"Lots of Indonesians getting ill recently," I said to Tom, as we sat down to a beer in the bar at the middle-range Marco Polo Hotel, "It’s amazing how many people get typhoid and TB."
"Too true," said Tom, who was looking vaguely in the direction of a long-legged young Indonesian girl seated on a black bar stool.
"I came across a kampung kid who nearly died of typhoid."
"They die of tetanus every week in the kampungs," said Tom, looking serious.
"And how are things with you ?" I asked, knowing that Tom had invited me out to talk about his girl problems rather than typhoid.
"Better. I’ve done a deal with Kuntil."
"We had a long talk. I stayed quite calm about it all. I said she could have fifty million rupiahs and that was my final offer. She accepted and I got her to sign a piece of paper in which she promises to make no more trouble. We shook hands on that."
"That’s a lot of money."
"I wanted the thing settled. The lesson for me is that I’m not going to try any more long-lasting relationships with the locals."
"If I meet a girl in a bar, it’s for that night only."
"You don’t want to settle down?"
"The trouble with Kuntil was that, although she was nice to begin with, after a few weeks of living at my place there were problems. Things started to disappear. Money went missing. She asked for money for her relatives."
"Are you sure it was her that was taking things?"
"I found one of my watches in her handbag. Now, how could I marry a girl I couldn’t trust?"
"I see what you mean. But you did meet her in a karaoke bar."