I met Janie in late 2013, during our fleeting visit to Jakarta for our ‘Look-See’. Although she had no idea who I was, she welcomed me with open arms (literally!). I felt like I was being reacquainted with a dear friend. I had so many questions buzzing around in my head and Janie immediately instilled a sense of calm in me. But what struck me most that day was Janie’s sense of compassion, acceptance and undeniable optimism. Just knowing that there was one Janie in Jakarta gave me hope that there would be many more like her; compassionate, kind, creative and inspiring – people who only enhance the world in which they live. Twelve months have now lapsed since our first meeting and during this time, I have met an abundance of warm and engaging people. But, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is but one Janie and I’m lucky to have found her.
Janie was born in country New South Wales, Australia, and moved to Sydney following completion of her university studies in Armidale. Whilst in Sydney, Janie worked as a teacher, then moved into the role of Deputy & School Principal. As fate would have it, eight years ago Janie, her partner & daughter (and their dog) made the big move to Jakarta. Having lived in Jakarta for two years in the early 1990’s, Janie had a pretty good idea of what life in ‘The Big Durian’ was like and as her experience had been so positive, she eagerly anticipated her second stint in this big, bustling city.
Kenalkan: Janie Strahle
Where have you lived?
After leaving Australia, I spent 2 years in Jakarta, 3 years in India (Kerala), a short stint in Vietnam and now in Jakarta once more (8 years and counting.. That’s pretty ‘local’, right?)
Initial impression of Jakarta back in 1992
Immediately I fell in love with the personality of Indonesian people, such vibrant diversity in their customs and cultural occasions, so returning in 2006, all my wishes fell into one basket. I also felt that Jakarta offered great scope for exploration and experimentation.
What elements do you love about life in Jakarta?
Nothing seems a trouble here- ..’big or little…’intricate or simple’…..’loud or quiet’….things just happen!!!!!!!!!. There is an industry of ‘have a go, be involved, and get it accomplished’. And of course ‘the smells and bells’ of street life are just magical. I also love the drama of Indonesia- Indonesian people have such a passion for living and seem not to be dictated by routines and mundane matters. They are not aware of judgement in class. What a polite, patient and welcoming society ……. And I think they can teach the whole world how to laugh, even in tough times, there are smiles all over. Oh and it’s amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve noticed that Indonesian people never forget your name.
Has Jakarta changed noticeably during your time here?
Over the last couple of years an enormous number of new eating establishments have popped up- interesting establishments with great design elements, not to mention new menus and fabulous wine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course there has also been the opening of new tollways (complete with rainbow lights!!!!!) and expanded and adjusted road structures- I do miss the ‘old’ Jalan Sudirman.
How do you keep positive?
I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful family and I have a great job, so I really can’t want for much more. It’s on my shoulders that I go out and seek other experiences and circumstances that I hope keep my mind ticking over. And in Jakarta you can do just that- whether it be a visit to the tailor, or to see the latest Art Exhibit at Dia-lo-gue, or stopping the slowly disappearing Kue Pu-Tu seller to buy such a superb treat.
Three things/people that motivate and inspire you
Definitely my partner Brett….I’m so poorly organised with absolutely everything and he is not!!! He has such a methodical patience and endurance of spirit to achieve success in all that he does. Plus he is calm, so talented in his work……and buys unforgettable prezzies!!!!
I love to watch my daughter grow and forge her way into the community…she is a caring, intelligent and generous young person who has such strength of character….indeed very special to observe her choices.
And I guess Karma!!!!!!!!!!!!! Karma motivates AND inspires me- plain and simple ‘do good to others’ and it will come back full circle to you!!!!!!!
What angers/upsets you?
Absolutely 1,2 & 3….Intolerance and Discriminatory Behaviours. So many of us are totally blessed to be born where we are….but sometimes it seems that eyes are not open far enough to appreciate what we have. I don’t do laziness very well either!!
Share Jakarta’s best secrets
Wow, that’s so hard as there are lots and lots……..This list may be endless…………. On the big page I would have to say that as a secular country Indonesia recognises religious diversity, how peaceful, how grown –up!!! Indonesia was my first overseas adventure; it just gets under your skin and I do love this country- little things like taking Jamu, having Totok (similar to acupressure), and eating at almost every street corner……..such luxurious fun.
Your perfect weekend is..
Well…… it would be to find one more day to fit in between Saturday and Sunday. And technology free as I am totally useless at it all. Actually it is so sweet just to do family stuff!!!!!!!!!!!! I so enjoy going to the nurseries at Ragunan to buy such beautiful orchids – a real treat here as they are rather expensive at home. And if there is a market at Dia-lo-gue…. then that is a bonus.
Three things that life has taught you
To be thankful for what you have
To work hard
To share what is yours
Favourite place to eat
Casa in Kemang (order the Caesar salad) and the service from all those gorgeous young people is faultless. And a close second is the Bakwan Malang seller just across the road.
Best coffee/beverage of choice
Gosh, it has to be coffee at City Walk Common Grounds (order the ‘Gibraltar’, which is the equivalent of a ‘Piccolo’).
Favourite place to shop
Pasar Mayestic …..for fabric, fresh vegetables, and THE best haberdashery store in the world…buttons ‘to die for’. And if I am honest Plaza Indonesia…that shop starting with ‘C’ and ending in ‘L’…I wish!!!!!
What are you reading right now?
I have just finished reading ‘Burial Rights’ by Hannah Kent (a young Australian author) What a read!!! And now I am about to open the new book by Ms Westwood…gosh I can’t even remember the title, but the photos chosen by her for the book are superb. Such an exotic and thoroughly principled lady.
Complete this sentence with 3 different endings
When in Jakarta…
Look, smell and smile often
Notice such good manners everywhere..
Favourite place to visit within Indonesia?
Absolutely it would be Malang in East Java and my first stop would be to take Soto Ayam at Toko Oen.
Where to take visitors in Jakarta
You must go straight to Istiqlal, the very beautiful grand mosque near MONAS. What an elegant and imposing building, with such grace and serenity all over. I first went there with my best buddy Ratih, who suggested it, as a good place to take visitors from home – and she was spot on.
Favourite place abroad
India. My goodness, I cannot even try to fit all of its beauty and color and texture and harshness and ….into my mind. It is simply breathtaking!!!!!!! And of course I went to India with Brett and 2 suitcases………..and came home 3 years later – Brett, suitcases, and the gorgeous Dhanya.
You have a dog, Buster. Give us some advice on the following:
Where to exercise your dog
Animal Clinic on Jl. Kemang Timur offers a dog walk dog each month. The streets of the Dalams in Kemang are also good for walks with your dog.
Grooming and vet issues
Animal Clinic (for grooming, excellent vets and pet supplies) and Jak Petz for grooming and supplies only (Jl. Benda, Kemang)
Health issues- things to look out for
The usual issues like keeping up to date with worming and immunisations, ensuring your dog is immunised for rabies. Keep an eye on your dogs overall health by regularly checking their ears, coat and feet. Ideally, keep your dog on a lead when walking as there are ticks prevalent and will help avoid any unfortunate interaction with rubbish or other refuse which may make your dog unwell.
Best place to buy food
Ace hardware is probably the place for best value and also has a good range of other pet accessories.
Pet markets: be mindful that they can be quite confronting.
Volunteering: If you are interested in animal welfare, check out Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) www.jakartaanimalaid.com
Words: Jo Photography: a journey bespoke and Janie Strahle
Kenalkan – means ‘let me introduce’
Pembantu – helper (often referring to housekeeper)