Archive for the ‘Expat foibles’ Category

Details are only now emerging of an incident at the RSC 9-a side hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur a couple of weekends ago, with the matter going unreported in the Malaysian press and a wall of silence being established until last evening by the International Sporting Club of Indonesia‘s (ISCI) participants.

Fortunately, our indefatigable Blok-M stringer was on the spot late last night earning his per diem in Sportsmans Bar where a few of the ISCI boys were exuberantly celebrating a hard earned 3-2 victory at Senayan over a strong and determined University Al-Azhar HC.

According to what our semi-sloshed stringer thought he overheard, the problem started when the ISCI team tried to enter, en masse, one of the dodgy girly bars on Bukit Bintang. Several of the expats had already entered when two of the team’s Indonesian players were refused entry on the grounds that they were not expats.

Led by burly English central defender Martin “Black Ada” Bates, the expats informed the doormen that unless their Indonesian team mates were let in then they (the doormen) were about to wear a beer or two after which a number of blows were exchanged.

The arrival of the local Pak Polisi minutes later calmed things down somewhat and a triumphant ISCI team were eventually all granted entry by a rather nervous management shortly afterwards, when they partied until being thrown/carried out around 04:00 along with some newly acquired and rather fragrant local supporters.

Job (Sabun) Renkins, former playing hero of ISCI was quoted from his New York office as saying “Unbelievable, nothing has changed, we had the same fucking problem in Bangkok 20 years ago when they wouldn’t let Soy Rondakh in on the grounds that he was “too Asian”” adding, “well done, boys, for standing up for your rights!!”

Team President and one time speedy winger, Allan Kent, said, “it’s ironic that we only came away because the Pak Polisi in Jakarta seemed to be arresting expats on a near daily basis.”. Asked to explain the blanket of “omerta” that had been thrown around the incident, Allan explained that most of  their wives thought they were on a Temple viewing mission to Borobudur but that had all been cleared up now..

Cartagena's Cathedral Tower

Colombia has a reputation for beautiful cities, often with much of their amazing architectural heritage preserved, great beaches, world-class restaurants, gorgeous women and a wild night life not untypical of the whole of South America in fact.

So, what’s not to like? … erm, unfortunately, it is even more famous for being a dangerous place to live, with large swathes of the countryside under the control of really rather nasty Communist insurgent types and/or even nastier drug cartels.

While things have become somewhat better in recent years it is still a destination for the intrepid and not your Mum. Unless you don’t like your Mum of course.

Despite the dangers, it was not to take Jakarta based Kiwi expat, Wony Tud an environmental consultant, too long to come up with the answer “yes” to a recent offer of a relatively short but well remunerated posting there, reluctant though he was to leave behind the flesh pots multi-faceted cultural attractions of Jakarta in general, and Blok M in particular.

Now signed up for the duration as our Central America and Caribbean stringer (he was real cheap – ED), Wony was in the fabulous city of Cartagena on Monday, waiting to mobilise for a dolphin counting mission or some such and sharing a late night sherbet or two with colleagues at Mister Babilla, located on the Avenida del Arsenal (yes, he is a bloody Arsenal supporter but is otherwise reasonably normal – ED). It is here that we hand over the baton to Wony with his firsthand account in this e-mail received in the Editor’s in-box yesterday..

A Flamenco dancer

A Flamenco dancer

“We had been in there for about an hour or so when a couple of smartly dressed guys came in and sat at the table next to us recently vacated by four quite stunning Flamenco dancers. The place is wild, if you can imagine the Jaya Pub on steroids and minus the geriatric band and barmen then you have it.

It was bloody noisy and there were already a few pissed Yanks dancing on the bar, however, I swore I  could hear the guys at the next table speaking Indonesian for Christ’s sake, so I tuned in.

As you know my Indo is passable but not great, however, I picked up enough to know that it was Paddy O’Finnion who had featured ad nauseam in your organ of late as he was talking about shafting a few more GOD functionaries and, strangely, talked about having given the Indonesian Ambassador here a lockbag with his underwear in, apparently a ruse to divert them away from where the “digital stack” really was. BTW, that photo of him you published at Raffles is definitely him!

