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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Meeting a friend away from home

There were many other interesting restaurants we went to in Singapore. I did like the eating places in the old section of the city in China town. It was not very fancy but there were so many varieties of food and everything looked so appetizing.

The people who are well-to-do in Singapore are very lucky with having so many immigrant workers around from Malaysia. Most of them do all the dirty labor work. I noticed Pete's car was always neat and clean. A Malaysian man would come very early in the morning when most of us were still asleep, and clean and wash his car. He did that several times a week. This Malaysian man had several customers on the street where Pete lived. I am sure he made his living from this kind of work. Then Pete's mother had a Chinese lady who came to the house and did all the laundry and ironing. All we had to do was leave all of our dirty clothes in our room and at night everything was neatly put back in our room again. There was another Chinese lady who came and cleaned the house. All of them seemed to be very happy with what they were doing, and all of them were treated like they were part of the family.

From Singapore we planned to visit some friends in Jakarta, Indonesia for a week. We needed a visa and plane ticket. Pete was so kind and took me all over the city of Singapore to get this trip worked out. First we went to a bank as I needed some cash. When we arrived at the bank, in front of the entrance stood a Gurkha in uniform with a fully automatic Sten. I wanted to take a picture of him, but he told me very sternly to keep on walking. With that automatic Sten in his hand and his finger on the trigger I didn't hesitate for one minute and kept on walking. With that kind of protection in front of the bank I am sure that bank robbers will think twice. That's what we need in some of our large cities in our banks. It would certainly stop a lot of our bank robberies.

As I got my money and airline tickets we went to the Indonesian Embassy for my visa. I was surprised seeing so many tourists filling out papers for their visa. After filling out several papers, I handed them to one of the clerks and he noticed my gold Bulova watch. The clerk told me he'd like to buy it from me. I told him I was very sorry, but it was a gift from my wife and was not for sale. Even after that he kept insisting that I sell it to him.

At night Lu Lu and I packed our suitcases again as our plane would leave at 10 AM the next day for Indonesia. Pete took us to the airport. When we arrived at the airport, Singapore Airlines told us that our flight was one hour delayed. So we looked for a nice spot in the restaurant lounge and Pete and I ordered a few beers. While Pete and I were enjoying our beer and talking about our trip to Indonesia I noticed that the people across the table from us were talking in Dutch. What surprised me that most was that they were talking about my hometown. I told Lu Lu about it but she said, "don't you go over there, you never come back". So I stayed at my table and talked with Pete, but I was still curious why these people talked about my town. As we were called on, the intercom to board our plane I couldn't resist walking over to the table where those Dutch people were talking. I said hello in Dutch and one of the men got up from his seat and said to me, "are you Jeff?" I said yes, that's me. I looked at the man but didn't recognize him right away until he told me who he was. After 25 years away from Holland you don't recognize faces right away. What a small world to meet somebody from your hometown in Singapore. The man I met had known me since my childhood. One of his sisters lived next door to my mother's house. He told me that he and his friends came back from a vacation in Indonesia, and were on their way back to Holland. I told him to say hello to my mother, which he did as my mother told me later. This incident shows that you can never forget your past as some people intend to do, because you never know who you are going to meet, regardless of how far you might be away from home. It's a small world, that's what most people say.

CONTINUED: Arrival in Jakarta
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index