WE CONTINUE THE TALE OF THE FIVE ADVENTURESOME EXPATS IN JAKARTA
Once again, the dramatis personæ:
- Droll Paul, very tall and very droll, a crooked English entrepreneur on the run from the authorities in Perth. A very leisurely Australian run actually, having to do with an awkward misunderstanding, one which could conceivably be interpreted as “fraud” were it unfortunate enough to be brought up in a court of law. Snooty, elegant and condescending, as well. Has a long bule nose and a management firm striving to impart mysterious advanced western corporate techniques to unsuspecting Indonesian start-ups [aka ‘marks’]. Looks down that long nose on the whole wide world. Basically a useless fuckwit selling useless shit. A ‘character’ (these are common in the East – particularly in Seminyak, where they are always trying to one-up each other). The others tolerate Paul, in spite of his manner – or rather, his lack of them). Why? Only God knows. Maybe just for fun.
- Alan. Fresh, sweet, smart, fun Alan. He survived an insane Chinese-Indonesian gambling addict who attempted to have him killed for insurance money and a grinding ESL-teaching job at Bank Qabur. After that trial by fire he’ll do fine, rolling with the punches.
- Lulu is knocking them back. She is what is known in the trade as a ‘serious drinker’. However, she is a solid citizen who pays her own way, tips the waitress fatly is entertaining and an all-around rewarding customer who knows how to hold her grog. She’s been married and divorced in Kuwait and married and divorced in Kazakhstan and married and divorced in California to a serial line of [immensely wealthy] dummies, lambs she has shorn neatly in divorce court. Is she on the lookout for a new hubby in blissfully unaware Indonesia? Not likely, as by now with the alimony she’s scraped off the hides of her various exes she could buy and sell just about all of the candidates. Watch her when she folds her folding money and stashes it in her purse: it’s frightening. So what’s she doing here? Oh she loves Indonesia. And it loves her (duit).
- Brett is bad and he knows it. He grew up in a bad family living in a bad part of town. He likes Indonesia because folks here just assume a grumpy whitey is a bule gila and tolerate his moods. He actually tries to put a hold on ‘the Bad’ because otherwise sooner or later he’d be grabbed by the collar and given the bum’s rush out of Indonesia toot sweet. But he’s bad. Nobody likes him. Secretly, he envies everybody else, because they’re happy and he’s not. But don’t expect him to show it. Brett is currently >ahem< ‘out of work’ (but everybody knows he’s a notorious Remittanceman) (‘stay-away-for-pay’).
- Hiroshi. First import-export… then ‘event organizing’… then ‘management consulting’ for shady Japanese companies… no one was quite sure what purpose the smooth, handsome Japanese man, 40 and looking 14, served in life. Hiroshi was always expensively-dressed, drove a luxury European car, and was a polite and careful listener. He met personal questions with a beaming smile, and not much else.
Tasty grub & potent grog are promptly ordered from the rich Ya Udah Bistro menu.
THE ‘EXPERIMENTAL ANIMAL’ EXPAT PATIENT
‘The issue, darlings, is Quality Control / Quality Assurance’
PART TWO OF FOUR
‘Anybody know a good dentist?’ asks Paul mournfully, fiddling with a loose incisor. The thought of parting with good money for a bad tooth fills him with sorrow. The Yaudah Bistro fills him with steak, sausage, mashed potatoes and heavy beer. That takes care of the sorrow.
‘If we didn’t like you so much’ rumbles Brett, ‘we could highly recommend you pay a visit to the Nazi Torturer.’
All the rest of the crew laughs it up. They all seem to know which Jakarta dental clinic was being referred to.
‘We have each and every one been subject to their clumsy, painful and pricey ministrations’ howls Lulu, ‘but we survived. Barely.’
Hiroshi, normally quiet, pipes up. ‘Oh yes. I was there. In person. Quite the experience. He hits a nerve, hard – BANG – you just about launch into orbit from the pain.’
‘The good Doctor – let us call him Wi Tu Lo, just to be on the safe side – looks puzzled and a little annoyed. Just to be sure of the cause-and-effect relationship he jabs the nerve again.
…go the pain receptors. The patient’s knuckles are white and his face turning purple.
‘The good doctor nods again. He didn’t feel any pain.
‘Doctor Nyonya Nazi Torturer comes in. She is also a high-priced, experienced and famed Jakarta dentist. Think Ilse Koch, with a high-speed drill in her hand. She dispenses agony merrily, but feels nothing.
‘The patient, in a daze, hears the dentist drone on and on in English: “That Bentley out there? It’s the Vice-Director of Engineering at Pertamina. He makes seven hundred dollars a month but can somehow afford a two million dollar British car.
‘“His driver is arguing over a parking space with the angry short woman. She’s the wife of a retired General close to the Bapak. Those are Very Important People. My patients. Important.” (Unfortunately he pronounces it ‘impotent’).
‘“I even invite them to my villa up in Puncak” he smirks, as his patient writhes in agony, “to see my prize peacocks and geese – no, swans you call them.”
‘Meanwhile, dog-faced rich woman is screaming at a driver to move his ugly Cadillac Escalade. The driver is busy polishing the car, and ignores her, on the advice of a mean-looking heavy in sunglasses, with an earpiece. Heavy gives the woman a dazzling smile but does nothing.
‘Stop-a-clock-ugly rich lady flounces off, planning revenge. For a parking space.
Alan makes his contribution. ‘I even got serviced by the Nazi Torturer Doctor son – also a dentist and a graduate of a foreign school. Equally incompetent, expensive and rough. They’re a gruesome threesome.
‘He said “I want to try a six-tooth bridge on your lower jaw”. Please take note of the word “try”. I was thinking “I’m paying these prices to be an experimental animal for this fat fellow?”’
Brett nods. ‘The correct answer to that question is “Yes, you are.” He wants to try something out on you and if it works he’ll give it a go for a really important corrupt official.’
Alan: ‘He could have saved his trouble. It rocked.’
Paul butts in. ‘Six-tooth bridge? I never heard of such a thing. Of course it would rock.’
‘I trust you eventually got satisfaction’ Lulu says, mock-seriously. ‘Of course I’m joking.’
‘How do they stay in business?’ asks Paul, with genuine curiosity, ‘if they are so rough and incompetent?’
‘Everybody goes to them, so everybody else thinks they have to go to them as well,’ sighs Hiroshi, shrugging. ‘Like one of those horrible Paris Michelin star restaurants, where the food is cold and old, the service sneering and slow, and the bill astronomical. You go there because Princess Di and her sleazy greaseball Arab boyfriend went there the night before their big smash-up.’
‘What a shitshow that was’ muses Lulu. ‘Why wasn’t the woman home taking care of her grown children instead of humping that wastrel Arab?’
‘Well that’s how the Mercedes bends’ Alan smiled, philosophically.
‘That’s a horrid pun, Paul. You’ve made me lose my appetite.’ She reaches for a tall beer and a handful of crispy onion rings. ‘Well almost lose it.’
[TO BE CONTINUED]