20 September 2014

selamat bule

Today, in my taxi, we pulled up at the traffic lights beside another taxi and my driver looked across and pointed at its passenger (a large, blonde, pudgy, Dutch-looking thing).

He turned back to me, giggled, shook his head, then pointed back at him:

"Same same you - bule".

Bule means caucasian, but is often applied broadly to refer to any non-Asian foreigner. This was his best English, ensuring that I didn't miss out on the opportunity of seeing a another white person.

22 August 2012

Says Sun

Tshirt on a teenager today at Shinjuku station: a bright, yellow, smiling, Japanese-ish sun with speech bubble that says:

Uranus is better than the Earth

21 August 2012

Narita des

I disembark from Garuda GA880 and head towards immigration. A Japanese toddler is weaving in front of me, blocking my route. She has pink bow in her hair and her white singlet has this on the back:

Call me some time!
Kiss kiss honey baby

This country is not going to disappoint.

23 November 2011


This guy is responsible for killing 1.7M people in Cambodia.

Now he just looks like an old lady at a bus stop, grimacing as a young person next to her says "fuck".

I hope his victims find some comfort in her suffering.

02 November 2011


I interviewed a job candidate today. Here's how it went.

Me: "Why do you want to change jobs?"

"Well it's just ... it's good ... but too much ... enough. In my role ... today ... it's really difficult, you know? Too difficult for now. I think it's enough for now. Sometimes my personality gives me headaches."


Me: "Sometimes you need to say 'no' to a client. Can you give an example of this?"

"I was working on a project last year and our client -- she asked us to do all this work that wasn't in our contract. I said no, because it wasn't part of our contract."

Me: "So then what she say?"

"Well in the end she forced us to do the work for free."

Me: "So in the end you said 'yes'?"

"Yes. I had to because I was scared of her."

Me: "Any other examples of when you have had to say 'no' to a client?"

"No. Just that one."

I was on the verge of giggling, so quickly forced it into a strained smile.

He smiled back awkwardly. Then we moved to the next question.

01 November 2011

Cry Babies

There was an interesting contrast in the SMH today.

I left this page concerned about my Qantas frequent flyer points balance; not Sabaya.

Is that wrong?

03 October 2011


Today I'm interviewing someone who received his MBA in Finance from the Simbiosis Centre for Distance Learning, in India.

I get the feeling that once employed, he will be hard to shake off.

21 September 2011


Garuda is Indonesia's flagship carrier. 

In 2007 it was banned from all European airports due to safety concerns. This was very embarrassing for Garuda (and for Indonesia) and they underwent a significant revamp of their aircraft, service and safety. 

In 2009 Europe let them back in.

Today a colleague sent me a link about the new Garuda, where they are groping applicants to ensure no (explosive) breast implants. My favourite quote: "She declined to be named, saying she was still waiting to hear whether she had got a job after the tests last month."

It reminded me of another recent in-flight incident: photos of a Cathy Pacific flight attendant blowing her co-pilot. Favorite quote this time is a headline from China:

Cathay pacific, pilot stewardess fired after cockpit orgies

But my favourite is the Virgin Atlantic crew member who accidentally played the announcement "Wake up you cunts" on the flight from Orlando. It was a joke intended for the crew but they accidentally broadcast it to the cabin.

I tried to find out more information about this on Google and typed "VIRGIN CUNTS" into the search box. Big mistake, especially when using a work computer that is heavily monitored.

08 September 2011

Rag Down

I like everything about this sentence

A 60-year-old car wash manager accused of groping a "chamois girl" and forcing her to perform a sexual act on him has been described by his lawyer as "desperately lonely and in need of love and affection." 

I blame the French. If they didn't want a chamois to be sexy, they would have called it a rag. 

Everyone knows that lonely men tend to steer clear of Rag Girls. 

