Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Men's Town Like No Other.

'In The Brothel' by Van Gogh
Uploaded by Bergen.

Chapter 1

You gotta have a good mix of boozing, gambling and womanizing before you can call a choice location a first-class men's town like no other. What you won't be needing in a town like this is a high-class institution like a country club, or an opera house to give a reason for genteel folk to put on their fine clothes, black tie nice shoes, women in high-class berkemban dress, the way housewives in the village put on kain ssahang going to the communal telaga to bathe themselves into a mermaid talking about silly things you and I shouldn't be concerned with at this point of time.

An opera house won't do the male citizens of this town any good. What they need is a whorehouse. And we've got one on Jalan Besar, a stretch of road that starts from the three-way junction where the pasar is and it goes all the way to Sura Gate where the train crossing is. It can go further to anywhere for all I care. The road has got several names since then. One time it was Jalan Yahya Ahmad but PAS changed it to Jalan Haji Abidin as part of their image branding exercise. I don't know enough about local politics to know for sure if they have changed the name of this road to something more appropriate like Jalan Hadhari or something. The point is, we've got a whorehouse and this is a good thing for a men's town like Dungun, a thriving location with enough of everything to send a man straight down to hell, or up a flight of stairs of the whorehouse to do business with the pretty women brought in by a guy who knows inside out the logistics of inviting the women from all over the country to come for a grand tour of this side of the state. Whoever that guy is, he don't need no advertisement other than word of mouth to start a parade of men heading toward the whorehouse, eager to be the first in line to chat up the women who don't know any better how to speak the language other than abang!abang!abang!

So this guy Usop B***t (his real nickname) goes around the drinking shop talking hush hush with a group of men sitting at a table drinking down bottle after bottle of Guinness that leave them red in the face, eyes drooped like a flabby cheeks of a very very very old grandfather going to die tonight. Whatever Usop B***t has to say evidently doesn't please the women or the Chinaman sitting behind a counter because everyone knows that Usop B***t is the appointed regional representative of the guy who runs the whorehouse whenever there's fresh women come in to town, and he's obviously here to perform his official duty spreading the good news to the male citizens of this town face to face, nose to nose, eye to eye. And everyone knows this technique works like magic on the men because no sooner than he says something, they will quickly get up, leaving the women in baju kebaya and kain susun, their face black with anger, and disappointment now that customers are scampering like rats on a ship taking in water, sinking faster than the captain can say, where's my hat and my pants?

At the whorehouse the good citizens of this town miggle about smoking one cigarette after another at the entrance leading into a long passage-way, ending all the way at the back of the ground floor. To the left, a steep flight of wooden staircase opens up to a lounge where more men loiter about puffing more cigarettes than they can inhale. A Chinaman in a pair of shorts and singlet goes about busy as a bee talking hey ho hey ho like a school headmaster ordering the students to line up or they won't get no free ice-cream on a hot afternoon of a sports day. You walk towards the corridor to peep into the rooms at women fat as dolphins wriggling about in bed looking at you with a pair of eyes that go right through your heart that you go over to Usop B***t to hand him the cigarette he asked you to buy and run out of there real quick because you don't want to be struck by a lightning that can come down from the sky to punish you for being so brave to come to this heaven of a place that smells of soap, talcum powder and sweat all mixed real good in this men's town like no other.


Blogger Nurelhuda said...

My snwer to your question in the comments area of my last blog post

10:05 PM  
Blogger NBB said...

men...and their lust...could not understand them...

and what were you doing in there? sebagai pemerhati bebas ke?

10:38 PM  
Blogger dr in the house said...

Nurul- FYI, Bergen was out there at that age to collect facts and data for this book he's writing!

7:35 AM  
Blogger Diran Kesuma said...

If you notice in the brothel, the drinks are all greenish. those are absinthe, Van Gogh's favorite, as well as Hemingway's. they contain wormwood, a type of herb now banned in europe. they make you hallucinate and see things better. that is wht their works are out of this world. they see things we don't see.

9:11 AM  
Blogger thinktankgal said...

Bergen....Jalan Hadhari??? Only you can thought of it :P....Hope all is well with ya *wink*! :)

9:46 AM  
Blogger Noni said...

@ Diran Kesuma

that's an interesting theory. Thank u.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

... and do you think this place (and the likes of it) still exist over there? Or have they all moved to Bukit Bintang or Chow Kit (but they (the women) must have all aged by now, eh?) Not a pretty sight to imagine, actually. And what's a man to do if they are all gone? Maybe the likes of those men are all gone too ....

10:43 AM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

kan Bergen dah bagitau dia pegi hantaq rokok kat what's his name tu?Haaa don t tell me I am the only one who noticed that ?This little boy kenai all the terror creatures at such a tender age, reminds me of Oliver twist.
BUt Bergen ...sheesh don t ever call those hapless women livestock ...urgh distasteful...they got there because of circumstances in their lives and of course men's insatiable appettites

10:50 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Dr Nurelhuda: Thank you very much, ma'am. It's good to know that the action isn't entirely physical but chemically induced by something inside you that you have very little control of.

Dr Nurul Bahiyah Baharudin: I believe lust isn't entirely bad. It's good when we know how to use it as powerful motivating factor to do positive thing like to become a better person. In a way lust is like the powerful fuel to drive you to do something. Of course it's bad when we can't deal with it that make us do things we don't want people to do to us.

Does this make sense to you, because I am beginning to get very very confused with my own sentence here.

