Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The good, the bad, and the biasa

Every now and then, when you buy something that's behind a counter, you'll be asked if you want yang biasa or yang bagus: the regular kind or the good kind.

I learned my lesson the first time around, with clothespins: I bought the biasa kind, and most of them fell apart after about two loads of laundry, so I had to go back and buy the good ones.

Yang biasa (left) and yang bagus

I was a bit puzzled, though, to get this question in Surabaya while trying to buy, if you'll pardon the expression, laxatives. Does anyone buy the ordinary kind? Isn't this one case where you really want the best?

(It's a common problem, by the way, for those of us who didn't grow up ingesting large quantities of white rice; the stuff turns to cement in your guts.)


michele said...

are there lots of items that are offered in both "regular" and "good"? would love to hear some other examples.

it reminds me a little of the treatment one can receive when traveling, i.e., the higher price range charged to tourists vs locals. same item, two different prices.

(there used to be a farm stand guy in Alton NH who had a swinging price sign posted over his vegetables. regular sign said "$1.00/pound" but if he pegged you as a tourist he'd swivel the sign to read "tourist price $4.00/pound").

kopisusu2 said...

Batteries come in biasa and bagus, and you definitely want to spring for the best, because I've had the regular ones die in my camera after taking 8 photos in a span of maybe 8 minutes.

And yes, there's also always the possibility of a "bule tax" (white person tax) on anything where the price isn't labeled - which is a lot of things, in Indonesia. I don't worry about it, because things are pretty cheap here anyway, and if you start getting worked up over every rupiah you'll make yourself crazy for no reason.

Love the farm stand sign! It reminds me of a picture someone sent me after the 2004 World Series: it was a billboard outside a store that read "Red Sox Fans 25% off, Yankees Fans F--- off."

elyani said...

I don't know which part of Surabaya do you live right now. I assume you got the "biasa vs bagus" option from the toko or small shops where they normally don't use price tags on each of the items sold there. Try to go to Carrefour, Giant or Alfa SM.

As for batteries, I always use Energizer Lithium. They are very good, more expensive than the regular Energizer e but they last for a long long time. Being cheap, I always take out the batts each time I finish taking the pics and re-install them again when I need them. It may sound impractical but works for me.

If you need energizer lithium..I can find them in Jakarta for you. I promise you wont get the bule tax from me...LOL! :)

elyani said...

The "biasa and bagus" option remind me with my trip to the doctor many moons ago in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta. I came down with a week long bad head cold and was miserable. None of OTC meds work, so I decided to see the GP. I was new in the area and didn't know any good GP so I just followed where the angkot took me.

After several questions the doctor assume that I needed an antibiotic shot. I couldn't think of anything else except that I wanted to get rid of the problem a.s.a.p. But then the doctor asked me this strange question ... "do you want the local / generic antibiotic or the import one"? ... To which I answered, what difference does it make? Well, he said...imagine a telly, there are Black & White TV and there are the Color TV. Huh???? I sternly told him, as long as the TV has pictures to see...I dont care if they are B&W! So I got the generic antibiotic which cost me a lot cheaper than the import one. I have many more silly medical experience which often make me want to punch them right on their nose.

Mary said...

who decides what is the regular kind or the good kind? that's funny. I suppose some of it is obvious, but, I would think in other cases, subjective!

kopisusu2 said...

And indeed, Mary, some things vary in quality over time. I myself am quite good on some days but only ordinary or worse on others!

Elyani, I love the TV metaphor. I wonder if the "black and white" antibiotic also tends to be staticky and have problems with its antenna.

mr_john said...

Unfortunately, a lot of the time people get faced with that question in doctor's surgeries when talking about branded medication or generic. A friend of mine first told me about this when his daughter had had a high fever for a couple of days that over-the-counter medication wasn't doing anything for. The "bagus" one was a substantial portion of this guy's monthly income, but the doctor scared him into paying it... That's pretty evil...