11 July 2011


This was how the first headline read:

The young woman in the photo is smiling. At first, I imagined her leaning against a pram as she and her baby stared admiringly at a red Toyota Prius. Mouths agape in awe.
"One day we'll own a car", she mumbles to herself longingly.
Once the headline was updated it became clear that the Pajero had not been stationary:
So it was terror - not car lust - that kept their mouths agape? Go figure.
She makes for very photogenic hit and run, though. It reminds us how sad it is when a stereotype meets with a sticky end.

If 2 aboriginal kids were run over in Redfern, the police would rush to arrest them before they were even loaded into an ambulance. The newspaper would include a stock photo of black kids beating up a taxi driver; or defacing a building with graffito; or beating up a taxi driver with empty spray cans. Or something like that.
As for me, I don't care if boring people are hit by cars. If I had seen someone looking this wholesome I would have run her over myself; given a Toyota Prius and half a chance.

08 July 2011

Please Come Back - But Not Yet

This afternoon, Basement Level, Wisma Mulia

Restaurant Gulali used to be quite popular until about 3 months ago, when a great noodle joint opened up nearby.

This sign is so cute I could eat it. Less so the food.

Notice the "old logo" wording at the bottom? Also edible.

Imagine the marketing workshop: "Let's tell the customers that we're going to change, but make sure we still offer the same food."

10 points for effort. I'll definitely be back.

07 July 2011

Algunas Fotos Recientes - Los Cansados

This city is in a constant state of sleep deprivation. Here are a few examples.

Harry Halfjob, Minimart, downstairs from my apartment building

I am very familiar with the storeroom at the back of my minimart: I often help the staff  rifle around for a fresh case of soda water. 

Yesterday this is what I found sticking out from the door. This storeroom is jam packed and our sleeping beauty must have removed those boxes to make room, before getting bored.

That'll do," he said as he nestled down into his makeshift swag.

Business Meeting, Plaza Indonesia, 5 June 2011

This photo proves that I'm not the only boss that this happens to.

The boss (centre back, grey shirt) is giving a speech to his 25 staff. None of them is paying attention to him. Not one.

Look closely you will see that most are punching away at their Blackberries. Some are cradling their chins in their hands with their eyes closed. Others are just staring off into space.

This is very common in my office, where people find nothing wrong with turning up to meetings and not paying attention. Attendance is the main game; not attentiveness.

In my meetings, if I see that ALL people are tuning out at the same time I keep myself interested by saying ridiculous things like "Just like you expect see on the Pacific ocean". As long as I don't change my tone of voice, I'm fine. Last week when I added "... blue potatoes." to the end of a sentence, someone looked up and smiled warmly. Fake bitch.

Jakarta, Plaza Indonesia, most mornings

Nearly every morning I see this chick having a nap when I walk past, motorbike helmut beside her. I guess she's too junior to be trusted with the keys.

Maybe after a couple more years if she gets promoted they will let her sleep inside. Perhaps even make herself a little bed from the clothes on the discount rack.

06 July 2011

If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

... then I don't have to write so many.

Family Lunch, La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, May 2011

This family was out for a Sunday lunch a few weeks ago and brought their uniformed nanny along to tend to the child.

La Hacienda is not a cheap restaurant, which is probably why they also carried separate food for the nanny - in this case a 50c cup of noodles into which the waiter helpfully poured hot water. 

You may think she is rude to start eating before the other diners' food has arrived, but consider this: once the nice food arrives, she will be busy feeding the child.

It is not unusual to see a nanny sitting at a nice restaurant, surrounded by fine dining while wolfing down some nasi goreng from the local street stall. As the local saying goes ... There's no point throwing good money after bad nannies.

There is also nothing unusual about seeing a Nanny relegated off to the kids' table ... standing beside the children and forking food into their mouths ... or even sitting at a completely different table by herself (the worst table, next to the dunny entrance, handy in case of a toddler emergency).

As the local saying goes ... even nannies need to take a load off now and then.

Some restaurants - I kid you not - explicitly write that their "no outside food to be brought onto the premises" rule does not apply to nannies.

As the local saying goes ... Those nanny bitches think they can get away with anything.

