Pak Hendra Stars In: Fear & Loathing in Indonesia

Retired Journalist Pak Hendra Estomposowo lives in Plabuhan Ratu, Java with his wife and two children. His hobbies are drinking and gambling , following international and local politics, but he’s also a family man. He is a reluctant member of his community and a “Muslim KTP”. He’s a good person, well-read, but he’s obsessed with politics and alcohol.

His children go to an Islamic Boarding School (IBS) in Jakarta. They come home to Plabuhan Ratu for lunar new year holiday. Right away, Pak Hendra and his wife notice that their son, Putra, is very depressed. Pak Hendra tries to figure out why his son is depressed. They go on a walk together. They go fishing. But Pak Hendra can’t understand it.

His children go back to school the next day. When they say goodbye, Pak Hendra starts crying – because he doesn’t know why his son is so depressed.

Like the classic scene from Buddha’s life story, one night Pak Hendra wakes up, kisses his wife, and leaves his house – to find out what the hell is wrong with his country.

On a noisy, stinky ‘motor bebek’, Pak Hendra starts to drive around Indonesia. He is always drinking heavily, and smoking DJ Samsoe, wearing a batik sarong and thick glasses (he is the Indo’ version of Hunter S. Thompson).

He picks up strangers on the back of his motorcycle. He listens to their stories. He convinces an Orang Badui (Kanekes Dalam) to get on his motorcycle, because the person has a sore foot. He goes to a demo and protests one thing (rising cost of BBM) (he doesn’t really know what he’s protesting). Then he goes to another demo and protests against himself (get rid of subsidies).

The police stop Pak Hendra for not wearing a helmet. He refuses to pay the police man on the street – because it’s corruption. The police man invites Pak Hendra to dinner. The police man tries to get money from Hendra by being very nice to him. But finally, the police take Pak Hendra’s motorcycle, and so he starts to walk home.

Finally, Pak Hendra gets picked up by somebody – and for the first time in the story, Pak Hendra starts to ‘curhat’ or rant, and rant, and rant.

The truck driver (Pak Bongkar) gives Pak Hendra a bag of something (mushrooms) and tells him to go “somewhere” and eat them – then he will see clearly what is wrong with the his family, his country, and the world.

He calls it “traditional medicine”.

The driver says “These will help you to see everything clearly”.

Because Indonesia is way too big, Pak Hendra goes to Taman Mini Indonesian Miniature Park in Jakarta – after eating the mushrooms. Finally, he can see all of Indonesia clearly. It’s beautiful and he can’t see any problems. The people of Ambon are very nice, even. The Acehnese don’t want to separate from Taman Mini, because their wages are not too bad.

Then Pak Hendra goes to Java Mini, and Jakarta Mini – and he begins to hallucinate. Inside of Jakarta Mini, there is another Miniature Park. He goes inside. In this “taman mini mini”, the very worst things in Indonesia are everywhere. Hendra is very scared and frightened and crying. Finally, he escapes from this nightmare.

Coming down, Hendra is sitting on Java Mini Island. Everything seems perfect, and the sun is setting.

“Taman Mini is amazing,” he says. “Everybody gets along here. There’s no fighting. The Papuans are lovely. They don’t want to separate. So are the Timorese. Aceh is happy to be a part of the country, and the forests in Borneo are strong and tall…Everybody gets paid just to follow their own traditions. Everybody has food. There is no Lapindo. No Freeport, no macet, no pollusi.”

“What about the rest of the world? I’m curious! Why don’t we have a ‘Dunia Mini’? A miniature planet?” asks a Papuan.

“You mean Disney World, Florida? That’s in America…” answers another Papuan.

“The world…The world is in America?” asks Hendra. “The world…Is in…America…The problem…Is that…The world…Is in…America.”

Pak Hendra phones his son. His son is very worried because nobody knows where Pak Hendra has been…for two years!

“We’re going to Disney World,” says Pak Hendra.


The end.


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