Pattaya, July 8th, 2009



I’m not too sure about these days, following the rise of Muslim fundamentalism, but in the 1970’s Jakarta was not a town which I would recommend for those with a drinking problem.

As the resident expat financial controller, I was given a whole house to myself, complete with servants and fully stocked bar, located in the up market, (expat) area of Kebayoran, within walking distance of my office.

If my boss, who I had previously worked for in Port Harcourt, wasn’t an alcoholic, then he was the best imitation of that condition that I have ever seen. On top of that, he was totally addicted to sex, and would pick up girls at any hour of the day or night, on a whim, and whisk them off to a hotel or any room which happened to be available for an hour. I recall once taking a business trip with him to Singapore, and he could rarely get out of the hotel lift without finding something to his liking in there with him and then persuading her to having a quick fling in his room.

Anyway, when I arrived in Jakarta, I was welcomed with open arms, and was immediately ushered out  to a local massage parlour, within site of the office, whereupon  we immediately took our places at the bar, and spent the afternoon drinking and whoring. When he finally determined that we had better make an appearance in the office, he introduced to me to his ‘expenses system’, whereby I paid all the bills, would subsequently claim them on expenses, which would then be approved by none other than himself – the General Manager. What a wonderful arrangement!

Needless to say, I embarked on yet another wild, drinking career. With all the money and ‘expenses’ I could ask for, I caroused with  some of the most beautiful women I had ever set eyes on, and drank myself silly in a feast of bars, nightclubs and massage parlours.

There was a large pub/tavern near the office which was run by a British couple who co-owned it with a Indonesian General. It was the ‘in’ place for expats, and had good western food. There was a very large circular, central, bar, and they even had live music of an evening. It was one of those “wonders of Asia’ where freelance whores would rub shoulders at the bar with expats, husbands and wives, and respectable Indonesians – male and female.

My day would invariable start there, with my boss, and a ‘liquid’ lunch. The pub had a number of very attractive, seductively dressed waitresses, who were eager to serve. My boss would sit there and look at them, trying to decide which one to chat up. He would say: “Mobi, have you humped that one?” I would shake my head, not really being in his league. Then he would say: “How about that one, have you humped her?” And so on, and all the time getting more and more pissed. After a couple of hours we would adjourn to his favourite massage parlour, where more drinking and whoring would follow. On good days, we might spend as much as an hour or two in the office. On bad days, we never saw the inside of it.

By the way, I should mention that my boss, an American, was also married to an American, and she would wait patiently at their Jakarta home every night for him to return, every day. Rarely, did he do that before midnight.

Of course this situation couldn’t last forever, and word started to get around that the General Manager wasn’t doing a great deal of ‘managing’.

Around two months after my arrival in Jakarta, my boss was summoned back to California for ‘business discussions’, and never returned, and I never saw him again. His wife was still in Jakarta at the time, and it was several weeks before she departed, as she was left to pack up all their stuff and tidy up all the loose ends. I felt quite sorry for her, because she knew what her husband had been getting up to. She knew that I was one of his “partners in crime”, but for some reason she took a liking to me, (or maybe took pity on me – who knows?), and she took me under her wing for those few weeks  she remained in Jakarta, and was very kind to me. I was still drinking like there was no tomorrow though, and I remember to this day the struggle I had to get out of bed and go with my driver  to her house and escort her to the airport to make sure she flew out without any hitches. My hangover was enormous, but I owed it to her, and I gave the send-off she deserved.

After she left, things went downhill rapidly. Up to that point, in spite of all my drinking and whoring, I had just about been able to keep up with my work, but the drinking got worse, and it wasn’t long before the books were hopelessly behind, and the monthly finance reports to head office started to dry up. For a while I made up the numbers, but even those ceased eventually, when it became clear that Head Office was having problems in accepting that the figures were based in any kind of reality.

As my work situation deteriorated, along with my drinking, I rarely went to the office. If I went at all, it would be after 6.p.m. California time, to make sure they couldn’t call me on the telephone. It was still the days before fax machines, but they sent me ‘yards’ of telexes every day, demanding to know what was going on, but I never replied.

Eventually, I realised the game was up, and it was only a matter of time before I would be fired, and a replacement  sent to sort everything out. So I decided to ‘jump before I was pushed’ and gave in my notice. It was accepted, no doubt with a great deal of relief, and one of my old mates from my drinking days in  London, was sent out from California, (he was now a senior honcho in Head Office Finance), to arrange a hand over.

Before he arrived, I had an attack of conscience, and started a valiant attempt to get everything up to date. I was only half way there when my old friend arrived, but together we worked day and night, and within a couple of weeks everything was back where it should have been and the books were spick and span.

It didn’t change anything regarding my future employment, but at least I felt better in myself. My departure date was booked, and I spent the remaining days, packing and arranging my shipment to the UK.

I was still drinking, often with my old friend from California, but I guess it tapered off a little to allow me to do what I had to do.

In all, I was in Indonesia just under a year. I had travelled extensively during my time there, had learnt to speak passable Indonesian (I am blessed with an aptitude for languages – even when drunk), and had many adventures with women. Oh yes, I had even spent the obligatory night in a Jakarta jail. The details are vague, but I believe some Indonesian Mafia were after me for something I had done in a drunken state, and from what I recall, I was locked up for my own protection.

Finally, I clambered onto the plane that would take me away from Indonesia forever, and I remember it vividly because I was so hung-over, that I never thought I would make it alive to my destination, Bangkok. I was shaking like a leaf; I was drenched in sweat, and my head felt as though it had been cracked open with a sledge hammer. But make it, I did.

Yet never once did I then and for many years to come, even consider the possibility that I may have a problem with alcohol, or that I was an alcoholic and couldn’t control my drinking.

I was just a young man enjoying life to the full.