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Servants in Indonesia

(AKA household help)

Can't live with them - can't live without them. Oh we spoiled expats - one, four or even six people who wait on us hand and foot and all we can do is complain.

“Sorry I'm late, my sopir didn't show up on time.” or “Sorry I couldn't come to the meeting, my sopir didn't show up.”

“Sorry honey, dinner is running late. Sri is reading daughter number three a book before she serves our dinner.”

“Sorry guys, I couldn't finish my article on time, the suster went home to the village for a wedding and I've had to take care of my kids for the last week.”

“Sorry kids, we've run out of clean clothes, the pembantu have all gone home for Lebaran.”

“Sorry Mom and Dad, I haven't sent this letter earlier because the new sopir hasn't found our local post office yet.”

My, you'd think none of us knew how to do anything for ourselves anymore. Common laments of expats returning home from a long stint in Indonesia are:

“And now I have to wash the dishes again.”

“I miss my live-in baby-sitter, my husband and I can't go anywhere anymore without dragging the kids along.”

“I just can't decide what to cook for dinner! I'm so used to Yati taking care of it for me.”

“I spend the whole weekend taking care of the yard and the car; boy, do I miss Bambang.”

So expats - enjoy the good life while you can and show your appreciation to the household help. It can all end with a one-way ticket back home!

Mini Glossary of Indonesian terms:

Lebaran - holiday at the end of the Muslim month of fasting, when most Muslim servants travel to the village to visit their family.

pembantu - household helpers

sopir - driver

suster - nanny/live-in baby-sitter

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