Beware of dark immigrants

Monday, 23 November 2009
Jakarta, Indonesia

Last week I went to the local immigration office here in East Jakarta to complete the paperwork of my visa extension. The office is located in a dirty and depressing area of the city, next to a huge high-security prison surrounded by high walls, double fences and razor wire. Drug convicts are held here (Jakarta is flooding with drugs, some of the biggest ecstasy factories in the world are hidden in warehouses around Jakarta).

Time was spent filling out several forms (with a lot of redundant information), photographs taken, fingerprints taken (all 10 fingers, strangely enough not my toes), “What am I doing here?”, “No, you can’t use blue pen, use black”, “No, the signature must be written across duty stamp”, etc.

I then proceeded to pay the visa extension fee at the cashier (Rp 250k), and while waiting in line I was a bit puzzled when I noticed a poster (check out the picture below) proclaiming as follows (translated):

– Terrorists
– Dark immigrants
– Trafficking in children and women
– Passport forgery

I am glad I am a white immigrant!

Well, the truth is, it was later explained to me that “gelap” can also mean “illegal”, not only “dark”. Just another reminder that the same Indonesian word can have several different meanings, depending on the context…

Dark immigrants

Beware of dark immigrants.

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