Second Edition – The Editor speaks

First of all, welcome to the pages of the second edition of Mata Pribadi, esteemed successor to the distinguished Not the Jakarta Post. We truly hope that you enjoy our wide ranging wares this month and that we have something to entertain everyone.

On the subject of Not the Jakarta Post, all its articles have now been integrated into Mata Pribadi and can be found using the search box or the subject links you see above.

Many thanks to those of you who volunteered your mates’ e-mail addresses in our recent subscription drive; we are delighted to say this was to prove a major success. Less successful was our plan to award a Mercedes SUV to the reader providing the highest number.of valid expatriate e-mail addresses

Most unfortunately the Mata Pribadi warehouse was emptied out one September evening by a large gang of robbers wearing police uniforms – very clever, they really did look like the real thing on our CCTV of the event and we have therefore decided not to sack the warehouse guy who foolishly let them all in.

So bad luck to the winner who owns and manages a certain Blok M bar and who participated only on terms of the strictest confidentiality; never mind, the big white Mercedes SUV would have been a dead giveaway parked up front of his bar on Jalan Fellatio, so I am sure he will not be too disappointed.

More disappointed in fact will be Rich Whyme of PDI-Tee Set who had his heart set on a rather fetching pink Honda sepeda motor. Bad luck Rich, next time.

In the interim, a plea to everyone to keep those e-mail addresses coming, they are the lifeblood of online publishing and we still have a few iPads and iPhones as prizes that the “Police” missed in their raid.

This month’s edition contains the usual pot-pourri and perhaps in your best interest you might consider going first to Smoke, Mirrors and Jim Beam in a piece that could save your life one day,

When you have recovered from the shock, you might like a little entertainment in the shape of Indonesia’s particularly strong showing in the New York Diplomatic Parking Stakes while, particularly if you play golf, then you might then visit Bahasa Corner in order to improve your own Bahasa skills before moving on to our brand new and quite unmissable content, Mata Pribadi’s very own “Small ads” where you can take advantage of the many goods and service for sale and also the “lost and founds”.

We also have something of interest to commemorate Eastern Promise’s recent 22nd birthday and of course there is Ibu Pribadi‘s own regular Agony Aunt column wherein the illustrious Ibu dispenses her own unique brand of advice based on years of acquired wisdom and experience in “the City that really never sleeps“.

Last, and almost certainly least, you have an opportunity to enter our very first “fill in the bubble” competition, this month featuring PDI-Tee Set VP, Pedro Rancamaya. An iPad 2 is on offer to the funniest entry, so best of luck to everyone there, not least regarding the recent security upgrade to our warehouse. When we reveal the winner in next month’s edition we will also reveal what was actually said at the time; it may even win!

Should you wish to just read through the months edition without having to dart about then click on October 2011 Edition that you will see in the menu above.

Whatever you read, we hope you enjoy it and even, God forbid, feel moved to comment as we like to get feedback of any sort, the more abusive the better with nom de plumes very welcome.

Have a great month, The Editor

PS we are currently starting preparations for our Bumper Xmas Edition and would invite any worthy charitable or non-profit making sporting organisation planning Xmas related events to let us have details of same when will be delighted to include them.for sharing with those condemned to a Jakarta Xmas – and encourage them to open their wallets in a good cause. Please bear in mind that we publish on 14th December.

Posted in October 2011, Reader Dialogue | Leave a comment

Smoke, mirrors and Jim Beam

Your Food & Beverage correspondent’s personal preference is for a whisky without an ‘e’, that is to say the unmatchable stuff made from the pure waters of Scotland’s rivers and springs. Even so, there are niche whiskeys that enjoy considerable support, not the least of which is the American Bourbon whiskey, Jim Beam.

This support extends to Jakarta where Jimmy Beam is almost certainly the most “asked for by name” whiskey or whisky of any kind.

Interestingly, we are told by our man in the business that the distinctive bottles of Jim Beam when EMPTY have a street value in Jakarta of a mind-boggling 50,000 Roops. While the bottle is shapely and the label cleanly designed and attractive, it is hardly cynical to believe these factors alone are unlikely to be driving such an elevated price. This cynicism is well placed and Mata Pribadi‘s guiding principle for understanding Indonesia, “follow the money” is the key to unlocking this pricing distortion riddle.

Indonesians are famously inventive when it comes to making a buck and to mint money by taking simple ingredients and making it passably similar to the world’s most famous Bourbon is a challenge they have taken up with a verve and, concentrated around Bandung apparently, there are numerous backstreet workshops busily working away mixing water of dubious origin, alcohol of uncertain provenance and composition and adding flavour and colour chemically before finally, yes you guessed it, putting it into the Jim Beam bottles they had previously acquired at such expense. It is then sold to unscrupulous bar owners at up to 150,000 Roops, or about half the price of the real thing, tax paid.

Just in case you are feeling smug that your tipple is Johnny Walker Red or Smirnoff Vodka or whatever, then that would be naive, those little workshops find these and many others even easier to “copy” than Jim Beam.

