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A Quiet Afternoon at the Office

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14.11 Well! This afternoon I am alone at the office in our home. I am going to work very hard, and get a lot of things done ... nobody to disturb me, all to myself!
14.13 Before I start, I'd better phone and order 2 gallons of drinking water as there is none left.
14.16 I am distracted by a kleng kleng kleng sound on the street. It is the bakso and es campur seller, pushing his food cart. To make sure that people don't have to go outside their homes to know what is being sold, every seller has a different sound or music to identify them. Let me see, am I in the mood for bakso, little balls made of meat and flour with noodles and soup? ... No! Am I in the mood for es campur, a drink made of jelly, fruit, fruit syrup, condensed milk and crushed ice ? Maybe later!
14.18 Turn on the computer, start up ....
14.23 The laundry boys bring my washed and ironed clothes into my room. Thank you very much.
14.31 The boy from the 'water shop' delivers the water. Need to pay first .... no, I do not have any change, don't you? No? Oh, you will bring it later? Okay.
14.42 The neighbour is bored and wonders if I might be bored too. Let's have a drink.
14.47 Jeruk manis! Jeruk manis! The orange seller passes by on his bike. We still have oranges in the fridge, so do not need any at the moment.
14.54 Another tune from the street ... the ice cream man with his cool box full of ice cream treats.
15.04 The neighbour is going back to her own house again, just clean the glasses and get back behind my desk again.
15.09 Okay, the computer is ready. I click to open Excel.
15.11 La la laa, la da da di di da burger, burger! This one sells, you might have already guessed it, burgers and hotdogs.
15.15

Pipa leiding, pipa leiding! It's the tukang kran (plumber). He has an old sports bag filled with all kinds of tools on the back of his motorbike. Should you have a problem with your taps or pipes, then he will come and have a look. He will look at the tap from all possible angles saying hmmmmm and aaahh a lot, he will then open the tap, close it and look at it again from all different directions. Then he will state his price and we open our attack: Of course it is far too expensive, last time the price was only this much, for that money I can buy a whole new tap, for that money I better repair it myself. Now we mention our price and the seller defends himself stating: But it is a lot of work, the tap is really leaking a lot, I have to make a living too, you know, etc. Finally, after a lot of arguments from both sides, a deal is made on the price and the man can start his work ... but fortunately today all the taps are working as they should so I don't need to call the plumber as he passes our house.

15.18 Excel is open now, now where is that file that I had to work on today? Let's see!
15.20 Plok plok sounds the pangsit mie ayam seller, offering a plate of noodles with chicken and vegetables.
15.22 C-drive, then to the map 'My documents'... hmmmm
15.24 I hear some noise, and someone shouts 'permisi' followed by a live and especially-for-me music concert. An Indonesian hit is sung with the help of a fake guitar, a tambourine made of metal bottle lids and a drum made of an empty plastic drinking water gallon bottle. They are after some change ... let me see, where in heavens name... all day I have seen coins around the house, but now that I need them .... there, found them. I go outside and the coins only have to touch their hands in order for them to stop playing the guitar, tambourine and drum. They have reached their goal so why bother and finish the sentence in the song, let alone the word. While holding their breath, they go to the neighbours' house and continue their song exactly where they stopped it for me.
15.30 Okay, back to looking in the 'My documents' folder and then...
15.32 The boy from the drinking water brings back my change.
15.35 So I was looking in 'My documents' and then...
15.37 Tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut tuuuuuuuuuuuuut, the bread seller, selling bread of all flavours. The bread has a sweet and sticky taste here because apart from flour, water, yeast and salt, they also add sugar and butter. So when you eat a piece of plain bread, you get this peanut butter feeling in your mouth. The different flavours are chocolate, cheese, chocolate and cheese, chicken and banana. Apart from the bread, they also offer a lot of different cakes. However, I bought 'real' bread yesterday in the city centre so I am not interested.
15.40 Plok plok plok! Fried rice or fried noodles. I assume you understand!
15.42 So I was looking in 'My documents' and then to the 'Nerindo' folder...
15.45 Sapu, sapu! A bicycle with a mountain-like two-meter-stack of plastic buckets, bowls, brooms and plastic items . everything you can imagine for the household. He has all the models in at least 5 different sizes. Should you be looking for something special and think... naa, he cannot possibly have that too... all you have to do is ask and he will abracadabra pull it out of his collection like a professional magician.
15.48 I click 'Nerindo' and...
15.50 Sol sepatu, sol sepatu! The shoe repairman normally has the front wheel of his bicycle up in the air . as he carries all his shoe repair tools at the back, including his anvil. That is just what I was waiting for, my leather pen case is broken and my shoes need repairing. I get up, go outside and clap my hands so that he knows that I would like to use his services. He turns and parks in front of our house. Just a moment, get my things . how much will it cost all together? 10,000 Rupiah? Ok. Just get this man a cold drink, it is always so warm on the street. He starts on my shoes.
16.01 Fuut fuut! Putu, a steamed sweet made delicious with the grated coconut on the top with melted Javanese sugar in the centre.
16.04 While my shoes and pen case are being repaired, I can continue my work on the computer. I am now in the 'Nerindo' folder and open the file that I need. It is called 'urgent work'.
16.07 Sate, sate! Probably not so difficult to guess, the sate seller. Most of the time, you can choose between chicken and goat meat and it is prepared on a small barbeque fixed to the stall or bicycle. When done, it is served in a pool of peanut sauce with a fresh cut red shallots, sambal and lontong, sticky rice in banana leaves.
16.11 Sol sepatu! My shoes and my pen case are repaired. Thank you!
16.14 What a noise, an amplifier on full volume shouting out Indohits. It is the jamu seller selling herbal drinks that, in some way, do you good. They give you energy, help you to lose or gain weight, make you look younger, improve your sex life, heal migranes, stomach ache, backache and other problems you might have. You do get earache from all the noise, though.
16.17 Kling kling klong klong, kling kling klong klong! An older man with a kind of doll-like instrument, singing a song and playing music. He always finishes his song but he always looks at the amount of change you give him and depending on the amount, he decides how to greet you. This can vary from just a 'hmmmmmm' to a friendly 'thank you very much'
16.21 The file 'urgent work' is opened, now just look for the papers that I had to add to the file .
16.24 Siomay, siomay! The seller has a frozen collection of sausages, siomay, chicken nuggets and other snacks in his cool box on the back of his bike.
16.26 Trom trom roffel roffel trom trom roffel roffel! Should there be any children playing in the street, then you can invite them to a real circus act with a little monkey that can ride a bicycle, roll around, play cowboy, jump through a hoop in the air and perform other spectacular arts. The little monkey is very motivated to do his act as his boss pulls the chain around his neck every 3 seconds.
16.32 I was working on these papers, let me see, these ones are already done and these ones not yet . so I will start working on them now then, tick tick tick tick .
16.39 Soto! Nice chicken broth with rice, egg, fried onions and spices. I really like it but I am not hungry now!
16.44 The telephone rings and I explain that our company Nerindo is a one-man-company and when I am in Indonesia, a two-man company . we are very small.

