I was a junior staff for political Affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Tokyo at that time (1997). I had Just arrived in the country a couple of days before. I felt that it was an encouraging moment to me being part of the Embassy’s family. I was sure I would encounter so many challenging tasks and circumstance there. And one of the challenging task was then eventually came
One day my Superior asked me to accompany H.E. Ambassador Hasyim Djalal during his 3-day official visit in Japan to attend an international conference on the Law of the Sea-related matters. When I asked my superior what I should do, he explained to me that I should be with Mr. Djalal in any situation. My jobs were to assist, to explain, to provide, to facilitate, to guide and to accompany him in his needs.
The first day of my said jobs was to escort him to the conference venue. I knew the place the day before when an Embassy’s driver, named Belfry, guided me there and told me that the venue was very famous and important to know. It was multi-functions venue for so many occasions both nationally and internationally. For that one, I felt lucky. The unlucky one was that there was no driver available to help me drive Mr. Djalal to the venue. Every driver had already been occupied.
I was in a situation. Without any driver I should carry on to accompany Mr. Djalal to the venue. We were in a precondition that “the show must go on”. I drove Mr. Djalal myself carefully and with confidence. While I drove, I kept on memorizing the way to go there like I did with Belfry the driver before. Eventually, we get there successfully. Mr. Djalal expressed his delighted feelings ... I did not tell him that previously I had ever come to that place lead by a driver. That was my trick..
In the evening, after the conference finished, Mr. Djalal called me to pick him up. I went there easily like the way I did in the morning. A disaster happened when I drove him back from the conference venue to the office. Unintentionally, I took a wrong direction and got lost. And after quite some times, I still couldn’t get on the right path. I felt like I was in the jungle with nobody I could ask. Likewise, I could not read japanese characters. While I was in the middle of uncertainty, Mr Djalal curiously asked me, “Pak Djatmiko, are we on the right path?”
“Yes Pak.. we are okay. What’s wrong?” I replied
“Well, I am just curious. I don’t think this route is the same with the previous one, the way we came to the conference venue this morning.” He explained.
“No Pak.! You are right, this route is different. I am intentionally going through this route, the other route, which is longer, in order to show you around, the Tokyo at night..” Suddenly I got the idea to excuse.
“Oh. Ok. I thought you got lost.” He reasoned.
“No Pak..I am doing fine.” I said pretending.
I continued on driving without knowing which direction I should head to. What a terrible situation I was in. So as to find solution, I recalled all my memories. I prayed, and prayed to Allah to help me. Actually, I was very worried but I should conceal it. And... all of a sudden, I remembered what the driver Belfry ever told me when we were hanging around in the city several days before. He gave me a tip on how to find a direction to the office when we were in lost.
“Just look at where the Tokyo Tower is located, Pak Djatmiko. It is not difficult, becuase the tower is high and very visible. You just go there.. and from there you could easily proceed to the office. I will show you the route from the Tower to the office.” That was the message he delivered to me at that time. And off course, I still kept that route in my mind, from the tower to the office..
Yess.! That was it.! God be praised.. Alhamdulillaah! I could see the tower from the distance and I drove there passionately. When we arrived at the tower, I said to Pak Djalal. “This is the so-called Tokyo Tower Pak”
To my surprise, he calmly replied, “Yes I know. I had been here many times..” Oh my Godness, I felt embarassed. No need for Mr. Djalal to be informed because he was more knowledgable about Tokyo than me.
Afterwards, he exclaimed jokingly to me, “Pak Djatmiko, since you are still new here, actually I feel like I am accompanying you more than you are showing me around.. So, now, the question is have you found the direction? From this Tower?”
I didn’t believe what I heard. It seemed Mr. Djalal had already read my mind by asking that question. I fervently replied, “Yes Pak. I have. Tokyo Tower is the landmark.. and from here to the office is not so far, I am familiar already”
“Ok. Good. It’s normal for everybody to learn something new. Don’t worry, I understand.. You are not the driver and you are also still new here”.
That was it. My first experience as a mislaid driver in a new great cosmopolitan city of Tokyo.