A Jakarta Fairy Tale

by Jessie

I arrived at Dyah and Partners eager to meet with Andrew Sriro, an American lawyer, for my first in-person interview for a Globalist story. I began our interview by asking him about the topic of my article, a draft bill requiring  foreign men to deposit Rp 500 million (about $50,000) with the Ministry of Religion before marrying a Muslim Indonesian woman. After answering a few of the questions I had prepared, Sriro decided that his own experience would give my article some “color,” so he decided to “tell me a fairy tale.” Once upon a time, he began, he saw a beautiful Indonesian woman in the airport and, dared by his friends, asked her for her number. Midway through their second date, Mr. Sriro realized that the woman, Davie, was a princess, the daughter of the Sultan of Surakarta. They married a year later, but the Sultan, angry that his daugher didn’t marry an Indonesian man, disowned her. As Mr. Sriro regaled me with his tale and showed me pictures of people bowing down to kiss the feet of his wife’s father, I copied down every word.

After learning Mr. Sriro’s entire life story – including his law school GPA, how much his house in Jakarta cost, and his childrens’ royal titles –  it was time to head back to the hotel. However, as it does everyday at about 3:30pm in Jakarta, it had begun to rain. Really rain. The streets outside Mr. Sriro’s office were flooded with no less than a foot of water, so he offered to have his driver take me back after dropping him off at home. After a half-hour, one kilometer drive, we arrived at Mr. Sriro’s home in a quiet gated community. The car hadn’t taken well to the flood, so he invited me inside while we waited for the car to cool down.  Entering his house, I was immediately greeted by  his seven household staff, including three nannies for his two children. There wasn’t much time for introductions, however, because the small courtyard in Mr. Sriro’s house was an inch away from flooding his living room. For the next forty-five minutes I sat awkwardly on the sofa, my offers to help rebuffed, as Mr. Sriro and his staff bailed out the courtyard one bucket at a time.

Finally, with the crisis averted and Mr. Sriro’s driver relieved from bucket duty, we set off for the hotel. After two hours in traffic,  I arrived at the hotel safe and sound, if not more than a little amazed by the absurdity that one afternoon in Jakarta can bring.