11 October 2012

The tale of the many helpers

For some of you blog readers, the idea of a full time maid, driver and/or nanny may seem quite foreign - you may consider this a luxury reserved for the fortunate few?! But here in Jakarta, what is foreign, is a home without this household help. It is a part of everyday living for Indonesians and foreigners alike; and the more you have the more normal you are. Unfortunately, stories of abuse and mistreatment towards these workers are all too common and send our western blood boiling; this treatment is just part of the so-called "norm" and it's justified and excused by the guilty as "... financial provision for millions of Jakartans".

So, our quest to find a maid was not so much an effort to fit in (believe it or not) but it was more a helpful-cultural treat that would allow our 12 hour days to become more bearable. So after we settled in, we set out in search of a house 'helper'. We had seen, heard about and experienced first hand this cultural norm, and so we "thought" it would be easy enough to manage. But our quest to find a helper became quite a saga due to the many interesting characters we met along the way. Allow me to explain in order of appearances.

Helper No. 1: Young Anise. Anise lived in a luxurious, ritzy area neighbouring my parents house in Jakarta. She met us; seemed happy; and promised she would return one week after Lebaran which would mean we would have to wait for her longer than anticipated. We organised her a taxi following her celebratory week and she arrived at my parents' home. All was good until she decided to faint in response to an anxiety attack at the thought of living and working with two clay-faced expats. Mmmmm I put it down to the size of Nath's nose, hehe.

Helper No. 2: Forty-two year old Atune. Yet again, she lived up the road from my parents and seemed an answer to our prayers when she declared in translation that she liked dogs. On arriving in Jakarta to pick her up, she made a quick dash in and out of the house declaring that her Chinese-boss was threatening her with violence if she left and therefore couldn't leave. Brilliant NOT! This is distressingly common.

Helper No 3. Twenty one year old Siti. You'll be happy to know that this young lady just turned up on our doorstep. She came with an innocent looking face and not a lot of experience; but we were open and excited to just have someone with the guts to wanna be in the same room as us. A very long story cut short - Siti ended up lying, stealing, disappearing and doing drugs all in the space of a week! Needless to say we decided that she wasn't the helper for us. (Picture the scene....trying to explain to Siti, for reasons previously outlined, that she was no longer employed in our house. The explanation had to be craftily imparted using only charade gestures and google translate to help. It was a frenzy of disapproving looks, predicted text and general theatrical mayhem)

But ....rest assured and know that this fairy tale has a happy ending .... and here it is.

Helper No. 4: Young, yet capable Tri, who as I type is sitting in our little house now helping us out! She arrived a week ago with passion, excitement and eagerness to learn about how these white people walk and talk. It's only early days but I'ma thinking she's a keeper and as we always hoped, will be a blessing to us and vice versa.

The lovely Tri and her new household friend Missy!
So there you have it - The tale of the many helpers - A tale that has taken us on an interesting journey which adds to the welcomed experiences and stories that we knew we signed up for.
That's all people. Thanks for reading,

Nomes xo
P.s. I can't write a blog about helpers and not mention the warm and cuddly Siti (another Siti) who lives and works for my Ma and Pa. Although not directly our employee, she is sharp as a button, has a great sense of humour and basically looks after us every weekend. She sacrificially welcomes us and the work we create, with arms open wide. Although, you do not read blogs Siti - We thank you!!!!



  1. Haaaa! that's hilarious, reads like a movie script! Hope Tri is going well xJ

  2. no i think that was the berrysabroad movie script coming to a cinema near you!! good night IRENE!!!
    glad you have found someone suitable.