Anyway, to cut a long story short I phoned my mate in the Central Detective Division in Jakarta and told him where O’Finnion was and, less than an hour later, the local Policia marched in mob handed and had him on the ground and handcuffed faster than you can say Bolivarian Revolution.

He protested long and hard that he wasn’t the O’Finnion they were looking for but rather his younger brother and pleaded with them to check his passport. The Policia were having none of it, however, and took him away where they checked his fingerprints against what they had been sent by Pak Polisi and voila!

Heavy bribe at police headquarters got me a  five minute interview the following morning, sorry, no receipt ED, when Paddy appeared grateful to chat with someone in Indonesian, even if it was mine. He is really very worried that “they” consider knocking him off as the easy way out of the problems he is posing to GOD and BJC (President Bapak Jack Caldwell – ED).

Asked about the “Digital stash” he had given the Ambassador, he laughed and said, “all they will find in the Lockbox if they ever get it open is yesterday’s underwear” adding that “the real deal is still in Jakarta under lock and key and, if I should happen to die on the way back, then a copy will go to every news editor on the planet, it’s all organised”

So, there you have it, the inside story from the NottheJakartaPost‘s man on the spot and indeed his own pivotal role in it. The ramifications are huge of course, not least for BJC and GOD and we will be bringing you our analysis of the implications in full next week.

In the interim we trust that Paddy O’Finnion has a pleasant and safe flight home on the special Garuda flight that has been arranged for him.

Paddy would be very well advised to either “berpuasa” until he gets back here to Jakarta or, better still in view of the two days flight time, take his own food and drink with him.

The buzz around the office water cooler this morning from our local staff was all about something that came in on the wire overnight from Reuters. The source of all the merriment, and disbelief, was one Tom Willard, of Rochester, New York, who has filed a complaint with the US Justice department.

The reason for all the fuss was that Tom is a deaf guy and a nudist park in upstate New York had failed to provide him with a sign language interpreter at its annual festival. To add to the merriment, and the collapse of several stout parties, the wire added that Tom was also suing a local comedy club that had also refused to provide him with his own personal interpreter.

There are days when I thank God that I live in Indonesia, a country that hasn’t gotten around to all this bullshit yet, probably because it can’t afford to. The US has yet to get around to the notion that it can’t afford it either; maybe the Tea party will be of some use after all.

Also causing some amusement with the cooler malingerers was Facebook user Aulan Wapriliani  telling the people over the road that she loves Facebook as her fiancee pokes her every day, “this makes my heart melt” she was quoted as saying. And why not, say we.

Riot police in Kemang looking for Poms

South Jakarta Pak Polisi were out in force in Kemang last evening for the riot that never came. The entire length of Kemang Raya from Fez to Eastern Promise was covered by squads of officers in riot gear prepared for the predicted rioting and looting, with particularly heavy concentrations around EP, Kem Chicks, McDonalds, Roosters, Ranch Market and the Duty Free Shop.

Undeterred, your NtJP reporter bravely made his way to Kemang by way of a taxi that wasn’t a Blue Bird.

Asked for the reason why Pak Polisi were gathered in such large numbers, ranking officer on the ground Commander Budi Buwonobesar told us that the External Monitoring Unit at headquarters on Jl. Sudirman had seen what was going on in London and had ordered contingency plans to be executed in all areas with significant numbers of British expats, including Kemang of course.

Nike - the trainer of choice for experienced looters

Apart from the mid week revellers going about their usual business, all was quiet around midnight, however, and we stopped off at a few places to check out the buzz. A group of very likely looking rioters were in Eastern Promise but turned out to be no more than a bunch of young BIS teachers out on the razzle celebrating their return from annual leave and the upcoming start of term.

One of the BIS teachers, who refused to be named but had a moustache and wore cut-off jeans, sandals and an exquisite diamond stud in his left ear lobe, shared with us that he had just got in from London and was glad to be in a safe country again. Pressed, he admitted that he felt some sympathy for the rioters because of the economic situation back home, but thought that it was “important to understand the distinction between political expression and free trainers”. You always get a good quote from a teacher; that’s why they’re teachers.