Dr Roza: Yes, I was on a secret mission important to the nation.

Folks, once again, we've got three doctors in a row.

Diran Kesuma: It's not the same worm that they put in tequilla, is it?

Thinktankgal: Yes, ma'am. It's going pretty well. I hope.

Noni: I believe it isn't a theory, Noni, not when comes to what men are willing to drink to make it do something to them like achieving nirvana of creativity.

10:53 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Dr Nurelhuda: I feel so guilty for that word. I've got that corrected. Your comment has initiated an entry about a friend whom everyone says is the child out of wedlock. We became friends because in many ways, we were the same. Will write about it today.

11:02 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

So, how much did it cost those days?

11:04 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Anedra: Depending on which side of the town. The women in kebaya and kain susun charged between fifteen to twenty outside their working hours. The ones at the institution mentioned in this entry charged between thirty to sixty. At that time the price of a brand new bicycle was a hundred fifty.

Comparably, if my mathematical talent is of any use here, that works out to something like a hundred to less than two hundred per session.

11:34 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

QOTH: It will never go away. It will come back in different format but it's the same just like it has always been since time immemorial. It may vary from one location to another, from a high-class location to a low down alley, or even deep in the heart of a palm oil plantation. It's the same, and it will always stay the same. It's a big industry involving a lot of people, bringing money to some, misery to others, and disease to a great many who support this whole thing.

It will never go away.

11:49 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

I actually meant the cigarettes. LOL.

Just joking!

In Batam these days it's like SGD25 per session (not cigarettes) or so I heard. Not that I know what services are provided lah..

12:07 PM  
Blogger Nurelhuda said...

Quote:the action isn't entirely physical but chemically induced by something inside you that you have very little control of.

This is true, any addiction even addiction to violence becomes a compulsive act that we almost cannot control. Having said that, if the behaviour as you said will get one either in jail in hospital or in the graveyard then it is high time something is done about it , like seeking help. There is a huge different between a brainless lout who does such a thing than a thinking man who does it but very much aware something is not quite right somewhere.

12:19 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Anedra: LOL. I don't remember the price of the cigarettes but I remember the brands. I think the one I tried was Consulate, more like today's version of Salem. There's 555, Gold Leaf. I don't know the name but this one has ace of spade. And yes, how can I forget, there's a brand with the illustration of a cowboy on a horse shooting a rifle at full gallop. They called it rokok tembak, I think. I copied the illustration but it turned out horrible because I didn't know how to scale a drawing then. Used to insert the illustrations in between the leaves and the flowers of a batik design Aunt and I worked on. She discovered them and I got a good scolding for trying to do something foolish like that. LOL. You made me miss Aunt even more.

Dr Nurelhuda: Oh oh.

1:11 PM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

You were exposed to the harsh realities of life early on Berg. What did you make of it at that time? Did you know that you were witnessing human frailties at its most basic or did you accept them as part and parcel of life?

As an adult - I have to confess that this entry that you have so vividly describe through your own eyes is still mildly shocking.

2:25 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Lifebloom: Now this is going to be a difficult reply to write, but let me try it anyway.

I understood the notion of 'bad women' and the things they do from watching the women in kebaya and kain susun going about entertaining the customers at the dining shop I refer to in the entries.

Some of them lived in the rented houses behind where we stayed. I saw them in real life, in the domestic surroundings of the kampong, doing domestic things like cooking, bathing and washing the clothes at the communal telaga. And they behaved just like the women in the village, maybe a little too loud when they are together at the telaga, talking and laughing that it annoyed the women folk, which I believe, gave rise to gossips and insinuations that of the houses they lived in being turned into a brothel to entertain men who didn't want to be seen at the shop drinking, gambling and sinning.

A step further than this, I understood the notion of another kind of 'bad women' who were into this doing bad things full-fledged. Unlike the women who waited tables who rented the house in the village, I didn't get to see them in real life because they were outsiders who came to town on business. I did, however, get the chance to see them at work, when Usop asked me to get him cigarette or drinks and to have these delivered to him upstairs where he had a table all to himself, writing down in a ledger details of the payments for the service rendered by the women in that institution. I used to hang around long enough to peek at the ledgers. Nothing important except something like 'Mona - $40.00 etc etc.' Of course he'd chase me with a joke.

Against this information, coming to your question, I have to say that I didn't look at it as 'human frailties at its most basic.' Neither did I accept that as part and parcel of life. It was more like scenes from a cowboy movie playing themselves right before my eyes except the women were not in can can dance clothes, and the men were not in cowboy outfit.

I had no idea what you have to do after you go into the room, the girl waiting for you in bed. I had no concept of the actual act. All I understood was I wanted to grow as fast as I could to become an adult so I could participate in this whole thing of which I had no idea what was it that so exciting about it other than, it is just another scene unfolding itself right before my eyes.

I hope this answers the question, ma'am.

2:49 PM  
Blogger mommy@lif said...

en bergen, sorry my mistake sir! looks like i have a lot of catching up to do. :)

am teribbly shocked reading this entry. am speechless

6:00 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Alif's Mommy: Reality can sometimes do that to us. Speechless, that is.

6:51 PM  
Blogger LifeBloom said...

Bergen: Thanks for the comprehensive answer and I get what you were trying to say.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Sayuti said...

mr bergen.

i envy you.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Mama Rock said...

bergen - write a book on this - it will be like Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes versi Malaya. Your style similar to him that drew me to your blog everyday :)

11:20 AM  

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