Monday, June 07, 2004

Ole-Ole And Field Reports

Ole-Ole and Field Reports

Besides the interesting nightlife, Bangkok is also a good place for shopping. Unfortunately (or fortunately), shopping doesn't rank high on my list of interests.

I am extremely lazy to shop--especially for things like clothes and shoes. All the shopping that I do whenever I go on a business trips are for other people. In Indonesia, women will never fail to ask you for ole-ole (gifts) whenever you go on a trip--even when you are only making a short day journey to Bandung. Jangan lupa ole-ole ya!.

Sometimes it can be quite a headache trying to figure out what ole-ole to buy. And the list of people you have to keep in mind can be quite a long one: in my case, besides my female colleagues, I also had to think of my "housemates"--Intan (housekeeping), Marlyn (frontdesk) and Wiwik (sales). If you are going to Bandung, you will never go wrong if you come back with their famous brownies.

But sometimes when the trip is a hectic one, you are forced to resort to some last minute foraging at the airport duty free shop. In such situations, chocolates and perfumes will usually do the trick of keeping the women happy.

Male friends will never ask you for ole-ole. They are actually harder to please. They will be more interested in your night activities and you are supposed to fulfill your responsibility by "checking out" certain nightspots on their behalf. And when you come back from your trip, you are obligated to submit a "field report" (FR). These FRs are often shared in conspiratorial tones over cigarettes at the fire-exit stairway or circulated in underground (male only) e-mailing lists. Some of these FRs which I occasionally receive--especially the Indonesian ones in the Betawi dialect--can be quite hilarious reading.

One can never go on a trip with a completely free mind. You always have to think of the people back home and the heavy "responsibility" that you have to fulfill. And good luck to you if you are coming back from a place like Bangkok--you can bet your male colleagues will never let you go with only chocolates and perfumes!

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