours of the day to be with friends. But then, that was then, perhaps time has changed, the culture has shifted? How is the schedule like now for HS and college students and young professionals alike?

btw, I too agree that this would make for interesting research. 🙂

Hope you had a great New Year and will have a fabulous 2009, tasa. Salam from MD.

Yaaa it’s me in different name. Nooo am not undercover, it’s your blog makes me do it *sigh*

Nongkrong itu kalo keseringan bisa membosankan, apalagi kalo nongkrong sambil gendong anak yang gak mau lepas dari pelukan. Trust me, you’ll need hot ointment to get rid of the pegel linu inside.

Lagian gak selamanya talk for nothing is such a baloney. Justru disitu kita bisa menjalin keakraban bahkan dengan sodara kandung sendiri. Emang meeting business cuma ngomong seriusan doang?? Trust me, I am the ear for my clients who tell about their experience after the meeting. Mau tuh orang Indo, bule, jepang gak beda2 banget lah. Tapi Bedanya, lo gak bisa nyeletuk karena cuma bisa senyum, ngangguk dan “ooh”.

Nongkrong sering dijadikan media pendongkrak kelas sosial. Dimana lo nongkrong, ma siapa lo nongkrong, dll determine your social class. Well it’s fun to do sometimes 🙂

Nongkrong is fun.

I’d like to nongkrong again with you n our friends some other time. Agree…gak pake asap rokok. Ngafe, amigos, dll…..yuuuk

Kok ada avatar siapa nih? Did i just use someone else’s account??? Soriiii it was stupid accident :mrgreen:

*Dasar blog kejaaaamm*

the coziest place for nongkrong in Jakarta?
well, I dare to say Kampus A Usakti.hehehe
dengan taman-taman teduh penuh pohon rindang serta kantin dimana-mana, even in every floor of every building (delivery service also available),dan “pemandangan indah” yang berseliweran di depan mata, bikin jadi malas masuk kelas!

I have been used to nongkrong at bunderan HI (front of Plaza Indonesia) for some years. I hang around with some bloggers and talk about anything from zero to hero every Friday night 😀

I think the place is interesting as long as you forced love Jakarta outdoor area which is covered by air polution… LOL

Nongkrong is a right term to describe: sitting together, chatting “ngalor-ngidul” (overall matters not so systematically), mostly accompanied by coffee or tea, and sometimes snack. But the important point is, it should be with friends, especially close friends. If nongkrong with boss or business colleagues, that’s not nongkrong context, but “rapat” or meeting.

Nongkrong is a good thing to maintain relationship with friends, as long as not over dose, I mean we should know when we should stop “nongkrong”, and be back to our main activities such as study, work, and something else. If we do “nongkrong” all the day then I’m worry something wrong with us because we do nothing but “nongkrong”. I love “nongkrong”, too.

For me, sometimes it’s so interesting “nongkrong” in a modest “warung kopi” like in the “Setarbak Kopi” (not coffee shop in mall) since we could meet with various ordinary people. The most excited moment was when hearing they chatted each other about anything, from politics to economy, from corruptors to devorce celebrities, from fuel shortage to soccer, and many more. They talked confidently more than experts in television. Really!

Indonesians are different with Americans, different with Singaporean. Our country, too, left far behind them. Is it because “nongkrong” habit? Hmm…

are you nongkrong tonight with friends? eh tapi nongkrong sekalian meeting kali yee trus bis tu karaokean ato gak pacaran :mrgreen:

It’s not really important to “nongkrong”. I guess “nongkrong” is need some money for buy something like a meal or drink. I don’t like to use my money for unimportant things.

I would like to read or wasting my time for some relax thing. Not just for hanging out to the mall with friends. It can be doing anywhere. 😉

Yeah. Coffee i love it really much, especially on the waroeng like the setarbak. Maybe it is more delicious than starbuck 🙂

Indonesian love gathering and lately, branded stuff sounds better in our society. That’s why mall are chosen to be the best place for ‘nongkrong’. Maybe we need to build some outdoor public space for people who hate smoke. Yeah, Indonesia is very lack of free outdoor public space.

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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