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

Wonderful Hospitality

After our visit to the zoo Bob and Ies told the chauffeur to take us for a ride in the country again. As we drove into this little town it suddenly started to rain. When it rains it's like a monsoon and the roads become very muddy. We could hardly move our car through this little town as the street was packed with people and many Bechaks filled with people protecting themselves from the rain. 'We were the only ones sitting in this comfortable air-conditioned car. I could see the people looking at us and some of those faces weren't friendly at all. I must admit this was the first time on my trip that I felt very uncomfortable. Our car couldn't move very fast with all those masses of people around, and I felt like we were going to get choked by all those people. I was glad when our chauffeur got us out of the village. On the way home we saw a Chinese pastry shop.

I was a little hungry and I asked Bob to stop so I could buy a few pastries. The pastries were not covered and were just laying in the open air. It was just a small village store. I should never have bought and eaten the pastries — the next day I was very sick with an upset stomach. I was so sick that I had to stay in bed and Ies went to her doctor and he gave her some pills for me. For a couple days I stayed home and rested. I tried to kill some time by watching some of the programs on the TV, but the only thing they were showing was like a puppet show. I was told that those puppets represented people and were telling historical stories. That's all they were showing all day long.

Since we couldn't go anywhere Ies suggested for Lu Lu to have a massage. It would help Lu Lu greatly with her arthritis problem in her legs. The lady who did the massaging was a professional and massaged Ies a few times a week. Lu Lu paid her $5.00 for a 1 1/2 hour massage. She used some kind of oil during the massaging and Lu Lu said she felt so much better after she was done. After a couple days of rest I felt so much better. We only had two more days left on our stay in Indonesia and we decided to visit Ies' brother who was a retired General of the Indonesian Army. He was lecturing part-time as a professor at the Jakarta University. He had seven daughters and three of them studied in the U.S.A. at some of the colleges in our area. We were very friendly with the ones who studied in the U.S.A. After a nice visit Ies took us home as it was time again to pack our bags for a return flight to Singapore. One suitcase was just filled with Batik material for most of our friends as gifts.

We were just getting used to our environment, our driver, and the maids in the apartment. All of the help in the apartment receive very low pay. Lu Lu and I gave them extra tips every day and they were very thankful. Most of the people who worked in the houses as domestic help have so little of life, but their hearts are kind and honest. We will miss all of them. Bob and Ies... We don't know how to thank them for their great care and hospitality. They just went out of their way to show us as much of Indonesia as they could. We were even offered a tip by plane to go and see the island of Bali, but since Lu Lu doesn't like flying we didn't go. I guess you could say we had the red carpet treatment. We left that interesting part of the world with joy, but also with some sadness, seeing those masses of people survive with so little in life and yet still have time to smile.

Ies and her chauffeur took us to the airport. We knew that the chauffeur was going to miss us. In the short time we stayed there he drove us everywhere, and we became very good friends. At the end of the day Lu Lu and I always bought things for him to take home to his family, especially soft drinks. They were very expensive and the chauffeur couldn't afford to buy them for his family. Mardy, the chauffeur, was very thankful for whatever we gave him. All of them asked us to come back soon and visit again. At the airport we sat and talked with Ies for about an hour before we could board the plane. Saying good-bye to Ies was very sad, but we knew that she visited Washington very regularly and would see us again. During the flight back to Singapore, Indonesia was still in my mind.

CONTINUED: Arrival in Bangkok
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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