As we moved on, Kem Chicks was already long closed of course but we asked one of the SATPAMs on duty if he had seen any riots or looting to which he cleverly replied, “not since Pak Harto left in 1998, Pak”

Finally, we dropped in at Crossroads where we found a couple of young Poms of rioting age and ethnicity playing their 23rd game of pool of the evening who were to happily engage your correspondent in conversation after they had put their cues away for the night.

One of them, Ben from Ealing, said they were both working here in the Stock Exchange building as agents for London Securities Firms and expressed the view that every expat here had a job and felt little need to loot a department store for new trainers, except perhaps those working for the many dodgy language schools in the city.

Bar Manager, Charlie Bali, from Brixton told us that he really would have been up for a bit of a riot this evening as his telly was “on the blink”, however, after a sixteen hour day he really hadn’t felt up for it. “My night off is Tuesday” he told us, adding hopefully that “maybe they will have one next week, I’m surprised they’re not using Blackberries to organise themselves properly, like in Tottenham”.

As your reporter left Kemang for home around 04:30, Pak Polisi were getting into their open sided lorries ready to do the same and the barricades were being dismantled by workmen. So, no riots or looting tonight, however, according to a police source Pak Polisi will be back for at least the next two nights and readers looking to give those back in the UK a bit of support might consider Pasaraya instead, it’s bottom left hand corner of Pak Polisi’s risk matrix apparently as no self respecting expat would be seen dead in the place these days.

As reports came in from all over the city of Poms not rioting anywhere, your reporter’s view was that far and away the biggest risk he took all night was not using a Blue Bird taxi.

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

The Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board forced Wilde’s words from The Ballad of Reading Gaol (sic) upon me more than forty years ago and, uninvited and unwanted, they returned this morning as I lay awake in my third level bunk bed in Jakarta’s latter day equivalent, listening to the sounds of a jail waking from its slumbers.

The sounds of jails are the same everywhere I guess, locks turning, iron doors slamming, piss pots being emptied and countless throats hawking. Here this morning they are overlaid by the sounds of the faithful taking their pre-dawn sahur ahead of their devotions.

As I don’t do pray, I concentrated instead on the rather more temporal issues of “how did I get in here” and, more importantly, “how the fuck do I get out?”. With hindsight it seems that I was a little precipitate in not engaging  the services of  Menggugat, Merebut dan Lari during my arraignment on Friday and I told Mas Budi, when he brought my Red Cross parcel yesterday afternoon, to get them over here to see me on Monday, maybe they can sort something out with the Prison Govenor; that bastard Gayus (NtJP passim) seemed to spend most of his incarceration watching tennis tournaments in Bali and taking jolly meals out in Singapore.

Had a chat with the commander of our section last evening, when he was kind enough to explain to me the structure of the place while he smoked an entire packet of my newly acquired Marlboro.

The jail is set out as blocks in two concentric circles with the blocks named alphabetically clockwise and from the inside to out. I very nearly pissed myself laughing when he told me I was in Blok-M. It took a little time to explain my mirth to him.

Blok-M contains about 150 prisoners, all non-violent allegedly and being held for various political crimes and corruption. Decent lot by and large I have to say and even recognised a few of them from the fine golf courses of this city, PDI-P and Provincial Governors mainly with a sprinkling of Demokrats and they were kind enough to share a few tinctures with me as we watched the Golf Channel on their 54″ OLED TV with Indovision and even let me put the cans of Bintang that Mas Budi brought for me in their fridge.

Starting to get into the rhythm of the place when, shortly after a particularly disgusting Soto Ayam for lunch which I was to share with a number of small things that crawled, the peace was disturbed by the arrival of prisoner 294844, no other than one Alex McLeish, known to many of you as the man with the TaylorMade(tm) R11s. Small world indeed.

