My every need attended to

Trip Start Mar 04, 2004
1
25
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Trip End Jul 02, 2005


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Monday, July 5, 2004

Several people have expressed surprise over the life I am currently living in Jakarta, that of a pampered expat. This mostly relates to the fact that while I am here and housesitting I have an entire household staff at my disposal. This is something I still find incredible and every now and then still sit back and think "Holy Crap is someone actually willing to wait outside work for me for 8 hours just to drive me home??" Actually its entirely commonplace for even middle class professionals to have household staff here, its part of the Indonesian culture. However, for most Westerners, especially shoestring backpackers like myself the concept is almost too much to believe. To further understanding of this strange micro-universe I find myself in I thought I would give an account of a typical day in Jakarta for me with a focus on the way Annie, Wynn, Ibu Patmi and Haryanto affect my life.

7am Wake up in air-conditioned room and go to shower. Leave laundry in bathroom for Annie or Wynn, the nannies/maids to pick up later.

715am Pick out what to wear to work from folded and hung clothes that the nannis have put there for me.

730am Go down to breakfast. My place is already set and coffee is ready to go. I add chocolate milk, sugar and almost syrup to make a very nice morning pick me up. I ask Annie for eggs and toast with peanut butter and jam and it miraculously appears before me. I say "Terima Kasih Annie!"

8am I climb into the middle seats of the family mini-van while Haryanto gets into the drivers seat. I get him to put on Linkin Park then pull out my book. Its only 10km to saya kantor (my office) but it takes 1.5 hours in the macet (traffic jams) so I pull out a book on understanding the stock market and read.

830am Stopped at a traffic jam Haryanto buys a paper off a young boy. Haryanto knows he will have a long wait for me while I am at work.

930 I go into the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (www.csis.or.id) for my day at the office. Haryanto goes to sleep for the next 7 or so hours. This suits him just fine as he saves on gas and is awake at night so he can watch every Euro 2004 game. He was rooting for Portugal.

3pm I call Ibu Patmi the housekeeper to confirm that I will be home for dinner and that I would like Beef Rendang with coconut rice, a salad and if possible could she whip up some chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Perfect. I used to think her name was Ibupatmi till I found out that Ibu means Mother in Bahasa Indonesia.

5pm I climb into the van for the ride home. Another 1.5 hours of reading. I also joke a lot with Haryanto. He speaks a bit of English and I speak a bit of Indonesian. This results in many hilarious exchanges, with both of us talking louder and in higher pitched voices to get our point across. He tells me when his days off are and I tell him that I will need him to drive me to an all-night club and wait for me that night. He hunches his shoulders, squints, and waves his hand at me, "Noooo Meeeeeesttterrrr!!" He knows I'm kidding, but then I say, "Saya Sopir!" which means I will drive myself. Then he really flips cause he knows damn well I am not allowed to drive the van, owing to the fact that I don't have an international driver's license.

630pm I go into my room and see that my bed has been made for me and new laundy is laid on the bed.

7pm After checking my email and maybe writing a travelogue I go down to dinner. I sit down at the TV for dinner which is excellent as always. And sure enough, there are chocolate chip cookies too. How cool is that? None of the household staff ever eats with me. This may have something to do with my mangling of their language in my attempt to learn a bit of Bahasa Indonesia. However, Sasha the German shepard is my constant companion. Its awesome to have a big dog like her around to play with. The household staff are Muslim so they aren't allowed to let Sasha touch them. Of course, this means I frequently roll Sasha's bone in their direction...

8pm In the van once again, this time to head down to the strip of bars known as Blok M. Once there Haryanto sits and waits for me while I catch up with the owner and some of the regulars who now treat me like I have been living in Jakarta for 3 years instead of 3 weeks. I see Jason, a Aussie friend of mine in the bar with his Indonesian fiancee Maria. I realize its going to be a ripper of a night and head outside to tell Haryanto to go home to his wife and Euro 2004 cause I will get a taxi home. He's stoked and peals out of there while I head back into the bar.

There is lots more to say about Jakarta as a city but I will leave that for another post. I hope this has given you an idea of the expat lifestyle here in Jakarta. The whole thing seems surreal at first but you get used to it pretty fast. Frankly, its essential to have a driver in Jakarta because of the terrible traffic. Imagine if you lost 3 (at least) productive hours a day because you were driving yourself. Not to mention that Jakarta's streets are almost impossible to navigate to newcomers.
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