Flexible rules

The past few days have been getting bags ready, rearranging stuff as to make the most of my weight allowance. Actually, I found out that with Japan Airlines, I have an allowance of 2 bags, each with 23 kilos. To do the math for you because that’s pretty advanced math, that is FORTY-SIX kilos!! I hope I don’t have that much stuff. But the tricky part is that I fly first Yogyakarta to Jakarta with Lion Air, a domestic flight carrier. And with Lion Air, I only have an allowance of 20kg. However, I found out that I can get an extra baggage allowance by virtue of being a student here in Indonesia for the year since I will have so many books! Which I do! So I got a letter from UNY for that purpose, requesting that I would be allowed to have a few extra kilos and not have to pay for the extra….

So I found out about that letter 4 days earlier, got the letter the next day, and then went to the airport to request it officially the next day, one day before my flight. I was dreading cycling all the way to the airport yesterday…it’s not that bad, it takes about half an hour, but it’s just not that all pleasant because I’m cycling on heavy-traffic roads with gross exhaust. At least the motorbikes and the cars give you wide berth, unlike traffic in Montreal. I think they are just used to smaller vehicles and giving space here in Indonesia where the majority of the traffic is motorbikes. There is more of a ‘flow’ here (I guess when there can be, when there is no macet.) So I finally left to do that errand at 3:40pm, and arrived at the airport at 4:10pm, sweating, and buying a water, but then trying to drink in private since it’s Ramadhan right now, and it’s really rude to drink or eat in public since everyone else is fasting. Made it. Then went to the counter, and the mbak was super nice, but not really helpful, since I really have to talk to the manager instead, but the manager had left at 4pm. I should’ve known! I missed the manager only by 10 minutes. The manager’s work day is: 10am – 4pm. So the mbak at the Lion Air counter said I should just come back earlier before my flight and ask then. Will do.

Back at the airport for my flight, I ask at the counter, and the Mas this time just told me I had to ask at least a week beforehand so they could’ve arranged things! I asked if it’s possible just to have 5 extra kilos, since I know that other students didn’t have this requirement before. Mohon maaf, mohon maaf, it’s really not possible, since they have to arrange carrying it. Oh well, I tried. I go in the airport to check-in — this is where you go through security, BEFORE you get your boarding pass, so your friends can’t really come in and wait a little bit longer with you… Of course there is no concept of “line” here, and the old ladies butt in while I’m trying to juggle my giant bags of books. By the way, I arranged it so I have a really, really, really heavy carry-on. I can feel the straps almost breaking my collarbones when I put on the bag. But how else can I do it? I should stop collecting old Javanese dictionaries and have a collection of feathers instead.

Then I check my bags – I’m 13kgs over the 20kg allowance. The mbak tells me this, and then I think…. Oh, I have this letter from UNY, requesting a higher baggage allowance. She asks the guy beside her, and then the lady beside him. No problem! So I don’t have to pay for the 13kg overweight. Sweeeeeeeeeet.

Bending the rules here is an interesting matter. Sometimes you can play the “bule card”, and say that you don’t understand the rule, why it’s like that… Sometimes you explain your situation, and they will allow for your exception… Sometimes you can just smile and nod… or sometimes you can ask at a different counter! All these things (except for the first one) you can also do in Canada, but I get the feeling that here you can bend the rules a lot more here.

But other “rule bending” is not so bendable. This is actually because I am a bule that I am treated as a person with infinite amounts of dispensible nduwit, and I can just throw my money away to anyone and at anyplace, since I have wads and wads. For example, at many tourist places, there is an Indonesian entry price, and then there is the ‘bule’ price, which is at least double the Indonesian. I guess this isn’t really a ‘rule’ persay, but if my friend had said, hey, I’ve been living in Indonesia for the past 7 years, and I speak amazing Indonesian, doesn’t that entitle me to an Indonesian price?? No, that really doesn’t. So cough it up. I don’t think there is a special ‘Canadian’ vs. ‘non-Canadian’ price. But you can’t enter in the contests on the back of cereal boxes unless you’re an official resident of Canada. So we have our biases too. haha.

And sometimes you just really don’t want to have the bule card in your hand. For example, some of my friends have had to pay the Immigration Office an extra little somethin’ somethin’ to get their VISA on time. Otherwise, the Office would not have time. Time = money. And then they would not have their exit VISA permit on time, and that is just not cool.

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