My Jakarta: Sriyono, Yo Pink Siomay Vendor
It’s been three years since Sriyono’s seen either of his two daughters. But every day he wakes up at 3 a.m. and throws on a pink shirt, pink shoes and pink shorts because it’s the favorite color of his eldest daughter, Peski Safria.
He hopes that word spreads and the attention he attracts through Yo Pink, his traveling siomay business, will bring his daughters back to him.
You might be able to help Sriyono, who went from clearing over $200,000 a year to sleeping in a bus shelter. It’s his youngest daughter’s birthday today. So if you know any 10-year-old girls blowing out candles today point them in the direction of Jalan Gandaria Tengah in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. There’s a dad there who would like to give his little girl a hug.
Lets start with the obvious, why pink?
It’s my eldest daughter’s favorite color. Actually, my wife and I are divorced and I haven’t seen my kids in three years.
Maybe one day, news of the guy dressed all in pink and selling siomay will reach them and we can be reunited.
My in-laws told my kids I was dead. I don’t even know if they know I’m alive.
So, how many pink shirts do you have?
I have 34 pink shirts, 18 pairs of pink shorts, 12 pink hats, 3 pink watches, 3 pairs of pink glasses, pink braces, a pink earring and six pairs of pink shoes.
Have you always sold siomay here on Jalan Gandaria Tengah?
I’ve been doing this since the 1980s … before that even.
From 1982 to 1996 I sold siomay on a bike, but in ’96 I opened my own outlet in Plaza Senayan.
Then there was the problem with my wife and the business folded.
I couldn’t pay the rent so we had to close.
After that I started selling siomay with friends in a new business venture.
But that went bankrupt too and I ended up sleeping in the busway shelter and a mosque in Senayan.
Wow. Then what happened?
Someone at the mosque was kind enough to give me money to start a new business.
I went with siomay again.
But I decided to sell it at Pasar Raya [Blok M].
But the location was no good and I lost everything again.
That was last year. But here I am. I made it work.
I’m back selling siomay. And this time it seems to be working [smiles].
Do you remember when you fell in love with siomay?
It was 1969.
I’d moved here from Klaten, Central Java, to find a job, which I did. I was selling cars.
But I just fell in love with siomay. I was a car salesmen until the late 1970s, but eventually I decided to pursue my true love.
I met a guy from Bangka who had a siomay business.
So I worked for him for a year, for free, so I could learn everything there was about siomay.
Then the guy from Bangka passed away, and he didn’t have any family so I took over the business.
How can one guy love siomay that much?
What I like most about siomay is that there’s potatoes, tofu and cabbage in it.
All the cheapest ingredients in the market come together to make a delicacy.
How old are your daughters?
My oldest daughter was born on 9/9/99 and my other girl’s birthday is December 15. She was born in 2000.
You’re pretty popular on Twitter. Ever think about getting a BlackBerry and keeping all your fans updated on where you are?
I refuse to own a BB. As soon as I get one and start tweeting where I am the novelty will wear off.
I want people to come and find me.
I like the fact that everyone is curious about the guy that wears all pink and sells siomay in Kebayoran Baru.
People think that me wearing pink is so fascinating. To me it’s just a color.
What’s your daily routine?
I get up at 2 or 3 a.m. so I can go to the market and buy fish. I make everything from scratch.
You know, the old man I learned how to make siomay from, he always used pork.
I was the first guy in Jakarta to use fish.
When that’s done I come here and I sell siomay from around 10 a.m. to around 6 p.m. or whenever I run out.
Do you come to the same location every day?
Yep. I’ll probably be here until at least the end of the year.
Then after that I’ll move somewhere else. Just keep an eye out for me and the Yo Pink bike.