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New Business Opportunities

A lot of foreigners who have experienced the beauty of this country have made a life altering decision to actually move here to live and try to catch an opportunity in the vast business world. Indonesia as a developing country also creates enough water holes for them to get some big - really big - fish.

There are a lot of reasons to stay in this country. For the hot-blooded bachelors; the easy babes are one thing. How big is the chance to have pubescent girls throw themselves at you, not because you are a nice or smart person but only because you are white in Washington, DC for instance? Slim, unless you have one foot in the grave and are filthy rich from owning Playboy magazine or something.

Of course there are also a lot of foreigners out there who sincerely believe in the kindness, humbleness and the unique qualities of the Indonesian people, who fall in love with the lush green - not to mention humid (which is believed to delay the forming of skin wrinkles) - tropical attractions.

In the late 90s, the number of expatriates working in this country dropped drastically - approximately by 50%. Less and less local companies were willing to provide the enormous expatriate package. It is common knowledge that more companies are hiring single, young, usually male, expatriates - pay attention girls! - whose salary packages generally cost a lot less than married couples, especially the ones with children.

For foreigners who are attached, in marriages or whatever other convenient arrangements, to the locals, it's different story. As the Javanese say, once you are married to an Indonesian you are also married to her or his family. The strong bond between the local spouses and their families sometimes makes it difficult for the foreigners to just hit and run. The foreign spouses then try to find ways to remain in the country, while generating enough money to support the family if it's possible. Some of them have enough abilities and connections to hold positions in huge multinational or international companies, while some of them are stranded in the most noble profession on earth - English teachers.

Aside from the government regulation that foreigners are only allowed to fill positions Indonesians are not capable of doing, if you are smart at twisting some facts there are actually gaps in between. Some business opportunities, which haven't been touched by foreign influence, are as service providers. Nothing fancy - take professional taxi drivers for example. Remember the story about a famous local movie star that fell in love with her taxi driver in Sydney? A white guy who followed her orders! She was so overwhelmed by that experience that she took him home with her. It cost her a bit more than investing in the meat market in Blok M, but hey, love is blind.

Massage service is another idea. If you look like that actor in the movie called 'At First Sight' - Val Kilmer - do not waste your time in a boring laboratory research centre somewhere in Jakarta, take a body massage course and start your own business! Do you know how many people here are dying to feel a little 'white' touch? Influenced by those romantic movies from the west, there are lots who are willing to pay serious money for this service. Although some of us know that there is nothing special about it - not that it has certain healing power to make your skin paler, as the most favoured skin colour in this country, or something. But still it is a legal and lucrative business, as long as it doesn't create an alternative to the already famous 'massage parlour' inquiry: 'Would you like a special service, mbak or mas?' Instead of using 'mister' and as a plus, the new question is pronounced in a thick Welsh accent.

Or an escort service. Indonesians, male and female, are crazy for western escorts. Seems that having a foreigner on their arm could elevate their status somehow. It doesn't really matter whether the white-faced guy is an old drunk who hangs out at Oscar's, as long as he carries a 'made abroad' trademark. Ever heard about 'expat pajangan', which can be translated as the white puppets? The term is used to describe expatriates who are employed only to show their white faces.

Most of the locals still look up to people who come from more developed countries, as if they are more knowledgeable. Local companies who hire these people feel that their image is uplifted - with a touch of western professionalism. In reality, these white puppets have no definite job description and suffer all the blame when something in the company goes wrong. Their duties are limited to accompanying their bosses on business trips and to meetings, although they may have no understanding of the local language whatsoever. In the meeting rooms, they still have to look smart and nod their heads here and there although feeling completely befuddled about the whole situation. Anybody interested in this opportunity?

The entertainment business should never be left out as a possible business prospect. You have seen how crowded some dance clubs in town are when the band members have cute cloned faces like the West Life boy band or have a blond singer with a Britney Spears-like face? See how the audience drools and pays 110% attention though they sound really crappy? There you go, if you're blond and attractive, just start your own band. Don't worry so much about your unpolished voice, you can always use Millie Vanilli's old method. Do not forget to invent a sophisticated dance movement on the bar, Indonesians love that!

Those are all the new business opportunities that I've thought up so far, besides ham and mushroom pizza delivery girls. Please try to keep an open mind and give them a shot. If you make a big booming profit from one of them, a little contribution to the writer would be highly appreciated.