web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: August 2007
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Thursday, August 09, 2007
Peed on by peddlers

Sometime last week, my husband was (well, he still is) having problems with his company's Indonesian partner. The state-owned firm had reneged on their promises countless times and had been shall we say, rather dishonest.

The problem with my husband is he mulls over these things and it spoils his day. I suspect he likes being mad and edgy. On our daily walk one morning, he was going on and on about how these people can't be trusted. I absolutely disagree but I can't be bothered to get into an argument with Saiffuddin at 6.30 am, so I pretended to listen while I fantasized about a five bedroom home with a big yard in Bandung (my instant zen, though fantasizing about Eric Bana works, too)

Unfortunately, my husband can't stand being mad all on his own, and would do everything he can so that I would have a rotten time along with him. So I had to leave my sumptuous fantasy house (which by then already had a huge pendopo and a guest pavilion nestled among huge acacia trees) and was drawn into the fray.

"Any Indonesian businessman will cheat you given the opportunity", he announced.
"No, you can't work like that", I retorted, "you have to have faith. Not everyone is dishonest. This bad chi will get you nowhere".

It just so happened that a bread seller passed by us, pushing his gerobak. My husband dug into his pockets.

"Let's have an experiment", he said, " Let's give this roti man some money and ask him to send the bread to our house. We'll see if he runs away with the dough or if he'd deliver."

Now, this is not a very wise thing to do, because (sigh) most small-time peddlers and bajaj men and fishmongers in Jakarta will cheat you given the opportunity. We have had to pay ridiculous amounts for short bajaj rides because their owners never seem to have any change. I have bought two kilos of ikan kembung only to discover at home that half of the fish were actually selayang. Nevertheless, I agreed, because I was sure the man wouldn't cheat us for just six thousand rupiah (about RM2.50) and he goes around our neighborhood every day, so he knows that he's bound to meet us one time or another. Besides it might shut my husband up for a while.

So we hailed the bread man and told him to send the bread to our address. The bread guy appeared a little confused with our instructions, and did look as though he thought we were stupid to entrust him with money. We left him, and continued with our walk.

"He'd deliver", I said. "We'll see", answered Saiffuddin.

Halfway through our walk, I had to pee and we took a detour back to the house. Maybe The God of Petty Quarrels loves Saiffuddin on that day, because just as we left the house to resume our jaunt, the bread man came to our street. He was behind us, and we saw that he went past our house and did not deliver the bread. I wanted to turn back but Saiffuddin didn't let me. Seemingly, the roti man didn't know that we knew he was there, and pushed his gerobak very slowly, afraid to overtake. He didn't even sound that roti-horn, which identifies self-respecting roti-men every where. (Well, in Asia at least).

"Damn", I swore. (I didn't really say damn, but I censor my blog, you see). "He wasn't going to deliver the bread".
I wasn't sure if I was mad at the roti man or at my husband for being so smugly right. As the bread guy was going to turn a corner, in a bid to make a quick escape, we suddenly called out to him.

"Sono! (Over there!) The house is over there", my husband pointed out. The man looked surprised, like a boy caught stealing.

We left him on the corner and continued on our walk, with Saiffuddin proclaiming how he is never wrong about people every step of the way. I sulked and pouted and asked him if he's happy now that he's managed to ruin my day. When we got home, I really expected to see the bread on our table, but there was no such luck. I mused about how patently stupid the bread man could be -- he ran away with six thousand rupiah and now has to sneak around his tour of Menteng because he'd certainly want to avoid us now. Over breakfast, Saiffuddin gave me another long lecture about the virtues of being a difficult and negative bastard.

When it was time to send the kids to school, I went to open the gates, and there, hanging from the spikes, was the bread, wrapped in a plastic bag. I had no idea what went on inside the bread-man's mind that produced that stab of conscience, and I really didn't care. What mattered was, on that day, I could throw the bread into Saiffuddin's lap and declared that I won the argument.


Jakarta Rocks

For about two seconds, a few minutes after midnight.

Except for Ibu Ika, the gardener's wife, everyone in the household slept through it. Apparently it was violent enough to displace some of the water in our pool, and had sent many Jakartans into a state of panic; but maybe those were just Adang* supporters.

I should be very, very glad that the quake caused only a small ripple in the city, but when I first heard the news I was really hoping I could have an excuse to skip work.

*Jakarta's gubernatorial election actually received bigger coverage than the earthquake. Fauzi Bowo won the election, defeating former Deputy Police Chief Adang Daradjaatun.