We sheltered ourselves all day Sunday. We never even called the car,
choosing instead to lounge, swim, put away another suitcase-full of clothes.
Saturday afternoon and Sunday will be cook/housekeeper Nani’s time off, so
we’ll fend for ourselves those days (cooking and cleaning up after oneself –
doesn’t it seem gauche?). Although she lives on the premises, she’ll likely
leave on her time off to go visit family. I’m not sure if that means another
side of the city, some outlying kampung, or a town elsewhere on the island.
All four of us went to Alissa’s office Monday to handle a few more registration
formalities. This involved driving to two different government offices, signing
a few documents, and recording fingerprints. The process was simple; it
was the movement between offices that consumed much of the morning. I
stepped into the gentleman’s room in one of the offices and (please be
forewarned, the following passage may venture into the indelicate, as it will
include the word “urinal”) was briefly vexed by what appeared to be a
somewhat non-standard urinal (see… there’s that word). Upon exiting one
of the stalls – which seemed the safer choice and which deserve a
paragraph of description all their own – I observed a notice posted over the
spigots positioned over the presumed urinal: “For Retual Washing Only”
(sic). One can imagine the consequences had I not opted for a stall.
Acquiring handphones for the girls was another minor trial (we’ll send the
numbers along via e-mail, presuming we ever get that set up). We are still
unsure whether we simply bought the phone, whether some sort of plan
comes with it, whether a SSIM card confers the phone number, or whether
we did everything wrong.
I’ve been invited to a sort of newcomers meeting on Wednesday morning
that may confirm the latter. It’s a monthly meeting conducted by the
American Women’s Association (and at which men are infrequent but
welcomed, I’m told). The topics may include various matters pertaining to
the household staff, recommendations on appropriate tipping when out and
about, and suggestions on how to secure the family garbage. That last item
is less about identity theft, which one might worry about in the U.S., than
about preventing the indigent from combing through your trash and
spreading it across the street, subsequently inviting local stray animals and
rodentia. The American Women’s Association (AWA) is a local service
organization that has also produced an essential-phrase book that we’ve
been carrying with us since the day we arrived. I expect the meeting and the
organization to be of considerable assistance in getting us settled here.
Ideally, our driver would be able to provide us certain clues about getting
settled, provided he had a grasp of at least the very rudiments of English.
Alas, the first driver the company assigned us was of little help in that
regard. We’ve switched drivers beginning today (Tuesday). Although the
first driver, Ama, was certainly punctual and a capable driver, there was
always the uncertain matter of whether he was taking us where we wanted to
go. Twice in two days I thought we were headed to either the large
electronics store or the grocery store, only to be delivered (with a certain
amount of pride, it seemed) at one of several Ace Hardware stores. I’d be
looking for some sort of indication of where we were headed when he would
point up to the sign cheerfully and announce, “Ah-che.” Everyone has
assured us that the only appropriate move is to switch drivers. We have
about five more weeks of service from company-assigned drivers before we
must hire our own.
The next staff-related item of concern is the delicate matter of Musli. Our
gardener/pool man has expressed that he prefers only strictly defined
duties. He will not assist Nani with any interior tasks – not even carrying the
big, 19-liter water bottles into the house. As it happens, Nani has a dear
friend with whom she has worked for years and who is available. I must now
discuss this with Musli who, as part of his gardener’s tool kit, is in possession
of very many instruments designed to sever, hack, and truncate. I hope he
takes it well.