Originally posted by Scriabin
explain -- sounds interesting
WARNING: soap-opera-esque post follows
Hold onto your hats for a modest tale of small town tragedy in a far off land that could be anywhere. The Indonesian wife-of-an-Italian-white-guy "owner" of a local bar & cafe (called Laba-Laba or "spider" ) returned in January, leaving a one year old baby - who'd not yet taken first steps or uttered a first word - behind in Italy, and showing herself to be utterly emersed in a new an unfamiliar fanatacism.
She sacked the morning manager and the evening manager, who'd looked after the place for five years or so without fault and with cafe-defining personality. She replaced them with two very very serious christians - Pentacostals, it seems - who are not family members or conventional acquaintences, indeed there is a definite air of them having been "assigned" to her in some way. That's just my feeling: so strike it from the record if you want to find your own way to the truth of this whole matter. The three of them every day held a prayer session in the cafe. Right in the middle of the cafe, shortly after opening the shutters. This involved screaming, crying, faked speaking in tongues (faked? Well... is it hysteria, or are there those among us who can speak in tongues at 11.15am every day?), kneeling down, hands raised to the ceiling, tears streaming down their faces (I am not exaggerating). Customers visibly turned on their heels and sought coffee and fried banana elsewhere.
She had some awful "clowns on velvet" type Christian murals put up. She banned all non-Christian rock music and designated a dozen soporific and knuckle-biting CDs that had to be played at all time (I am an opinionated music lover, so strike "soporific and knuckle-biting" from the record if you want to rinse me out your own way to the truth). She closed the cafe on Sundays (real clever in a skin of yer teeth tourist sector). She discontinued the sale of liquor and wine (so now the only profitable things the cafe sells are food and juice, meaning their days are probably numbered).
Then it got a little nasty. She halved the salaries of all the Muslims (all but 1 of 10 people) saying "God does not want me to pay you what you were being paid before" (I am not joking or exaggerating), she doubled the pay of the one and only Catholic working there, saying "Jesus likes a hard worker" (verbatim, I am not joking).
She then she refused to pay the compulsory monthly Rp.150,000 fee for local bouncer services (yes, a racket, but a real service - I've seen it in action with fighting-drunk foreigners, and it's paid by every single cafe, and approved of by the police), so the 'preman' (local tough guys) said there would be trouble, to which she answered "The Holy Spirit will protect this cafe" (I am not joking). Ah but alas, the Holy Spirit didn't protect the cafe. The preman
came a week or so later and smashed up all the chairs and some of the tables. The police came and closed the cafe down indefinitely (i.e. until the cafe pays the preman, basically, which they now have after beeing shut for a week).
During the shutdown (which quite predictably had proved acheived nothing, except that the Holy Spirit does not work in the restaurant security business) the staff were on unpaid 'leave' (looking for jobs, for sure, 2-3 have already gone) and when one rang up while it was still closed and asked what was the state of play and reminding the owner that the staff were basically suffering their way through a financial disaster, the owner replied that "I am suffering too. And don't forget that Jesus suffered for us all." This was moot in the minds of the Muslim staff. Even the Christian barmaid failed to truly get
the Jesus angle. A more relevant angle was the plain fact that the owner could no longer be trusted to keep her staff safe in the workplace. The trashing of the place had sent customers packing and had terrified the staff.
The Catholic barmaid, already embarrassed by her pay rise amidst all the Jesus-mandated slashing of wages, then found herself under withering pressure - which she steadfastly withstood - to join in the daily crying-speaking-in-tongues-screaming sessions, even to the point of being threatened that "Jesus won't think you're a hard worker anymore if you refuse to pray with us". (more or less verbatim). The barmaid is trying to find another job. Today. Tomorrow. As soon as possible.
Here comes my armchair - or barstool - analysis...
My best guess is that her marriage was on the rocks and a baby was produced as a kind of 'glue'. This came after 7 childless years, the childlessness may well have been a pre-nuptual agreement based on the husband's preference - along with 'we'll live in Italy, not Indonesia'. So perhaps the baby was produced to try and hold them together. But it didn't work. This is my conjecture here, remember. There may have possibly been interference from fussing Italian in-laws who may have always thought their son married beneath himself - he met her in the same cafe 8 years ago, when she was a barmaid herself. She then basically has a mental breakdown - walks out on a baby who cannot yet walk or talk and spends 3 months (still counting) in Yogyakarta (this city of 3,000,000 in Central Java), filling her now empty life with raw religion (could have been booze instead, or adultery, or model railways), never opening her mouth or deciding anything without citing Jesus, God or the Holy Spirit (and I stress that I am not exaggerating about the stuff that's getting said and the justifications being dished out... "Jesus has told me to do this", "God wishes it this way, I do not dare disobey him", "The Holy Spirit hates to hear you complain about money, and I'll hear no more of your complaining" ).
A parallel theory is that the preman may have had more than their monthly 15 dollars on their mind, but instead the local chapter of Islamic Fundementalist F.P.I. (daft bunch of thugs, if it weren't "Islam" it'd be the local soccer team that justified their strutting, fulminations, gangsterish violence, and overtight bandanas) is behind the trashing and closure of the cafe after the shocking treatment of its mostly Muslim staff at the hands of a sad and empty woman who appears to have been swallowed up by people from a Pentacostal cult.
Anyone think I am getting this all wrong?