Sunday, April 23, 2006


The Pub

It’s difficult to explain to your typical Asian the role the pub plays in the life of certain species of expat. Your Asian colleague after all finishes work and goes home to his or her family, to be surrounded by the dith and din of domestic bliss or hell depending on your viewpoint. Not so the single expat. After working long hours they have the option of returning to their wonderful, but empty, housing where they can watch dross American sitcoms, or they can nip down the pub.

The pub becomes the surrogate family for so many young expats. In a strange new country full of people speaking funny languages, new work habits, they crave familiarity. Living abroad is a lot more bearable when you can get down the Royal Arms and enjoy a pint and Shepherd’s Pie regularly. The bar staff and punters become kith and kin. The manager becomes the father figure, the person you turn to when you need money, or more specifically, a tab!

The waitresses become your sisters, nieces, cousins. You enjoy the banter with them, you flirt with them but it’s all a laugh, you don’t want to take it further, it would be like dipping your pen in the company’s ink well. You look on with amusement when newcomers or tourists come in and try it on with the girls while you grin smugly in the background; both you and her have seen it all before. Mind you there is a slight twang of jealousy if someone gets a tad too close.

Then there are your mates. The lads you play pool with, go on the hash, go on the beer with. You’re thicker than blood you guys, you share everything together. You share the tab, the taxi. If you hit the Blok or the ‘Pong you may well share other things. You’re halfway round the world living in an exciting, vibrant city yet the need is there for family, for closeness. It ain’t a bad life, especially when you consider the alternatives. Weekend trips to Kemchix and dinner parties at the wedding cake houses in Pondok Indah…

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