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Jakarta Post

Train worker returning phone becomes international news

  • Callistasia Anggun Wijaya
    Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, October 18, 2016   /  07:41 pm
Train worker returning phone becomes international news Greater Jakarta commuter train maintenance staff-cum-train enthusiast Syahri Rochmat (left) and Shota Noda pose for a picture during Syahri's visit to Japan in August this year. (Courtesy of Syahri Rochmat/File)

The touching story of Syahri Rochmat, 24, a maintenance worker at PT KAI Commuter Jabodetabek (KCJ), returning a lost phone to its Japanese owner has come under international spotlight.

This sweet story of cross cultural friendship was first published on Japan News, the English language media of Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun group. Later Singapore’s The Straits Times picked up the story and local media followed suit on Tuesday.

Depok resident Syahri said it all started in December 2015, when he was cleaning the interior of a used train from Japan. He found a small pouch containing a cell phone and a Japanese identity card under a bench.

“I secured the phone and told my Japanese friend, whom I knew from Twitter, to find the owner of the cell phone," Syahri told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. 

After seeing the ID, his friend called Yokohama University, which was attended by the owner. Without result, his friend told him to just throw away the phone because it could not be used in Indonesia. Syahri did not want to give up and asked his friend what was the  phone owner’s name because he could not read Japanese, which was Shota Noda.

Syahri tried to find Noda's account via Twitter but his struggle came to no avail as most accounts of Japanese users use Japanese characters. 

He tried to find Noda in Facebook and luckily found him, thanks to the profile picture, which looked like the photo on the ID card.

By using Google Translate, Syahri sent a message in English to Noda and informed him that he had found his cell phone. Shota replied afterwards by asking Syahri to send back his phone to Japan.

Considering the expensive fee to send goods to Japan, Syahri told Noda to send some money to him for the delivery. However, Noda left Syahri's request unanswered for some time. 

Read also: Lost phone in commuter train sparks Jakarta-Tokyo friendship

In March, Noda told Syahri that his friend would come to Jakarta to pick up his phone. However, his mission to return the phone remained unaccomplished as Syahri who waited at Manggarai station from morning until 9 p.m. that day, could not find Noda's friend.

In the seven months since Syahri first made contact with Noda, the two maintained their correspondence via Facebook messenger. The topic of conversation was always about the lost phone.

In July, Noda decided to retrieve his phone by visiting Jakarta himself.

On July 27, they finally met. Syahri recalled Noda's face, which seemed puzzled, as he could not believe that he was getting his phone back after such a long time. 

"Noda asked me why I didn't sell the phone. I told him, its selling price was not that high and I also could not use the phone in Indonesia," he said. 

To show his gratitude, Noda gave Syahri an ID card holder with a picture of Syahri’s favorite AKB48 member, Mayu Watanabe. 

Syahri reciprocated the gift by giving Noda a T-shirt with the picture of an old Japanese train he designed himself. He said he was a railway enthusiast who once had an ambition to be a train machinist like his late father and brother. “I didn’t reach that ambition though,” he said.

A warm friendship between them was established after that. Noda even accompanied Syahri when he visited Tokyo in August this year. 

Their friendship became news across the internet and Noda then also made Indonesian Facebook friends with railway enthusiasts similar to Syahri.

“This smartphone and new friendship are precious to me,” Noda said as quoted by Japan News. (evi)

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