What a Stranger Taught Me

It was a quite impulsive plan. My mom and I went to Petak 9 to buy some things. We got there around 9.30 AM, and the first thing popped in my mind was having breakfast at Es Kopi Tak Kie. 

It should be another ordinary Sunday, but no 🙂 We were lucky enough to sit at the only round table at the coffee shop. Why? Because it was too crowded, and there was this super friendly old man who offered us to sit together with him. We talked a lot, one thing to another, and he told us that he always comes there everyday and sit at the very same spot, where he and his tea-drinkers ‘small gang’ usually spend their morning tea time together, always at Tak Kie. This morning tea time routine has been going on for decades, where they talk and leave all the problems behind just to sip a cup of Chinese tea with some friends. He said that we should be proud to have a chance to sit there. Well, we are!

While we were having our breakfast, he offered us to have a cup of Chinese tea. He then continued to talk about how this place has never been renovated, and how the owner is super picky on choosing the right tea to drink, and how he always teases the owner because they’re both old already. I saw how this man threw his crumpled tissue paper to the owner’s back, and shouting “You stingy old man!” and they both laughed out loud afterwards. So funny.

Mom and I looked at the photos hanging on the wall, there is some Jokowi’s pictures hanging in there having  a cup of tea with…. wait! with this man we’ve been talking to for hours! “He’s such a down-to-earth man. I like him, Mr. President came here twice and drank tea with us,” he said.

The talk goes on and on for the next one hour….



All I know is I feel so happy to spend my 1 hour time with this old man. I don’t know why but he’s just too kind, his face is full of smile, his mind is full of topics to talk about. I never met him before but all I feel is so comfortable to sit and talk about almost everything.

I believe there’s no such thing as a coincidence, and to meet him this morning is another lesson for me to learn.What I learn from him is be kind and be friendly to strangers. This really pinched me right in my arms, because as a non-sanguine type of person I find it’s always hard to smile or even to start talking with new people. Sometimes I have this judgemental feeling, and shyness overcome at another time.

Imagine how my breakfast would be if I had to sit with someone who’s unfriendly. It would be so awkward, and mom & I might just end up with having breakfast and moved our assess asap to run away from this awkward round table.

This old man taught me to never hold myself to always say hello first, learn to never be afraid to start a new conversation. It’s simply for the sake of friendliness, and by this, we will have a new chance to recognize a new soul and to learn more about other people. He never stopped asking about our life, our point of view on particular things, our place back home. Also, he told us a lot about what’s really going on everyday at Tak Kie, about Jakarta, about government, business, friendship, and of course about Chinese tea.

What he did to us basically reminds me of what Jessica Hagy taught on her book  “How to be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps)”, a great book I’ve been reading on. It’s the willingness to be open and listen to other’s interests, and about the willingness of sharing what you know to people you just met. This is like a gentle reminder for me to start growing a warm and friendly heart to new people, because the warmest people are the best.

To the old man who taught me this, thank you Om!


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