The conversation goes as follows:

Is this Nerindo Mentari? Yes! Can I speak to your export department ? I am sorry but the person in charge is not in at the moment! Allright, then I will try again later, whom do I ask for ? Let me think who again is responsible for our export . I think you can speak to Ari Kiswarianti, she is our export expert so to speak. Then I will try again later, thank you very much, goodbye.

16.49 Tick tick tick tick. Work is going great . or is it really?
16.57 Pot kembang, pot kembang! A tropical garden on top of a push cart, pulled by the seller. This must be hard work, especially with the sun on his head. The seller halts and shouts out asking if Ari is home, as she really likes plants and they have something special for her. Sorry, she is not in today, maybe next time. Would you like a drink? Yes? Just a moment. Nice and fresh, right? See you next time!
17.04 Ronde ronde! A warm drink made of ginger and something else. As I do not really like ginger, I have not yet studied all the ingredients yet.
17.08 Chick yen, chick yen, bakpao yang asli (a song with music)! The famous bapao with different delicious fillings.
17.15 Tick tick tick tick tick tick, one paper down, 49 to go.
17.23 Gordin, gordin! A complete collection of curtain sets for the whole house on the back of his bike and the curtain rails hang somewhere between the legs of the seller.
17.27 Tok tok tok! Bakwan, the bakso but without noodles and cabbage.
17.32 The neighbour comes home from work and to unload from all the stress at his office, he treats his family to some horny karaoke songs. I vibrate on my chair, the glasses in the kitchen move and the street cats gather in front of the house
17.40 I cannot work with this noise, I am going swimming for an hour at the pool nearby.
19.00 I meet a friend at the swimming pool, what a coincidence . he is a swimming instructor. We go to his house for a chat.
21.14 The swimming instructor brings me home on his motorbike.
21.17 Shower first
21.31 A plate with rice, vegetable and egg on my lap, prepared this morning by our maid, Mbak Rom.
22.12 Indonesia is sleeping so I can finally get some work done.
The next day I would like to note that some sellers passed unnoticed because I was busy doing something else. There were at least 60 more of the above mentioned sellers and also those selling the following dishes: Pempek, tahutek, rujak manis, siomay rebus, tahu campur, onde onde. Unfortunately, I do not have time today to explain to you what they consist of. This afternoon I am alone at home/at the office so I am going to work very hard, get a lot of things done... because there is nobody to disturb me, all to myself!

© Gaby Schilders

Housing and schooling information for expats in Indonesia expatriate website for Indonesia Indonesian language translation of article

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