I met Roze during our groups expedition for a shop to print the stickers we needed as a prop for the parade. He is a 30-year-old Indonesian man and spends most of his time in Java, Indonesia. Roze comes to Ambon often as he runs a clove oil business which sells well in Ambon, he also thoroughly enjoys the friendly people and has family here as well. His attitude towards smoking was very intriguing as he stated, “I realise it’s bad for me”, although being a large part of Indonesian culture it’s a hard habit to quit, as he has tried to do multiple times already. He mentioned that he would go a few weeks without smoking, then a friend would offer him a cigarette, and he would give in instantly.
Being an ex-literature graduate, Roze, was incredibly good at English despite not having spoken the language for over five years. I eagerly began to delve deeper into his clover oil business as I found it interesting that he would start a company such as this with next to zero business experience. Cloves are the flower buds of a commonly found tree native to the Maluku islands, in which Ambon is situated. Roze uses a steaming technique to extract the oils from the cloves and sell it in its purest form. The plants are grown and processed back in Java and then distributed in Ambon, he is currently very small scale; growing, transporting, labelling and distributing the oils himself. With his amazing salesman technique, he explained that clove oil has many medicinal benefits like numbing pains such as; tooth or even muscle aches.
A major reason I found this so intriguing is clove is the main spice Indonesians use in their cigarette of choice, Kretek. Over 95% of the cigarettes that are sold in Indonesia are Kretek cigarettes, which contain around 25% clove spice to 75% tobacco. This means clove farmers have a multitude of options for their product, other than for cigarettes. Clove oil, although used extensively especially in Indonesia, doesn’t have the full research to scientifically back up most claims, meaning people are still sceptical of the benefits it possesses. As tobacco consumption reduces, hopefully, in Indonesia, more farmers will turn to producing and exporting spices such as clove. This would be a great opportunity as clove oil is scarcely available and expensive in most western areas.
Fig. 1: Pamela. (2018). Best Plants for Mind, Body and Soul pt. 2: Cloves, Psychics.com, Viewed 31 January, 2019. < https://www.psychics.com/blog/cloves-best-plants-mind-body-soul/ >
One thought on “Post C: Interview with Roze”
It’s insane that because of the numbing properties of clove, people believe Kreteks are ‘healthier’ for them since they don’t feel the same sensation in the throat that they’d get from normal cigarettes. Kreteks are also a huge contribution to the Indonesian people’s ‘right to smoke’ as it’s seen as a national heritage item!! It would be amazing if Indonesians could overcome the pride for their tobacco industry and embrace pride for their spice industry, but it would take a relentless effort to instigate such a huge cultural change.