Indonesia is well provisioned with laws and there are indeed laws that make such activities illegal, however, the problem as ever is actually one of “enforcement” as, with everything else going on, passing off crap as Jim Beam is not at the top of Pak Polisi’s “to do” list. And, even when they come across it, they are more inclined to consider it as a revenue generating activity of their own rather than let the force of law proceed. A recent raid in Blok-M is evidence of this.

So, what is your by now frightened Expat who likes a tipple to do? In fact there are a number of things that can be done to mitigate the risk of Bandung’s Finest passing his lips.

  • demand that your tipple is not served to you with your regular mix already on top – and then smell it, and then taste it
  • if you buy by the bottle then insist that it is brought to you still sealed. Check the seal as the counterfeiters have yet to learn how to do a good job on re-sealing. If it is dodgy then shout WTF – and send it back
  • ask around those who know, there are bars that serve nothing but the real thing; move there
  • If you think your favourite bar is dodgy, but you don’t want to move for whatever reason, then negotiate a corkage rate for bringing in your own bottle, this is common practice by those “in the know”
  • Any empty bottles at home should be broken before being put into the refuse system
  • Ask your bar owner how he disposes of his own bottles, encourage him to similarly break up his own empties
  • Finally, if you are really risk averse then stick to beer –  it has no such associated problems as the barriers to entry are high and the margins far lower
There are almost weekly reports here in Indonesia of people blinded and/or dying as a result of strong drink adulterated with dodgy stuff, mainly methyl alcohol. These practices have yet to affect what might be called the “premium” end of the counterfeit drinks market, but this does not necessarily hold good for the future.
Now you know, don’t say you don’t.
In our next edition: “Watering down for fun and profit – Confessions of a Bar Owner” – well at least it won’t kill you.
Cheers, and be careful out there!!!
Posted in Business, Corruption, Expat Foibles, Food and beverage, October 2011 | 2 Comments

Half a million impoverished Indonesians for a day

... but we always park like this in Jakarta, Pak

Indonesia’s past sporting achievements are relatively meager for a country of its size of population and success, where it has occurred, has largely been in badmington and sad to relate, even in the field of the shuttlecock the Golden Days of Susi Susanto etc appear over.

Anxious to achieve success at something, anything really, the Indonesian diplomatic staff of the New York consulate, ably assisted by visiting bigwigs to the UN, has entered the New York Marathon – for parking fines.

After a full year of heroic efforts at finding fire hydrants to park in front of, yellow lines to obscure and a lot of just generally illegal parking outside the excellent restaurants and bars of New York, the Indonesian Consulate has managed to rack up an astonishing 6.5 Billion Rupiah in parking fines!!! That is 750,000 of the USA’s wobbly dollars and puts them in the Bronze Medal position; surely no disgrace coming behind Nigeria with $1,000,000 and Gold Medal winner, Egypt, with $1,900,000 – but ahead of 143 other participating Nations!!!

That will be 85 bucks, Mr President .........

With the release of the figures, the Embassy immediately got into the usual round of denial, blaming others, general obfuscation and saying others are worse, before finally asking someone else to pay the bill.

All to no avail apparently as, if the Embassy does not cough up, then they will have NO diplomatic plates issued to them next year.

That of course is never going to happen as there is no way SBY will be using a Yellow Cab next time he has to address a plenary session of the United Nations.

The Republic of Indonesia’s Ambassador to the US, Dino Patti Djalal, a chap not averse to a bit of publicity as you will see if you visit his personal website, is according to a nice chap we came across in Crossroads the other evening, extremely pissed off at the development and warned that heads will roll if things don’t improve and refuses to accept the Consul’s alleged suggestion that it is entirely the fault of the Consulate’s drivers, most of whom are from Solo apparently.

The Ambassador’s major claim to fame hitherto is for writing a book, “Harus Bisa!” which sold bundles of his time as Presidential Adviser to SBY, extolling the latter’s qualities as a leader, something which rings somewhat hollow now given current received wisdom on the issue.

Reported sales figures of around 1.7 million for “Harus Bisa!” are somewhat misleading, given that many of them were then given away to every school and library in the country, the Military, Higher Education Institutions and Universities – all at taxpayer expense of course. “Harus Bayar” might be a good title for your next best seller, Pak!

Moral Note: 6.5 Billion Rupiah would feed more than half a million impoverished Indonesians for a day or, in more familiar terms, around 10 large, suitably optioned and equipped four-wheel drive SUVs fit for Members of the DPR.

Posted in October 2011, Politics, Roads and Traffic | 4 Comments

Eastern Promise – 22 Years young!

Following a bit of a drubbing at the 60% Bangkok pool playoffs at Crossroads in Kemang, your Food and Beverage Correspondent decided to cheer himself up and give his Her Indoors a treat by going around the corner for some late night Indian at Eastern Promise

Having the previous week celebrated its 22nd anniversary, one might reasonably have expected the place to look a little down at heel. No such thing, recent investments in the place and the quality of the original fittings mean it is a smart, clean, warm and welcoming venue for your weary Expat with a deservedly large and loyal clientele.