Looking really rather well, possibly as a result of his having had his credit cut off in all his favourite Blok-M bars for the last couple of weeks, Alex was to blame Menggugat, Merebut dan Lari as being the immediate cause of his latest incarceration, “they wanted their firkin money noo, and ah didnae have it, ye ken” adding that they were unwilling to wait for his July commission cheque which “wiz in the post”.

They tell me I will get out before Maghrib on Friday. Isch’allah

Before the raid

Virtually the entire virtual (I’ve warned you before – ED) Jakarta Internet expat community, and indeed that right across Indonesia, was in uproar this morning as the country’s leading expat forum, Living in Indonesia (LII-EF), had their main servers disconnected from the Web following an early morning raid by crack Pak Polisi unit, DENSUS 88.

Details are emerging only slowly, though it is already clear that the CEO and several members of the Management Team together with a number of the websites administrative staff have been arrested, and are now being questioned at Central Jakarta Police Headquarters.

Speaking outside LII-EF’s now boarded up and rather seedy looking third floor headquarters in Jl. Falatehan, web site “Super Moderator” Atlanta told us “actually. I usually work in our Menado office and was just visiting. As it’s Ramadan, we start at 5:30 in the morning so that staff can get away to their families in plenty of time to “Buka Puasa” and it was not long after we all arrived, and seconds after tear gas canisters had gone off in the open office area, that several heavily armed members of what I now know to be DENSUS 88 came in through the windows, while as many as a dozen burst through the door from the reception area”.

LII-EF and its sister company, Living in Indonesia (LI2),  opened their doors in September 1997 with a business model built around support from a wide array of business and professional sponsors while providing an expat related Indonesian information source free of charge. They are believed to employ in the region of 20 staff across the Archipelago.

Also to be found outside LII-EF’s offices early morning was a small but growing crowd of its users distressed by the loss of their connection to the world. Long time member “Bung Fred” was outraged by the development and told us “It’s Ramadan and the pubs are closed half the bloody time, who the hell will I have to argue with now?” adding “they kick me off the forum from time to time but they are great people”.

Pak Osusanto, who told your reporter that he provided free two way Bahasa-English translations to the forum’s members, said to your man on the spot “Saya sedih sekali, Pak” before helpfully translating this instantaneously as “I am very sad, Sir”.  Most of his customers seem to be expats looking for dirty words in Indonesian and there is some hilarious stuff on his thread, try it out here.

A Latin American looking guy with a moustache told us his forum name was Man of Maize and described himself  as a “magic realist” and was to share with us that he was on his way to have a lens checked out at the Canon service centre when he saw the squad of DENSUS 88 storming the building, which is right next door to OSCAR pub, “they looked like pretty mean hombres” he told us, adding, “ten minutes later I saw them coming out with the servers, there were tears in my eyes man, like there is so much of me and so many other people on those things”.

Standing next to Man of Maize were friends and identical twins, Mim and Kika, clearly upset about developments with at least one of them in tears, “and to add to everything else, we are not going to be able to get rid of all the books now” Kika was to say rather cryptically.

Mas Budi, our IT guru, tells us that LI2 has a prehistoric feel that “looks like it hasn’t changed much since it was launched, while LII-EF is powered by the popular vBulletin online community software“ adding that “they could do with buying the VBulletin Mobile Suite App as most Internet-ing in Indonesia is actually done on mobile platforms these days – and while they are at it they should move all their LI2 information stuff over toVBulletin and have just one platform to support”. Well, er, thanks, Budi.

Galapagos Tortoise with a data administrator

As we reached our publication deadline, the reasons for the raid were still so unclear that even we couldn’t make one up.

On the bright side, “Super Moderator” Atlanta told us “we have back up servers in the Galapagos Islands and they will be brought up in the next hour or so, though posts after midnight last night will all have been lost unfortunately, though at that time there is usually only Bung Fred online”.

Inter League burns the midnight oil

Jakarta Inter League (JIL) was in chaos after midnight at the Grand Hyatt Conference Centre as the opposing factions haggled over what should have been the formality of increasing the League’s borrowing ceiling, and indeed over who was to pay the bill for the unbelievable amounts they were being charged by the Hyatt for beers.

