Things I miss about England (part one): Fresh milk

There’s nothing quite like fresh milk.

Take a chilled bottle of the stuff out of the fridge, press in the wonderful little silver foil top with your thumb, and then glug the stuff straight down.


And this wonder liquid is damn good for you too, and especially for kids, being the most complete food to serve youngsters - default sustenance for picky children, liquid calcium for thirsty bones.

In the UK, it can even be delivered to your home: early in the morning, before you wake up, the milkman will leave the milk on your doorstep and take away the empty bottles that you should have placed out the night before. Fresh milk for breakfast. Perfect.

But here in Indonesia, there are no milkmen – or milkladies for that matter! – and you’ll have to make a trip to the supermarket to get some milk. Unfortunately, however, most of the milk products on sale in Indonesia are the powdered variety.

And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, and you have to get help from one of the millions of shop assistants that always seem to be found in supermarkets in Indonesia, be prepared for a few laughs.

Because as soon as an Indonesian hears the word “milk” they are only thinking about one thing.

So never mind that you are looking for full cream milk or semi-skimmed milk or even some incredibly rich chocolate flavored milk, because it is nigh on certain that one of the shop assistants – and by now you’ve probably got a crowd of around eight or nine of these young girls surrounding you – will suggest – amid raucous laughter - that as a foreigner you would obviously prefer susu ibu or mother’s milk to susu bendera.

Many years ago, in Surabaya, I once played dumb on what they meant by susu ibu and I could have sworn that one of the girls had actually flashed a ### at me in the supermarket. And I don’t think I was seeing things either: Bintang ain’t that strong. All the other girls found the whole thing hilarious of course and were rolling around the floor in absolute hysterics.

Isn’t Indonesia a great country? Back in the UK you’d be hard pressed to even get a smile – and here I was getting something a lot more substaintial!

But Indonesian girls – and Asian girls – in general are, alas, not noted for their measurements in this department. Indonesian women are generally fairly flat-chested, although in the cities where consumption of protein is much higher, things are thankfully developing in the right direction.

And feelings of inadequacy in this respect are even
prompting some Thai women to get their breasts enlarged to satisfy the needs of their boob-loving expat boyfriends – if they have the money of course.

But I think they are taking things too far. Don’t you?


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