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Published: December 14th 2005
I'm taking the picture, so you won't find me in there. The team here works really hard but knows how to have fun.
I'm in a work meeting right, but the presentation is entirely in Indonesian, so I don't feel too bad about doing other, ahem, work. I have been trying to learn the language and I actually feel like I'm making quite a lot of progress in the 7 weeks I've been here. It's not a difficult language - there are no verb tenses or conjugations, so pronouns (he, she) and time-sensitive words (yesterday, tomorrow) are crucial. After all those years in NY, it's fun to be the foreigner for once. I get to mispronounce things in a cute way, smile and elicit sympathetic laughs from the native speakers.
Our meeting is being held in the kitchen because it is actually our only indoor meeting room. Most meetings are held outside but it is threatening to rain today. Everyone is barefoot because everyone is always barefoot here. You remove your shoes before entering any office, home, store... It's a nice custom actually. Floors are kept absolutely spotless (swept and mopped daily) and it really is too hot to deal with shoes. Slip-on shoes like flip-flops are the only practical footwear, thus making a mockery of my carefully purchased $60 sport-strap sandals.
Shoe rack outside the office
Everyone removes their shoes before entering any office, home or boutique.
Another thing about meetings is the smoking. Indonesian men take their smoking seriously - most women don't smoke. Tobacco has been a king crop here for centuries and the regional blend is a sweet-smelling clove cigarette. They're relatively cheap - about $1.50/pack. The presenter of the meeting is smoking along with most of the attendees. I actually don't mind the smell of clove cigarettes, it smells quite nice. But as I get to know these guys better, I can't help thinking that even though many are younger, I'll probably outlive them all. Very sad.
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