The food was great with the sauces with the chicken tika and prawn curry likely to make even the most discenning Brummie feel he was back home. Special praise for the Nan, which is thick, juicy and cooked to perfection, unlike most of the dried up crap that passes for Nan in most places here.

Toilets improved out of sight, drinks reasonably priced, pool table busy and in good condition while the dart board cries out, without too much success, for someone to play it.

So, what’s not to like? Well, er, and being a kindly sort of chap I hate saying this but, the service is as poor as everything else is good; the staff preferring to fiddle with their smart phones, chat with their mates and play pool rather than looking after the customers who pay their salaries. Getting attention even on a quiet Monday evening required far more effort than any weary Expat would deem appropriate while smiles were as rare as hen’s teeth until the delivery of the bill. Rather depressingly it felt like being back in England. Don’t tip, they may get the message.

So, great place, really good food, and sensibly priced drinks – service needs some sharpening up..

Posted in Expat Foibles, Food and beverage, October 2011 | Leave a comment

Ibu Pribadi answers your questions #2

Welcome to Mata Pribadi’s Agony Aunt column wherein Ibu Pribadi tries her very best to answer questions of all sorts from readers.

Ibu Pribadi writes ….

Welcome back and in particular many thanks to the many of you who have written in with questions, it was a lot of fun reading them! Some were however of such a personal nature that I am unable to answer them even in this open-minded organ, so I have replied to those e-mails directly – so good luck with the operation “Encumbered of Kemang”!!

So here goes with a few from this month’s mail bag that we could actually answer here.

Dear Ibu Pribadi, I have been offered a half share in a gem stone business at what looks like an attractive price given the balance sheet and P&L accounts I have seen and I have to say their showroom is first class. Should I go for it? Wary of Lebak Bulus

Dear Wary, there is a 90% plus chance that this is a con. You should do two things, firstly have your accountant look at their bank statements and, secondly, hang around the area of the shop for a few hours on a Saturday and see how busy it really is. Only after that make a decision


Dear Ibu Pribadi, I have been offered a good looking pool cue by a local in Blok-M for a million Roops but I am unsure of the market price for such things, what should I do, Tight Wad of Ciledug

Dear Tight Wad, make the long trip up to Mangga Dua to a shop called ISAK Billiard on Jalan P. Jayakarta 26. There you will in all likelyhood find “your” cue on sale for about 350,000 Roops – and much better ones for up to 2.5 million. They are honest and the prices are good but you may be able to bargain them down a little. They will also service your cue if anything needs attention, not something your Blok-M friend would consider in the unlikely event you could ever find him again after you have bought the thing.

Dear Ibu Pribadi, my Indonesian girlfriend is very beautiful and seems honest even though she comes from a very poor family. I believe she loves me and I want to marry her but now her family tell me that the wedding alone will cost 500 million Roops. What on earth am I to do? Cunt Struck of Cilicap

Dear Cunt Struck, much cheaper  to buy two tickets to Las Vegas and get married there, if she won’t come with you then call the whole thing off which would be even cheaper still. Good luck, Ibu Pribadi

Posted in Dear Mata Pribadi, October 2011 | Leave a comment

Mata Pribadi’s “Fill in the Bubble” Competition #1

Each month we hope to bring you an image from our spy camera that would embarrass the subject’s  Mother and at the same time give you, the reader, the opportunity to tell us what might have been said at the time.

This month we bring you a picture of Pedro Rancamaya, VP Commercial of PDI-Tee Set, the well know Jakarta based Sunday morning cross-dressing group.

Entry is free and the first prize this month is an iPad 2 with all the options, so get those entries coming in!! The winner will feature in the next edition.

Funniest entry is the winner of course and, needless to say, the Editor’s opinion and decision is final on this one. We would be most happy to receive readers photos that meet our needs and imagine that the JH3 in particular will have plenty of low hanging fruit. C’mon there must be somebody you would like to embarrass!!

Posted in Fill in the Bubble Competition, October 2011 | 23 Comments

Bahasa Corner #2

Don't bother,follow us instead and save money!!!

So, how did you manage with last month’s first lesson? Did it improve the quality of your Indonesian life experience? We hope so and, by special request, this month we are bringing in some terms that can help you on the golf course and in the clubhouse. Many thanks to the Tee Set’s “Caddy Whisperer” for his contributions to compiling the vital golf lexicon here in Jakarta.

The simple verb “mau” or “to want” is very important to you as it conveys the meaning that you want something, or, coupled with tidak, that you don’t want something – and we provide you with examples to get you started.

So, here goes then, this month’s useful phrases, Selamat Berlajar!!

As you will have observed, Bahasa Indonesia can generally, in context, convey meaning very much more efficiently than the English language – the key is not to try and translate English word for word but instead to keep it simple.

See you next time, when I understand that the Jakarta Hash House Harriers will be putting together a very interesting collection of phrases for your educational advantage!

Guru Budi

Posted in Bahasa Corner, October 2011 | Leave a comment