I have to admit that I’ve been somewhat remiss in actively seeking Western friends here in Batam. Perhaps it’s the reluctance of making new friends when I don’t know how long I will be here. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know how long they will be here. Or maybe it’s because most of the guys are kind of a roughneck crowd from the oil and gas industry and I just don’t relate.
It’s not that I’m not on good speaking terms with a lot of the guys who live at Smiling Hill or visit Goodies on a regular basis. It’s just that I haven’t gone beyond that.
This week, I had an opportunity to have dinner with a Canadian who lives here permanently, and while I wasn’t sure if we would jell, he was insistent and what the hey! Mike is a regular diner at Goodies and I did a short profile on his company a few months back. He moved to Indonesia about 12-15 years ago and now has an established business selling gold and silver. He is apparently doing quite well, with a house that is actually two houses combined, three cars, including a Hummer, plenty of guy toys in the house (flat-screen TVs everywhere, 9 air conditioners), very expensive liquor and wines, a wine cellar. His kitchen even has two deep-fat fryers and a chef’s grill.
Mike’s wife, Becky, is very pretty, and they have two children, Joe, who is Becky’s from a previous marriage, and Alecia, who they adopted. Beautiful and nice kids. Becky’s mom and brother also live with them, typical of Indonesia.
After a tour of the house(s), which include a rabbit area in the second house and a small pool, we settled down for dinner and conversation. Mike’s a bit of a bragger but he and I and Becky talked for at least three hours. All the while, we were doing shots of a very good, very expensive, very clear sake. It changed my opinion of rice liquor. Mike regaled me with his stories of entertaining with $5,000 bottles of wine and such. I tried to find out more about them. The dining room walls were covered with framed pictures mostly of Mike and Becky, who he met in Jakarta seven years ago.
I would guess Mike is in his 50s and Becky is probably mid-30s.
Mike grilled up a rack of veal chops. That morning in my e-mail, he had sent me photos of the meat – wrapped, unwrapped, cut into steaks, seasoned and shrink-wrapped (really, photos of each stage). First, we had some Feta cheese with our sake, then the veal with baked potatoes and sauteed green, yellow and red peppers. More sake. After dinner, there was cognac and double expresso. He has an expresso machine, of course. When we were done eating, he shrink-wrapped two veal chops for me with a machine he has for that.
Mike’s driver brought me home and he sent the above picture the next day. I could get used to this.