A Night at the Bintang Cafe

Let me set the scene:

Dinner at the Bintang Cafe in Yogyakarta, Central Java.  Bintang is one of the local beers, and also means star.  It seems a favorite watering hole for a lot of expats.

I am sitting alone at my table, drinking a Bintang (it is Happy Hour, after all).  From where I sit, I can see four other tables.

The table directly in front of me sits empty.

And just behind this is a table with four people.  The first is a boisterous Englishman who lives and works in Jakarta (he speaks loudly, so it is easy to hear much of what he says).  Together he sits with a young Indonesian man who is doing his best Seattle grunge impression – long, dirty hair on the verge of dreads, flannel shirt just as dirty as his hair, sleeves rolled to three quarters length, unbuttoned, and atop a plain grey tshirt – a man from Algeria, and an American woman named Maya (I overheard).  She looks the hippie type, and carries a shoulder bag with the likeness of Bob Marley stenciled on the front.  The Englishman is willing to engage anyone in conversation, and has found a willing party to his left.

At this table sits an aging Dutchman (orang Belanda) with a young, petite Indonesian prostitute (I saw her here the night before with a different man of the same description – there was a black out in Yogya last night, and I came to the Bintang Cafe to read and drink tea by candlelight).  When asked by the Englishman, this petite woman introduces the Dutchman as her very, very best friend.

And lastly, to my left is another couple of the same description, and older Dutchman with a young, petite Indonesian woman.  They are with a child, though it is difficult to say whether he is the father.  The couple seems married, and the child is such a color that he is likely biracial.  The woman, when I look her way, seems quite eager for my attention, quick to make eye contact and to offer a smile.

The cafe is open air, and smells faintly of urine.

No one was there/save only for/the food.  Which I alone,/being a poet,/could have given them./But I/had only my eyes with which to speak.

William Carlos Williamsfrom The Host

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