“Can you imagine how much we would be in debt if we drank here all the fucking time” was the reaction of Minor Faction Sentul Swingers Representative John “Big Boy” Jones to having to pay nine bucks for a Bintang tinny that he could get at Hero for less than a buck fifty.

The party of President Bapak Jack Coldcall, Golfers of Democracy (GOD), are insisting that the Caddy Shack in the Sky (CSIK) Project has to be completed and that the enormous accumulated future Pension and Medicare rights of the caddies honoured.

The plan, devised and completed by Paddy O’Finnion just before his infamous departure for Singapore on Air Asia in early July, proposes funding this by:

  • Cost Cutting – on security, administrative staff and green maintenance and imagining that the new “cover all” health scheme devised by the President will actually drive health costs lower
  • Increasing Annual Membership and Green Fees by 25%
  • Raising the JIL’s borrowing limit to 154.53 trillion Rupiah

The increase in both Annual Memberships and Green fees is being vehemently opposed by the PDI-Tee Set Party, with strong support from the “Orange Faction” and they have repeatedly stated their refusal to countenance any increase in what they describe as “Taxation by any other name”, refusing backing even for the closure of well known loopholes around the “Country Membership”, “Life Membership” and “Corporate Membership” avoidance schemes.

JIL finances are currently severely stretched and on the first day of Ramadan JIL is expected, in the absence of being able to raise further loans, to run out of money for paying their bills and even more seriously, the interest on their current debt pile of 135.45 trillion Rupiah largely brought about by the ill fated Caddy Shack in the Sky Project. Failure to pay interest will put JIL in default with loss of its coveted AAA rating and very serious consequences for the Global Financial System; JIL bonds are already on “Negative Outlook” by both Moody’s and Standard and Poors.

During a break from the negotiations, PDI-Tee Set Party Chairman Rich Whymeman told us that, “these people are fucking communists; their plans for spending the hard earned money of golfers on their socialist dreams are not going to happen on my watch”. With PDI-Tee Set and the Orange Faction together holding a majority on the JIL House Ways and Means and Finance Committees, they have something of a whiphand on the issue.

GOD Chairman, Ananas Urbanlegenda, accused both PDI-Tee Set and the Orange Faction of intransigence by refusing to talk with his group and instead insisting on talking directly with the President. “No point talking to the oily rag” was Orange Faction Chairman Jean van der Battle’s reaction, adding “anyway, he’s just an effing crook, the only surprise is that he hasn’t left for Singapore yet, already“.

When invited to comment on the current impasse, President Bapak Jack Coldcall said “These bastards have got to put together a plan that attracts the support of both sides of the House and it’s got to be a plan I can sign by the first day of Ramadan, after I finish my morning round at Genung Gulis and before I tee off at Bogor Raya in the afternoon”, adding “I for one have gone the extra mile in making my time available in a busy official schedule”.

Speaking via Skype Videophone from his room above the Star Deli, fugitive from justice Paddy O’Finnion reflected that “most of the caddy pensioners on the list are either dead or fabricated in an hilarious session we had upstairs in Sportmans Bar a couple of years ago while most of the money borrowed goes directly into the bank accounts of GOD and its functionaries; it will probably end in compromise, but only after PDI-Tee Set and the Orange Faction get what they consider their fair share”.

Asked to comment in the Pangkalanjati GC clubhouse after pipping Grumpy McGreedy on a controversial count-back for the day’s low net of 68, long time PDI-Tee Setter and VP-Caddy Affairs  Peter Rancamaya said, “We are right there with Rich on this one; how the fuck can they keep putting the fees up like this?, – it’s taxation without representation whatever way you look at it, mate”.

Meanwhile, Joe Public grows increasingly irritated, with a recent NtJP/ORC International Poll revealing growing public exasperation and demand for compromise. Sixty-four percent of respondents to a July 18-20 survey preferred a deal with a mix of spending cuts and green fee increases. Only 34% preferred a debt reduction plan based solely on spending reductions.

Negotiations were continuing as your correspondent left the Hyatt around 04:30 to get a reasonably priced Burbur Ayam at his favourite Kaki Lima and a long sleep.