Banda Aceh, Aceh Tsunami Museum, May 2011

Banda Aceh doesn't get tourists. The militant separatists were killing people throughout the 90's.

Then, the tsunami of 2004 killed some foreigners as well as half the city's population, most of the buildings and all of the infrastructure. Aceh was the closest point of land to the epicentre to the Tsunami and the worst affected, with over 200,000 people dying in this small province alone. Every single Acehnese has lost many close friends and relatives to this tragedy and for this reason I didn't ask any of them about it.

There is little left in Banda Aceh. Closer to the shore you see rows of pre-fab homes which laid abandoned for years, until people overcame their trauma and supersuspicions and were able to move back to their former suburb.

Aceh's only museum was funded with restoration money and the visitors are all locals - many students.

This is a popular stopping point in the museum, especially for the younger ones. The girl posing in this photo would have actually known and loved some of those little fleeing plastic people in the exhibit.

This pose is about as sexy as a good muslim girl will go, unless you count premarital sex as being sexy. Many of the girls smiled and draped themselves around this railing in a similarly seductive manner, some worked a thumbs up or rabbit ears into their pose. It reminded me of the posing that constantly occurs outside the massive Louis Vuitton store in Jakarta. 

I saw one guy pretending he was also fleeing from this wave, seemingly showing the plastic people how it's really done.

Another museum exhibit is a mock house. You wait in line for your turn to go inside, at which point the attendant presses a button. The house shakes as it simulates getting hit by a tsunami - you get to relive the moments just before your house is either unhinged from its foundations or collapses around you. We gathered quite a crowd when we took our turn, people laughing at the foreigners as they tried to maintain their balance. "This white guy is so shit at tsunamis", I imagined them mumbling as they pointed and giggled.

La mesa, lamebook, June 2011

I just liked this one.

Airport Checkpoint, Medan Airport,

Once you're checked in, or on arrival, you are free to come and go from the terminal via this large corridor on the right. There is no need to show your ticket to the booth guy again.

This type of security at a major domestic airport seems to imply that either Indonesia believes it has no risk of terrorism, or has no chance of stopping it.

I know what my money's on.

21 June 2011

Brace Yourself

It is now quite common to see adults wearing dental braces, especially in Jakarta where many a smile is adorned with a row of metal.

In a developing country like Indonesia - whose economy collapsed after the Asian currency crisis of 1998 - orthodontic services were in short (or no) supply until recently and the rich would have sent their children overseas for braces. As they still do for education.

Even today, some middle class families find it hard to afford orthodontists and their children have to go without.

Luckily Indonesians have pretty good dental hygeine and nice teeth, especially compared with the rest of Asia.

... back to last Saturday night.

Arief is the boyfriend of someone I know. I have only met him a few times but last Saturday I noticed his braces had been removed and mentioned it to him. He smiled back through a row of perfect white teeth.

"Wow - congratulations." I said.

At that point Matt whispered to me that these braces were not for straightening his teeth; that they were for cosmetic reasons only. Apparently this trend is spreading quicker than a hooker on a fixed price.

So I asked him:

"Did you actually need braces for your teeth?"

-- "No. They were accessories."

"Accessories? REALLY ...?"

-- "Yes really."


-- "Accessories. Fashion."

"How long did you have them?"

-- "6 months"

So here's the thing.

In Bandung (a couple of hours south of Jakarta) it has become fahionable to wear dental braces. These are real dental braces, applied by an orthodontist but without any tightening bands.

To most people in Indonesia braces are an unattainable luxury and it seems that in Bandung it still curries social status.

It's fashion, Jim, but not as we know it.

It may sound strange but judge ye not: there are many worse crimes being committed in the name of fashion. Like selling your kidney for an iPad 2. Or carrying a little dog around in a Fendi Baguette. Or unsafe sex. Or this Sheila in a pacman helmut.

15 June 2011

What I've Been Up To

I can be lonely living abroad but you make your own fun. Y'know?

This is more Sunday brunchwear.

