Author Archive

A Drunken Kartini Day With the Boys

April 23, 2010

I was kicking myself last month when I realised that International Women’s Day had crept up on me and that I had no time to prepare a celebratory night out, or at least a rant of some sort to have published.

And the same thing happened to me on Tuesday night. “Do you know it’s Kartini Day tomorrow?” my housemate asked me.  

For those of you who don’t know, the late Raden Ajeng Kartini in 1903 established Indonesia’s first primary school for girls that offered an education regardless of social status, and she is still today Indonesia’s most-celebrated feminist.

To honour this pioneer, a little establishment down the road from my place put on an event to raise money to buy books for kids. The idea was to have 21 women behind the bar pouring drinks, as the day is celebrated on April 21, Kartini’s birthday.

But as my housemate and I stepped into the bar, we realised that these ad hoc bartenders were not just ordinary women. These were particularly attractive women, many of whom, we later found out, were professional models and socialites.



I Heart Kemang

May 15, 2009

When I tell locals that I live in Kemang, the first thing a lot of them say is, “Oooooh, Kemang. A lot of bule [Westerners] live there.” Of course all the restaurants, bars and boutiques attract foreigners, but there’s a whole lot more to Kemang than coffee and couture.

The Contrast

Kemang is an area of stark contrast: You have modest kampungs through the back streets, which run parallel to enormous houses for the rich. There is plenty in between, like my kos, which is like a share house.

This is a family's house in Kemang, complete with a garuda

This is a family's house in Kemang, complete with a garuda


The Secret to Success?

April 1, 2009

Photo uploaded by DJ Lein 

After finishing work on Monday, having sat at my desk for eight hours straight, I climbed into a taxi, went home, jumped into bed and switched on the TV. Turn on, tune in, drop out.

The next night, I did it again. And the next night and the next. Every Sunday, I make grand plans for the upcoming week – Monday, study Indonesian; Tuesday, get a head start on writing a story; Wednesday, go to the gym – but after a day at the office, I can’t resist putting two things I love together: TV and bed. I have truly become a loser in the same vein as Homer Simpson.

My nightly viewing schedule usually involves some MTV and Channel V – which are bitter reminders of my unsuccessful attempts to make it as a singer in Sydney — and I always get my 11 p.m. hit of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Star World, on which Kimmel interviews celebrities who did make it. They are pleasing to the eye and speak in a soothing simplicity, putting me contentedly to sleep like a sweet lullaby.

But on Monday night, as my eyelids were drooping, something on the show caught my attention. I sat up in bed, alert and fascinated. Our revered glamorous types were being somewhat knocked from their pedestals by a goofy-looking, very un-Beverly Hills-like author.

It was Malcolm Gladwell, promoting his new book, “Outliers: The Story of Success.(more…)

Ol’ Dry Town Jakarta

December 11, 2008

Working at a newspaper, I’ve had to come up with a number of different terms for the “global financial crisis”, and I imagine I’ll have to keep doing so for some time.

But when I’m not at work, there is another crisis affecting my life: the booze crisis. (more…)

Where there’s smoke…

November 26, 2008

I took my first puff of a cigarette when I was 15, and on the occasional night that my friends and I experimented with booze, some of us pretended we actually liked smoking, like we had been doing it for years. I liked how it reflected my teenage angst. Being troubled was cool. Looking back, there’s nothing more comical than a 15-year-old who’s been smoking for two weeks saying, “Yeah, I’m trying really hard to give up.” Fast forward 10 years and here I am. I’m 25, in Indonesia, still tempted by those wretched things that destroy so many lives, saying, “Yeah, I’m trying really hard to give up.” There’s nothing sadder than that. (more…)

Bush and his cronies of the hook? Obama says no.

November 14, 2008

The whole world is anxiously waiting for Obama to take the reins from the much-hated President Bush. After an expensive election that involved the throwing around of grand statements and ideals, the world should be anxious, perhaps even excited. (more…)

Times They Are A-Changin’

November 5, 2008

obama1After two years of campaigning, $5 billion spent and one scandal exposed after another, the worm has finally turned and the United States has a new Democratic president. What a relief. (more…)

Global Hand Washing Day: A dirty reflection

October 15, 2008

I’ve never been germaphobe, nor have I ever understood germaphobes. But having been sick with stomach upsets here in Jakarta for the last 10 months, I feel a fear developing…

Luckily, I’m not alone in talking about how germs affect my bodily functions: The same goes for my expat friends living here. Phrases like “got the trots” no longer make me shudder and letting one go is almost customary at the expat-in-Indonesia dinner table. (more…)

The female expat experience

September 24, 2008

Perception of the male and female expat

“Your meet me call me, to piet padang.I LIKE YOU.SEE YOU BY.And I LOVE YOU,SORRY.”

It was the night before I left Padang, Sumatra, to return to Jakarta, when I received this sms from “Piet Padang”. (more…)

‘I can see Russia from my house!’

September 17, 2008

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Palin and
Clinton on Saturday Night Live
Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Saturday Night Live made a wise decision when it asked the brilliant Tina Fey back to do a guest spot last week as the US Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. The skit has got the whole world laughing and has even made the news worldwide.

As I watched the whole skit on Youtube, I must admit, I was in stitches. But beyond my laughter, there was a dark cloud looming over me. Finally, America not only has a black candidate running in the upcoming election, it has a woman too. I should be happy, shouldn’t I? I’ve been waiting for this. (more…)