Bule Gila: Tales of a Dutch Barman in Jakarta  by Bartele Santema


In a secluded corner of a shopping and entertainment complex in Jakarta lies an Amsterdam-style bar called BuGils, a contraction of   Bule Gila. Pronounced BU-leh GEE-lah, this is the Indonesian noun for “crazy foreigner” as well as the  Indonesian word for “naked.”
 
Indeed, the book lives up to its title. BuGils has had the dubious honor of hosting the most colorful collection of  locals and foreigners Jakarta has ever seen. The manager, Bartele Santema, has spent five years amongst these creatures and with a keen eye and sharp wit observed and documented their curious and sometimes unnerving behavior.
 
There’s the Colonel who upsets everyone. The Brit who buys used socks. The second-hand newspaper seller who is smelled before he is seen. The cook who moonlights as a mystic. The Dutchman who gets new teeth. All of these and more make up this anthology of riotously funny stories of life in Jakarta as seen up close through the eyes of a foreigner.
 
One of the most hilarious sections of the book is an appendix in the back called “You know you’ve been in Jakarta too long if…”  which contains such aphorisms as: “You’re willing to pay to use a toilet you wouldn’t go to within a kilometer of back home” and “You no longer wonder how someone making $200 per month can drive a Mercedes” and “You answer the telephone with “Hello” more than           two times.”
 
The author, originally from Friesland in Holland, has been in Indonesia since 1990 when he was left stranded by the closure of Iraqi Airlines. Bart, as the patrons of BuGils call him, is also the publisher of the popular Expat Newsletter, a weekly email that combines Indonesia related news and his own skewed opinions on current events. To subscribe, visit www.bartele.com or send an email to bartele@bugils.com. It’s worth it.
 
Bule Gila: Tales of a Dutch Barman in Jakarta by Bartele Santema, Equinox Publishing (www. EquinoxPublishing.com) 2005, ISBN 979-3780-04-5, 157 pages.
 
Available for Rp99,000 at Periplus Bookshops in the Bali Galleria and in the Matahari in Kuta, Warung Made in Seminyak, Ngurah Rai Airport (both international and  domestic terminals), in Gramedia Bookstores, and in Ary’s, Ganesha and Periplus bookshops of Ubud.
 
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Copyright@2005 PakBill
 
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