12 June 2011

Algunas Fotos Recientes - Las Compras

1. Chicken Caesar Salad, Mad For Garlic restaurant, Grand Indonesia

Indonesians love salad dressing. They fucking love it. Some of the salads are best described as "served soupingly".

This afternoon I did my best to get through the Signature Caesar at Mad for Garlic.

The dish won.

2. Bikes For Rent, Kota

I don't understand why they pair a summer hat with each rental bike, but I like it.

I also like it when the punters wear these hats as they ride the bike.

Nits and all.

3. Cocktail Menu, Bibliotheque

I remember the days when a Californian Mother Fucker was the cheapest bitch on the menu.

I don't know why they jacked up the prices but I blame Governor Schwarzenegger.

4. Laden With Stories, Traffic lights, Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Jakarta

This, a couple of days after the assassination.

Now I regret not buying it. I would have whited out the "ING" added a comma after "UP" and a couple of exclamation marks after "LADEN".

5. Save The Women And Children.

... for dessert.

This dish is known colloquially as "The Sharon Tate".

6. Wandering Around Ranch Market, Basement Level, Plaza Indonesia

Australia's Finest
I've asked around and no one in Australia has ever heard of this product.
Well at least no one on Facebook.

Comme un poisson hors de l'eau

These little guys live between the pasta aisle and the yoghurt fridge.

They seem to be screaming "let me out".
"That will teach you to eat worms", I mutter as I walk past.

By way of contrast ...
These little fellas seem much more content in the afterlife.
It's nice to see entrails finding happiness in death, especially considering the things they are asked to do in life.

7. Please Tell Me Which Honey Bread Am I - eX Mall

The only legend here is that this scary dish is considered "Jakarta's Best Dessert".
I don't know what this Honey Bread looks like. Or if it even exists. I don't understand this store and have never seen someone eat in there. Perhaps it's a myth. Or an ... umm ... legend. OK so I get it now.

8. Sticker Lifter, Home-Fix The D.I.Y Store, Plaza Indonesia

There is nothing remarkable about this plastic lever, except that it removes stickers from things.

Oh. And it kills people.

Judging by the DANGER warning, one can assume that someone's been done in by this sticker lifter. I chuckled (cowardly) as I read it ... imagining the event.

The doctor explaining it to the next of kin:

"Jimmy swallowed a sticker lifter and I'm afraid he didn't make it."

On the death certificate:
"Cause of Death: SLC (Sticker Lifter Choking)."

At the burial:
Jimmy's family frantically using their fingernails to remove the sticker on the cheap tomb stone

At the inquest:
The judge orders the National Sticker Lifter Association to comply with strict new labelling regulations.

If something like this happens to me I hope someone has the foresight to call it a car accident; or AIDs. Because nothing is as undignified as a fatal SLC.
conjunction: dari, daripada, kecuali

07 June 2011

Mrs Brady

The only thing shocking about this article is that Edna, at 80, had access to $57,000. I mean ... look at her. Just look at her.

If she has $57,000 then of course she's a sitting duck. I could shake that thing down for cash in 2 minutes with some smelling salts and a bag of compliments. Quack quack.

Edna should be thankful that these "Indians" didn't come over and knock her out. Or off.

"Edna Sloan, 80, lost $57,000 to elaborate Indian scammers."

This caption underneath the photo is completely misleading:
  1. It claims that Edna "lost" this money. This is not true. She didn't leave it on a bus. She didn't make choices on the ponies. She tossed it across the Indian Ocean like a hot potato.
  2. It calls the Indian scammers "elaborate". There's nothing "elaborate" about telling Edna to keep her trap shut ... it's the oldest trick in the paedophile book. Moreover, Indian scammers should be ashamed of themselves for being a bunch of lazy amateurs with poor attention to detail. I mean ... Edna still has a large floral couch. And I see a microwave back there in the distance. A professional wouldn't have left a skerick. Elaborate my arse.
  3. How do we even know that the scammers were Indian? It is tempting to blame Indian telemarketers for all ills, but doesn't it all sound a little clichéd? Dennis was too quick to point his grimy little index finger at India. I wonder if Edna's immediate family was properly questioned by the police? What's to stop Dennis from using an Indian accent to scam Edna out of a few grand? He knows the target ... her weak points ... and the old girl would have been so thrown by the accent that she wouldn't even notice an accidental "Mum" from time to time.
  4. What are those documents she's holding? The transcripts of her bank transfers? Can't be. Look at the page on the top - it's not a bank transfer. Someone plopped some old bank statements into her hands for the photo shoot and Edna once again just did what some stranger told her to do.
I prefer this slogan:
"Edna Sloan gave $57,000 to her son Dennis, an Indian impersonator"

