Ross says "kampung" girls are the best.
As Spring, and all other seasons, bring rain in Scotland, so does the advent of Ramadan in Indonesia almost inevitably produce whining articles in the Jakarta Post from spoilt lazy women who can't look after their own families.
Ignoring the paradox of a communist-sympathising newspaper affording a platform for the worst examples of the "exploiting classes", I'd like to dwell on the issue of women who have plenty of money to afford cooking and cleaning classes yet go into a paroxysm of despair when their pembantus (housekeepers) escape the endless domestic drudgery for a week or two to pulang kampung (go home to their villages) and enjoy the company of their loved ones.
It is not unusual for these rich women to move their entire families into hotels for the duration of the Holy Month, or disappear out of town to some luxury resort. Not that I begrudge them a vacation, but the reason for abandoning their homes is their sheer uselessness. And when they come back they're just as slothful as before they went, re-energised only to resume their irresponsible gallivanting while their sons and daughters are washed, dressed and nourished by employees.
Please note I'm not having a go at working wives. If a couple choose to organize their lives to benefit from two incomes, then that is their choice and they need to make arrangements for their children to be looked after, and if you work all day, it is nice to have a meal waiting for you when you've waded through Jakarta's traffic.
No, my target is the idle females who never work at all. Their kiddies are left in the care of "babysisters" while these gilded creatures swan around coffee-shops and engage in endless window-shopping (or the real thing) while over-worked maids mop and dust and bake and fry so the men of the house (and the said idlers) can have a home worth coming home to. What on earth possesses Indonesian men to marry such dead-beats?
Yes, of course they may be beautiful, and charming, and since their mothers were probably as dysfunctional as themselves, they can't be blamed for their total lack of domestic skills, but surely if they are free all day, they can take some time to learn what they missed out on as they grew up? (And the government took pride in introducing such classes for migrant workers, so don't tell me there are none available.)
But let's forget Ramadan and ask why so many Indonesian women are brought up to be parasites, all year round. It's not part of their genetic structure. You only have to walk around any backstreet to see Jakarta housewives who work their fingers to the bone to ensure all is spick and span on the home front and the children go off to school in good shape. Men who want good wives, spouses just as beautiful and charming as those pampered playthings I'm criticizing, but infinitely superior in that they're competent at housewifery, need only stroll into the poor people's neighbourhoods and find hundreds of capable blossoms just waiting to be plucked.
When I was still quite new here, I heard a nice young Indonesian lady who worked in a bank asking another expat, "why do bules (white expats) always prefer kampung girls?" I had no answer then, for I didn't understand the question, but after almost nine years in the Big Durian, I can begin to see why. Kampung girls usually accept responsibility for their families. If they were transplanted to distant shores, they'd not be surprised at having to break sweat in the kitchen or lift a broom.
On the other hand, if some of these glamour-pusses we see waltzing around Senayan City or Taman Anggrek all day returned to live with their foreign husbands in those foreign lands, how could they adjust to what Western women take for granted - that if you have kids, you have to look after them, that if you aren't obliged by employment to be out of doors all day, you should devote some of the time spent indoors to carrying out some basic housework. Yes, I know many Western women do go out to work, and good luck to them - I'm talking about the ones who don't. And I'm not being "sexist" -whatever that means. I'd apply the same critique to house-husbands who shirk their chores too.
Being at home with young ones you love is not a burden but a joy. But many of Jakarta's rich women as a rule don't seem to think so. It's more fun to sip cappuccino in Kemang cafes than change a nappy (diaper, for American readers), I agree, but parental duty should take precedence over the social whirl, benar?
So what is the explanation? For the rich women's lack of shame at their indolence, and for the men's utter lack of discrimination when they marry them?
Watching the numerous sinetron suggests that parents here often interfere intolerably with their offspring's marital choice, coercing their young to marry within their own 'social level' regardless of their wishes. Admittedly, such soap operas are melo-dramatised, but perhaps they do reflect realities. While people mostly marry others from within their own milieu, there should be no parental sticky-beaking into such an important matter. A lot of young men would surely be far better off marrying a cute pembantu with a kind heart and culinary skills rather than being directed into the would-be "social wedding of the year" with a fatuous ding-a-ling who can't boil an egg.
There is too much snobbery here, reflected on a political level by the indifference of the ruling class to the sufferings of the rest, whether it's in mud-flow situations, or brutal evictions, or just life's everyday injustice. The upper strata of society seem to regard the others as a race apart - or beneath.
As readers of my previous posts will be aware, I loathe communism but I can see why Marxist irrationality and class hatred can fester and grow in such circumstances. So my topic has ramifications far beyond the four walls of any household.
I await enlightenment from Indonesians of any class.