Adam Winkel
Artikel oleh : Adam Winkel
Foto oleh : Adam Winkel
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Pariaman (a neighborhood of Menteng Wadas or Mendas) is locally infamous for their ‘apotik or apothecaries. However, customers don’t go to purchase over-the-counter antidotes for everyday ailments. The ailments are self-induced or a byproduct of home life, the environment, and/or whatever bothers them at that moment. These apotiks provide a rather sinister product of a darker nature to help customers get through whatever ails them; the Pariaman apotiks sell illicit prescription pills. Usually acquired through an inside connection in legitimate pharmaceutical stores, during inventory, the inside connection will write off the number of actual boxes of pills and subtract that from the store’s stock, then take the pills and sell them to contacts (usually, friends) who work in apotiks like those in Pariaman.


The typical ‘apotik’ can usually be described as being half filled with grooming and self-care products and being half filled with a variety of pills in the backroom, usually hidden in boxes of legitimate medicine. Not only is this to validate their business and attract other customers aside from those just in search of ‘medication’ but also most of the time, this is also to hide from the police or random raids of these types of apotiks. From younger junior high school students all the way up to grown adults, the apotiks of Pariaman sell to anybody who holds the real number one medicine: money.


In the daytime, the apotik functions normally as any other store in the area would by selling shampoo, soap, toothpaste, hair dye etc. The only difference being that in the daytime (and more popularly night time), these apotiks also sell H5, Alprazolam, Riklona, Calmlet and a number of other pills to dull the brain from everything going on around.


An illicit list of uppers and downers for sale include Tramadol, Xanax, and Dumolid (to name a few). Sellers sit behind their counters calmly watching television while puffing on clove cigarettes as many youths of surrounding areas make stops of less than a minute to the apotiks, looking for a boost to keep them going from a pre-existing rush or instead, a calming sensation and come down that these pills can provide. With a budget of Rp. 25 000, a person can get very ‘medicated’ from the pills of Pariaman.


The numbers of people drawn in to the apotik is such due to the cheap prices that the apotik sell the pills at (one of the more dangerous but cheaper pills costing at only Rp.1500 a pill). The other big plus that the customers of the Pariaman shops look at is the fact that no official doctor’s papers or prescriptions are required for them to buy pills there, the only paper that matters is what comes out of their wallets.


I remember my friend Budi saying: “Wah, gila ya Le, dulu tuh kalo udh kena Riklona, ga ada rasa takut gue ama siapapun, asli siapapun gue ributin”

(It’s crazy, Le. Back in the day, when I took Riklona, I had no fear towards anyone; I would have fought literally anyone).


Although consumption of prescription pills is existent in almost every age group, it seems to be that the most dominant age group of all are young people from the ages of 14-20. Unfortunately, this is something that has been taking storm amongst junior/senior high school students for a number of years now. Those who are using the pills are typically using them to stay awake for studying, as a means to get high with friends, or like Budi, to help them be braver and fearless in tawuran (fights) with rival schools.


For a community that was virtually apotik-less a decade ago, the trend of popping pills has come along in storm from the need to get high and feel good but on a budget. When drugs bring a dangerous and heavy connotation to the picture and drinking is expensive, visits to the apotiks that sell the various types of pills and taking the ‘obat’ (medicine) itself become the more viable option.


It is sadly ironic how the arches that stand at the edges of Pariaman read ‘Selamat Jalan, Terima Kasih’ (Good Bye, Thank You), almost as if to provide a smile and a cheerful ‘face’ for the boost in the local micro economy. This frequently buzzing street is home to a symbiotic relationship between apotik and ‘pasien’ (patients) where residents turn a blind eye to what goes on in their neighborhood, sometimes even acquiring ‘obat’ themselves.



UPDATE: Pariaman’s apotiks have been shut down as a result of a major police sweep of the area to clear the area from the selling of prescription pills. All the stores have been boarded up and there are no more apotik in the area of Pariaman.

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