But most of all I am suspicious of Edna. By the age of 80, people are either very rich or financially fucked. Edna's hair clearly proves the latter. So where did this money come from? And why was it sitting in a bank, doing nothing? This is the type of geriatric selfishness that would force her own children to take what's theirs. Just as God intended.

Let this serve as a word of warning to Cheesel:

When this happens to you old girl - and you mark my words it will - don't expect to be left there sitting on a luxurious floral couch, entertaining the media (and me) in a dated white twin-set. There will be no couch and no microwave. And no documentary evidence.

You'll be left on a plastic stool, dressed in a ratty tracksuit, eating slops.

I can see it now.

No, I really can:
Cheesel, December 2009, Barbecue Restaurant, 47 Ma Mai, Hanoi

06 June 2011


I have a new hero and it's called Prince Philip. Over the weekend I was reading about his impending 90th birthday and hunted for some of his quotes. Some of his later stuff is the best:

China State Visit, 1986 … to a group of British students in China:
If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes

Said in 2002 to a blind, wheelchair-bound woman who was accompanied by her guide dog
“Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”

To Australian Aborigines, during a visit to Queensland in 2002.
“Do you still throw spears at each other?”

To a driving instructor in Scotland, 1995:
“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”

After the Dunblane shooting:
“If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?”

To Elton John after hearing Elton had sold his Gold Aston Martin
“Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car – we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”

To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes
“You look like you’re ready for bed!”

China State Visit, 1986:
If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.

During a visit to Lockerbie in 1993, to a man who lived in a road where eleven people had been killed by wreckage from the Pan Am jumbo jet.
"People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle."

During a visit to the new National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. Said to a group of deaf children standing next to a Jamaican steel drum band:
Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf.

Said in 1994 to an inhabitant of the Cayman Islands:
Aren't most of you descended from pirates?

Presenting a Duke of Edinburgh Award to a student. When informed that the young man was going to help out in Romania for six months, he asked if the student was going to help the Romanian orphans and was told that he was not …
"Ah good, there's so many over there you feel they breed them just to put in orphanages."

University of Salford to a 13-year-old aspiring astronaut, who was wishing to fly the NOVA rocket; "Gift of the gaffe: Prince Philip’s top ten embarrassing moments". Daily Mirror. December 14, 2009.
"Well, you'll never fly in it, you're too fat to be an astronaut."

Whilst on a tour of a factory in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1999 Prince Philip pointed out a fuse box that looked quite old:
"It looks as if it was put in by an Indian."

Said to black dance troupe Diversity at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance:
"Are you all one family?"

At Washington Embassy reception for Commonwealth members:
Are you Indian or Pakistani? I can never tell the difference between you chaps.

During Royal Jubilee tour in 2002.
If you travel as much as we do you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – unless you travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.

Comment on seeing plans for the Duchess of York's house.
"It looks like a tart's boudoir."

Proposal for solving London's traffic problems.
"Of course, the problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. They block the streets. If we could just stop tourism, we could stop the congestion."

Said to a farmer's wife from Northern Ireland visiting London for a charity event.
"So you managed to get here without having your knickers blown off."

Said to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner.
"It's a pleasure to be in a country that isn't ruled by its people."

Comment during the depth of a recession in Britain in 1981.
"A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone's working too much. Now that everybody's got more leisure time they are complaining they are unemployed. People don't seem to make up their minds what they want."

