Lessons In Life (Bridgette Bryant)

Officially my best client ever.

The trip got extended due to screwed up M & E works provided by the client’s contractors, which I had expected given the fact that no site inspection was scheduled prior to installation. In spite of the glitches at site, Chea and I made extra efforts to rectify their work although not within our job scopes, like drilling through and grouting parts of the walls to re-route the electrical wires. It also didn’t hurt that the client have a few personal workshops nearby. Something which we normally do not do for our usual clients because most of these mistakes are due to fickle-minded clients and shoddy contractors who would not hesitate to push the blame to us for trying to rectify their mistakes. That remains true to this day and I’ve learnt my lesson not to entertain any more last minute changes requested by clients, especially from the local ones, since the one whose pockets eventually get burnt tend to be mine. And just when you start thinking that perhaps your future lies elsewhere, some people offer a glimmer of hope that any kind of problems are worth enduring at least for the chance to meet these selfless souls.

It is always a relief to complete any projects and return home to your own family as soon as possible. But I have to admit, it was a bit hard this time around. There seemed to be a mutual feeling for the relationship to continue further. For goodness sake, it’s almost like I’m describing about leaving a girlfriend. šŸ˜›

These people I really need to thank from the bottom of my heart are an Indonesian couple in their 60’s who spared no effort with their hospitality and made sure there was always food and drinks available throughout the installation period in their house. It goes without saying that within the 5 days I was there, I’ve basically tasted every single Indonesian food available in Jakarta from the ones brought to us in the house to the nightly restaurant visits. Their relatives and friends who came by the house from time to time were also a joy to know. And how can I forget the old man who kept pushing unfiltered sticks of Sampoerna Dji Sam Soe towards me every time he saw me without a cigarette in hand. You made me full of smoke if not food my dear friend. And seeing my client who’s an Atheist, shake hands and wishing “Minal Aidin Wal Faizin” to the common Muslim people he bumps into irregardless whether he knows them personally, was a humbling and personal lesson for me. That coupled with a few one-to-one conversations on the way businesses work in Indonesia, from the influential puppets of the government to how things can never be rushed like in Singapore. There were a few hints dropped and I guess it’s entirely up to me to decide on them.

My stay in Sheraton Media Hotel & Towers was very comfortable, though security was a little too tight for my liking. Due to my penchant for wanting to see the real and gritty side of any city I go to, I often walked from the hotel to the nearby areas at night and also paid one of the many bejajs to just go around the city till 3 am. The former not really a good idea due to the numerous shady characters along the roadsides, whereas the latter offered some form of anonymity. If the occasional poor people you see walking aimlessly during the day are not enough to enlighten you on the vast difference between the country’s rich and poor, seeing families sleeping by the dirty roadsides with only thin blankets separating them from the cold should be enough of an eye opener to make you appreciate your own comfortable surroundings at home, no matter how small it is. What I couldn’t stand was watching street kids around Ooyah’s age clinging to their mothers who were busy rummaging through the trash for anything worth salvaging.

I really don’t know if Jakarta is worth bringing my own family to for holidays, although the couple did offer to let us put up in their house whenever we come back to Jakarta. The city’s polluted and one gets a clear sign as the plane descends from the white and blue skies into Jakarta’s grey air. The Indonesian hospitality is however something one can’t seem to get in other nearby countries. And that itself … is worth it.

As it is, I’ve already started designing the second floor pantry and current kitchen’s extension, the measurements of which I was asked to take as I was just leaving the house on the final night. Another kitchen is also in the pipeline, as soon as the plans to their Bandung residence gets clearance from the authorities. I guess when business relationships get personal, opportunities come easily … and then some.

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~ by blackcadillac73 on October 12, 2008.

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