Monday, April 20, 2009


Our nightlife tour began at a massage parlour in Jakarta’s Pasar Jahat, a scruffy dimly-lit area containing shops and stalls selling everything from batik to bananas. From the parlour’s plush reception area, with its pink sofas and a glass tank containing an albino python, Fergus and I were escorted upstairs to our respective curtained cubicles in what looked like a hospital ward. The air conditioning was freezing. I examined the sheet on my bed and noticed the hairs and little flakes of skin left behind by previous occupants. My tummy began to misbehave. Could it be ‘Jakarta tum’?

"Satu jam?" said a figure appearing suddenly inside the cubicle and then disappearing before I could reply.

I removed my shoes and lay on the bed. A mosquito hovered somewhere above my head. My bloated tummy rumbled.

"Satu jam," announced the woman who had crept back into the cubicle. She was not young, she was not pretty and she had filthy fingernails. Where had these fingers been?

"Dutch?" she asked, as she began to haul off my socks. There was something callous about her mouth and she had the sniffles.

"English," I replied, while holding on to what remained of my clothing.

"You like massage here?" she said pointing somewhere at my middle.

"No thank you. Tidak boleh. It’s my shoulders that hurt."

With her cold wet hands she began torturing my toes and eventually reached my appendix scar an area which is peculiarly sensitive.

"Ouch. Not there. Tidak disana."

She tittered and pressed even harder. She didn’t like me.

"My shoulders. Here," I said.

After half an hour she began yawning and looking up at the ceiling. After thirty five minutes she stopped altogether.

"You have shower now. You give me tip," she said.

"I’m supposed to have an hour. Satu jam. If you want a tip, invest in Microsoft and avoid the Jakarta stock market."

She wasn’t listening so I got dressed and pulled back the curtain to make my exit.

"You give me tip," she said, grasping my arm hard.

I shook loose and went downstairs to wait for Fergus who eventually appeared with a slight grin on his face.

"What was she like?" I asked.

"A Sundanese girl. Really helped the old shoulders. Your massage?"

"Oh, fine," I lied.

Gamesman's Bar
Pop Gun
The Bintang Disco
The Ranamok and the J Bar Bogor

1 comment:

WayanHenri said...

Very nice story about tukang pijat!