Prince Philip used Hitler's title to address German chancellor Helmut Kohl during a speech in Hanover in 1997.

Of his daughter, Princess Anne.
"If it doesn't fart or eat hay, she isn't interested."

Comment on US television in 1969 about the Royal Family's finances
"We go into the red next year... I shall probably have to give up polo."

On getting stuck in a lift between two floors at the Heriot Watt University, 1958.
"This could only happen in a technical college."

On being shown "primitive" Ethiopian art in 1965.
It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from her school art lessons"

Philip did not approve of the noise Concorde made while flying over the Buckingham Palace.
"I must be in the only person in Britain glad to see the back of that plane."

Meeting a wheelchair-bound nursing-home resident in 2002.
"Do people trip over you?"

Discussing his role in an interview with Jeremy Paxman
"Any bloody fool can lay a wreath at the thingamy."

To a 14-year-old member of a Bangladeshi youth club in 2002
"So who's on drugs here?... [points] HE looks as if he's on drugs."

Asked in 1999 of Tory politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, whose parents are Jamaican.
"And what exotic part of the world do you come from?" He replied: "Birmingham”

Response to question about how he feels about his life.

"I'd much rather have stayed in the navy, frankly."

01 June 2011

Sinking Ships

Here are some ads which are running on Indonesian television.

The first one shows a woman sitting in her comfortable, happy home talking about her comfortable, happy marriage. Call her Sharon.

Watch it first ...

iklan resik-v manjakani - take 1:


Apparently the translation goes something like this: after a couple of kids, the "lady muscles" aren't as elastic as they once were.

That's where vaginal tightening ointment comes in. 

The formula is simple. She knows that this impending marital friction will be her fault; or more accurately, her cunt's fault. Loose lips sink good marriages.

Queue ointment with acorn/hazelnut/Ferrero Roche hybrid as key ingredient.

As the animation shows - nay, proves - that her cervix has contracted back to a tidy V. The rubber proves that so has her vagina.

"Spoil yourself, spoil your husband" and the marriage is saved.

The product name translates to "treating rehearsal vagina", although I imagine "rehearsal" is slang for "lazy".

This next one shows Sharon boasting to her friends. I could spend hours watching the one who applaudes vigorously ...

iklan resik-v manjakani - take 2:

This next ad is more of a farmyard version. Gloria (a decidedly rougher version of Sharon) is ignored by her strapping, body-building husband. No doubt as to why.

He tries to chase tighter tail until she rubs in a bit of Treating Rehearsal Vagina and Voilà! Her cervix contracts while her hair and clothes are transformed as well. The hubby runs back to her arms, only to find that she's flirting with a 12 year old Hell's Angel. I image her womb is looking tidier as well but they didn't animating that, so no proof.

iklan resik-v manjakani - take 3:

This whole thing - the ointment, the adverts, the story - could only have been created by men. Then again, they say the only people who hate women more than men do, are other women.

30 May 2011

Bottom Of The Barrel

On a conference call this morning. There were about 10 people on the call, from all around the region:

Me: "Kurniawan are you in the office this morning? You can come to my desk for this call."

K: "No. At home today."

Me: "Are you sick or something?"

K: "Diarrhoea. From the bottom. [announced to the world] I don't know how I got it, you know? But a lot of diarrhoea. So I can't come to work"

It also reminded me of when I first met Kurniawan, earlier this year. We were having lunch with J, one of our new consultants visiting from Singapore:

Me: "Actually, Kurni, I heard your wife just had a baby?" [The previous week I'd been approached to sign a card and eat some cake.]

J: "Congratulations! So how many children do you have?"

K: "Yes. New baby just last month. We have 4 kids now."

J: "Wow. 4 kids. That's a handful."

K: "We only wanted 3 and my wife is having the IUD for 6 years already then suddenly this. The IUD not working. It was working fine for 6 years so now after 3 boys we have a girl. You know even with IUD you can never be sure."

As a topic of conversation, there is nothing lurid or shocking about contraception. It's just a little awkward to introduce it early into a business relationship.