Pandemic Diary: The Philosophy of “Tahu Bulat”

“Bulat bulat lonjong lonjong

Tahu bulat dan kosong

Digoreng dadakan

Hangat hangat

Enak enak enakkk....”

That is exactly what you can hear around Jakarta when you see a motorbike with a small truck behind it, where a guy usually holds a spatula to fry round-shaped tofu in a huge pan.

They are mobile and moving from one spot to another, which needs lower business cost than setting up a fixed business establishment.

It’s a smart way to get away from the government and local ‘preman’ (an unemployed guy whose job is to offer a false sense of ‘security’ and charge money for this unsolicited service).

You can find these repeated voices of a man in narrow streets between tiny houses around the megapolitan.

The lines can be roughly interpreted as belows:

“Round and oval

Round and hollow tofu

Fried on the spot

Warm warm

Delicious delicious delicious…”

It is so hard to forget the lines even after hours.

Totally screw my mind and sanity.

I am not anti grassroot economy movement.

They are of course warriors during this economic malaise.

They are microbusiness folks that prove they can survive the pandemic storm.

But if you want to solemnly analyze the lyrics, they tell you something about what this nation is really.

They are round, which means they roll easily right and left, back and forward.

That is just the nature of a round object.

They swing too easily unlike boxes.

It’s a nation of inconsistency.

You can tell how the law treats justice seekers.

How the bureaucrats say something and what you find in reality is another thing.

They are also hollow, or empty deep inside.

This nation is looking for things to fill themselves in with something after they throw their own identities.

Dadakan“, meaning instant, reflects the mentality of the people and the regime.

Everyone seems to be willing to be famous quick, make money quick on social media.

Hardly anyone is willing to give a full dedication to hard and smart work.

And everyone wants to make a huge sum of money without even paying for the cost. (*/)

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