Budiman's the man for your kebaya

For me, at least, it was – a form of jalan-jalan that is, a break from the monotony of the everyday routine. But we were not on foot; we were onboard an SUV making our way from Bestari, a boutique tailor specializing in the the national costume of Indonesia especially the sexy kebaya. It was in a part of Bekasi, in the Galaxy area, and its dummy models clad in exquisite kebayas for all kinds of occasions carried an air of elegance and that tacit insinuation that you’d be the star of the night in their tailor-perfect ensemble.

Pricey was the overall conclusion of my companions who, apparently, had already gone to another tailor who could do the same job – sew the bustier, the diaphanous top over the bustier and the elaborate design on the collar. It made me wonder why they brought me there in the first place. But, just the same, it was a good jalan-jalan – I wouldn’t have entered the place if I didn’t have any need to wear a kebaya. The boutique tailor was spacious enough to accommodate their several models garbed in kebaya, a fitting room and a waiting room. Business was brisk as clients walked in and out of the shop.

Through the interstices of Bekasi we negotiated the narrow roads and alleys to get to their chosen tailor before closing time.

“We’re going to my tailor,” explained Ibu Sandra, “which is just a few minutes away from my house. I don’t just go to any tailor. I must have chemistry with him. Also, he came from a boutique tailor so the quality is good.”

Tell Budiman what you want and he'll get it right

Budiman was our man for our kebaya. Small in frame and short in height, he could easily pass off as a junior high school student except that you know he isn’t because of the tape measure around his neck and the ease he chatted with Ibu Sandra, his loyal customer. His is not a boutique – there are no glass doors to go through. You simply walk up to the counter cum work table. To the right, the customer’s right, is the work area, the hum of the sewing machine floating through the air without hampering the conversation of client and tailor. Two men are in the work area – one seemingly on a break while the other bent down on his machine, feet working the pedal, his hands and eyes going up and down inspecting a sleeve of someone’s kebaya.

He’s soft spoken, asking you to turn right, stretch out your arms to the side and turn left in a tone that was mellow, not monotonous, as he took your measurements. Conversation, of course, was done in Bahasa Indonesia, which was quickly translated to English for me.

Sewing to perfection

He doesn’t ask for a down payment of which is far from what I’m accustomed to. He hands you the receipt itemizing the job orders and the amount and tells you the  fitting is next week. The total price is a third of what Bestari was charging! Adding a tinge of pleasantness about the whole experience, at the outset, was when Ibu Sandra told him the reason for our presence, Budiman quickly whipped out his catalogues of design without looking put upon, offering suggestions or flipping through the pages looking for what was requested, unlike the lady in Bestari. The latter wasn’t haughty, but there was this behavior communicated that she wouldn’t go beyond the required minimum service. Hers was a matter of calculation, which she recited without skipping a beat. Every piece sewn at Bestari totted up, on hindsight, to three full kebayas from Budiman! And, to think, you’re providing your own cloth!

Bekasi is no tourist destination but it has its high points. One, a tailor is within your reach if you know where to go. Second, the malls – although still not within the league of the malls in Jakarta – are beginning to spruce up their acts to entice the local residents. It reminded me of the heartland malls in Singapore where they’ve spruced them up so that people will think twice of going to Orchard to shop unless they’re  looking for a specific up market brand. One of the malls in Bekasi that’s finally stepping up its game is Cyber Park for a pleasant weekend or end-of-the-workday jalan-jalan.

Bite into freshly baked pizza

A cinema is operating now in Cyber Park but I haven’t been there. Trips to Bandung and around the city are possible with Cipaganti shuttles and cabs through its office located after McDonald’s. Meanwhile, its food and beverage selections are becoming varied. Gloria Jean’s hadn’t moved out, but only relocated to the second floor in between the food center and Hartz Chicken Buffet restaurant. Dunkin Donuts still has its followers; a bakery with a franchise of New Zealand ice cream is open for business; Baskin and Robbins is another choice for ice cream lovers; and Bumbu Desa is still a choice for lunch or dinner. Giving pizzas a run, especially Pizza Hut, is the newly opened Domino’s Pizza sitting right before Solaria, a local restaurant. Like Singaporeans who fancy new food places, local residents have been trooping to Domino’s for small (6”), medium (10”) and large (14”) pizzas washed down with coca-cola, fanta or sprite. I personally tried the small Veggie Fiesta and a box of chicken wings with barbecue sauce.

To a tailor or a new pizza joint, I’ve always fancy jalan-jalan. It keeps away the cabin fever and lets me discover something new bit by bit about where I am.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by zsantyzsanty on August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am

    may i know the address Budiman tailor? tq


    • Posted by rgarcellano on August 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Hi there. I’ve asked my colleague and she said she’ll give it to me asap. I’ll pass it on to you once I have the information. Cheers


    • Posted by rgarcellano on August 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      The address is Jalan Cikunir Raya. The contact number is 085718697759. Cheers


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