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Who Says Indonesian Girls are Not Flexible?

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A familiar scenario; despite the well-known myth that Indonesian women who are married to most likely 'aged' expatriates are merely doing it for money, recent research indicates just the opposite! Most local females are actually quite flexible. Their loyalty and obedience traits are unshakeable - whether they're lured toward luxury or harsh poverty. Though the result of the half-hearted study hasn't been approved nor certified by anybody but myself, I still found the results interesting. In fact, they might change some displeasing opinions about a particularly abundant and sustainable resource of this country - females.

The young female caddy didn't have a clue what lay ahead for her when she fell in love and finally married an Australian army officer she met at a local golf course. Although her feelings may have been influenced - or shall I say - enhanced by the excessive 'tips' she received from the hairy blond. During a hot day at the ninth hole, he even let her have a caffeine fix from his freezing cold coke bottle, for God's sake, with the same straw. So, okay, perhaps the white superiority and money did play some role. But how was she to know what would happen next? Did she put working household chores 15 hours a day in a strange country where nobody, including her husband, would speak her language - into her humble calculation?

Like Charles Spurgeon said; it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.

In order to wrap up her bachelor's study in a state university in Yogyakarta, Hannah had to face her compulsory one-month long field training bravely. She was sent to a barren, cracked earth village in the middle of nowhere. It seemed impossible that the noble family in the cultured glimmering palace of Yogyakarta was less than an hour away. The field training was sort of a test for university students - whether they were ready to implement their theoretical knowledge in the real world or not.

Unlike Hannah, who was from a quite well to do family, some students didn't have the privilege to be prepared - not in the least - to adapt to poor village conditions. Half of the state university students came from less fortunate families. These students looked at the government institution as the only path toward future success, and an opportunity to lift their families and neighbourhood out of poverty. How did they get there ... either their parents had sold the only cattle they owned or through a scholarship sponsored by taxpayers somewhere in Europe; they finally could afford to pay the massive university fee of less than US$ 200 per year. The field training was pulang kampung - or 'back to the shells' for the 'not so well to do' students.

But for the VIP man's daughter, Hannah, this wasn't the case. Accustomed to driving her BMW back and forth between the campus and her house a mere half kilometre away, Hannah had a long list of things to bring. Several bottles of Australian's best red wine, a goose feather comforter and pillows as well as a bowl of gardenia scented potpourri were amongst other essential luxuries prepared for the trip.

Surprisingly, after staying in the village chief's rickety house for a week, Hannah adjusted really well. Although she was fully aware her superior had assigned her to the not so remote area through respect or fear of her father's influence. Not once did she reach for the cell phone and summon her driver to take her to the nearest city's executive club - her favourite place to hang out and enjoy the pampering. She woke up at dawn to walk to the nearest well, which was almost a kilometre away, to have an open air mandi (bath) and so managed to walk back to the house without becoming sweaty again. She even got used to the daily routine of checking her bed and shoes for comfort-seeking scorpions. And she didn't complain when she found tiny floating corks in her wine - as she had to uncork the bottles with her Swiss army knife.

How could Hannah and other spoiled Indonesian girls I know of, adjust so readily to sudden and drastic changes in their environment? Is it because of the repeating indefatigable speech from her parents on how they started building their empire from zero? Perhaps the fact that poverty, the primitive environment and the non-modernised world are just a stone throw away. Let's face it, people can always find slum housing, shanties of layered carton boxes and used plywood, behind every skyscraper in Jakarta. At the village Hannah was sent to, which I repeat - was only half an hour away from civilisation, there was not even a toilet bowl to be found. When Hannah insisted that a proper lavatory should be installed, the village chief stuck the gleaming brand new squat toilet bowl on the ground, without digging any septic tank or drainage. The concept just didn't sink in.

Poverty doesn't inhabit another world in Indonesia. It's a fact of life that people like Hannah have to face at certain points in their lives. It doesn't go away - it's in the shadows. It's in the shadow of their feet wherever they go, it's in the shadow of their expensive limousines - all around them.

Although I believe that the conclusion should be a lot deeper than this, at least an assumption that Indonesian females are merely a bunch of material girls is not true. They are adjustable; they can be snobbish 'OKB', the local slang for 'just recently tasted the luxurious world'. Or, because of their loyalty and obedient traits, plus the fact that poverty is more becoming a shadow for them.

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