LaLa , is my new BF. He is 30 years old, gay and Muslim. He has taken me wholeheartedly into his bosom (?) and is very amusing and great company. He is a fountain of knowledge and my chief translator/advisor on all things Indonesian. What an absolute blessing it is to have him in my life.
When he was 22, LaLa’s parents were so ashamed by his homosexuality that they banished him from his home in Sumatra and forbade him to ever contact them, or his brothers and sisters again and since that day, 8 long years ago, he never has. A woeful tale but a fact of life in a country where due to strict Islamic religious laws and practice there is much bias and prejudice against gays and lesbians and it is a place where being a known homosexual/lesbian you are very likely to be punished for it by being given one hundred lashes with a cane.
So, the outcast LaLa took a boat to Java and headed to Jakarta to find work and start a new life, away from his family, his friends, and all that he had known and grown-up with. Working in a kitchen he met an older man who befriended him and well I needn’t fill you in with the rest but it set him up for the first few months and gave him the long awaited chance to try out ‘the scene’ in Jakarta. Nowadays he is happily living with his boyfriend whom, he has proudly told me, is ‘the love of his life’.
I mentioned in my last blog that he works in the café downstairs in the lobby but what I didn’t mention was that it’s run by 2 beautiful sisters of ‘une age certain’ who are both quite extraordinary cooks. How I am ever going to be able to lose weight, I simply don’t know, as everyday something (me) or someone comes along to sabotage my feeble attempts. I met the lovely sisters last night and spent a couple of hours chatting with them and LaLa which was good fun as Pedro was out for the evening smoozing with the great and the good at a VIP reception held in honour of the Americans delegates who are over to visit, amongst which was the American Ambassador.
Keen to show off their cooking skills, Daisy produced a huge plate of deep fried rissoles with a sambal accompliment which was placed in front of me along with a can of full fat Coke or ‘showka showla’ as it’s pronounced here! My internally memorised calorie-counter went into absolute overdrive as I mentally tried to add up the calorific content of each rissole, not least the extra weeks and maybe months of dieting it was going to take to get rid of those babies off my hips. It did however bless me with a golden opportunity to ask about the etiquette of eating with ones left hand. I was fairly certain that I had read somewhere (probably in my trusty travel guide) that there are some very definite ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ when it comes to table manners in Indonesia. I certainly remembered that it’s considered extremely bad form not to eat something that someone has made for you, and that it’s highly likely that the person who made it won’t be eating, themselves, just sitting and watching you! (Great sabotage technique!) So yes, the left-handed issue when it comes to stuffing ones face really is an issue. Daisy being a ‘leftie’ herself told me that whenever one eats in public you absolutely have to put the food into your mouth with your right hand – no question about it – Oh well, at least I won’t be able to eat so fast!
Daisy, whose real name is Decembrio after the month she was born in, regailed us with wonderful tales about her life and her loves. She is an enchanting and captivating woman who once stole the heart of one of Winston Churchill’s grandsons many years ago. Daisy’s English beau to be, also lived in Jakarta and used to watch her watering the garden plants for weeks before finally plucking up the courage to ask her out. They met every Saturday night and played Scrabble together and that is how she learnt to speak English. They were very much in love and he pleaded with Daisy to move in with him, but being a devout Muslim it went against her religious beliefs and as pre-marital sex is a no-no she knew that she would, (like LaLa) forfeit the love of her family and her Mosque if she were to follow her heart.
It transpires that not only is Daisy a great cook and ‘saboteur par excellence’, she also organises and runs a charity in Jakarta and she is a property developer amongst other things. I was especially interested to hear about the charity as I have been busy emailing voluntary organisations and orphanages in the hope that I might be able to find voluntary work but have had no luck so far in replies to my emails. Daisy assures me she will find work for my currently idle hands! She asked if I would teach English to her and her children and that she would pay me, but I said no way and that I’d much rather she gave me some urgently needed Bahasa Indonesia lessons if and when she has the time.
Knowing that I don’t have an Indonesian mobile yet, Daisy gifted me a Nokia phone last night as a present along with a top-up ‘Pay as you go’ voucher and new sim card. I couldn’t believe her kindness .
An impromptu soiree marked my first proper social engagement in Jakarta and the fact that I shared it with four, wonderful Indonesians, made it even better.