Ross McKay's latest novel 'Jakarta Suckers!', bule-prostitute romance blossoms on Jl Falatehan.
Having only recently begun following the thread about 'Dating Indonesian Girls', I was intrigued by the variety of wounded westerners/bules littering its back-roads, intrigued and mildly miffed that I hadn't time to revise my latest work of fiction to include more of their experiences.
But JAKARTA SUCKERS! (out now, from Morfiny Books, 85000 rupiah, available from firstname.lastname@example.org or PM me - free delivery in Jabotabek) is still a useful read for anybody who hangs out after dark in the dives of the Big Durian.
My first experiment in writing in the first person, it centres on a guy named Barrie (who, once you read the book, you'll know is not me!) and his dalliance with a slapper named Losari. Having gotten into her, he finds it hard to disentangle himself, because he thinks she's "different!"
Some cynics say you can always tell if a bar-girl is lying, because you can see her lips move. I don't agree - just ask her what she wants to drink and she's guaranteed to tell the truth!
But cewek2 licik and bule2 gila will continue to interact, because they're made for each other. And it is mutually advantageous, as the former get richer and the latter get wiser.
I have frequented Jaksa and Falatehan for a decade or more and listened to many a forlorn fellow lamenting how he was taken for a ride by these delightful demimondes, so it seemed timely to fictionalise their down-falls.
But to make it more fun I applied my colourful imagination to embed the morality tale in an adventure yarn, which I hope only emphasises the point. Mendacity begets misfortune. The story also gives hints on how to detect prevarication, with anecdotal evidence as 'awful warnings' to new kids on the block.
I enjoyed writing it so much that I'm already started on my next.
(Why a Prostitute?)
Again, sage old bules will ask you why you’d expect a hooker here in Jakarta, or in Bangkok, to be good settling-down material. If you want a soul-mate in Michigan, or Manitoba, or Manchester, you’d not go rushing down to the red-light district, would you? And nor would I. Having commuted through King’s Cross Station in London at all hours of day or night for several years, and seen how frightful the hookers there are, it would seem an act of madness to go prospecting for a partner in that sort of locale.
But the girls here are not the same as prostitutes in the West, who have alternatives, not least to do what so many young women do there and sponge off the welfare state. There are millions of poor people here with no prospect of real jobs and not a trace of any serious welfare system to tide them over until an economic miracle arrives. They include large numbers of young, and not so young, women, who often have elderly parents who depend on them, or babies to feed, or, sadly, shiftless husbands or live-in lovers who whack ‘em around if they don’t go out and bring home sustenance.
So what do they do? They are not, many of them, stupid, and they are, most of them, attractive. Indonesian women are magnificent specimens of their sex, and we bules, by our reactions, remind them of this daily.
(Why a Bule?)
So the girls go out for bules, not because we have big dicks, though they tell us that, nor because we are handsome or consummate raconteurs, though they give us to believe those things too (lies, remember?) but because we have money, in amounts they can only dream about. English teachers are on the lowest rung of expat salary levels, and their pay is equivalent, so I’m told, to about the same as a judge’s or a middle-ranking police officer’s. (though those fine fellows have ways of supplementing incomes not open to the teachers)
The girls in the bars see it as their mission in life to detach us from our cash. Or more precisely, detach the cash from us, because they don’t want us, they want the nice green stuff.
To this end, guided by the imperatives of survival, and advancement – which means buying plots of land back in their kampungs, building a house on it, and boosting their bank account to a level whereby their ‘post-sell-by’ date in bar-life will be comfortable – they will tell you whatever you want to hear, or whatever they think will motivate those dollar bills and pound notes to flit from your pockets to their purses.
This goes far beyond haggling over bed-fees. It encompasses gulling the dumbest into financing courses in hair-dressing or typing or anything the poor sod will believe is a stepping stone to ‘liberation’ from a life of sin!
Big Yuli, not the scrawny little Yuli from Tebet who got a few hundred out of me to pay her dad’s debts, but the gal with enormous assets who did the ‘Johnny Andrean’ on me, yes, the full monty hair-dressing course, never actually convinced me she wanted a new career, but I was so fixated on her chest at the time that I happily handed over the money.