Pak Dodoy

What I’ll miss in Indonesia #66

IMG_5381I have a love-hate relationship with this human. One of the vice principals of my school, he constantly chain-smokes, ignoring the “no smoking on school grounds” law, and has a tendency of blowing his smoke in the direction of whomever he is talking to.

When it’s me, and I cough to show him how much I hate his stale cigarette smell, he apologizes and says he knows smoking isn’t polite, as he takes another long inhale.

There are days when he shoves his hand in my face for a handshake and attempts to utilize his minimal English vocabulary that all I want to do is shove his lighter down his throat.

But the majority of days, I stop and humor him. Honestly, the man has great questions. He enjoys talking about culture and politics and seems to genuinely want to make his school a better place (as long as it means he doesn’t have to give up his smokes or daily chess and dominoes matches in the teacher’s office, lasting up to two hours.)

He’s a curious guy. He likes asking about America, “are there sawahs there?” “how many classes do students take each year?” “how did Donald Trump win?”

He likes debates and discussing the differences in our world views. He’s also my Indonesian Tiger Dad. He treats me, generally, like his daughter and always encourages me to do more.

While studying for the GRE last semester, he was one of the few teachers who asked me what I was doing and why. Once he discovered I was studying for the Masters entrance exam, he maintained a fully supportive position, encouraging teachers near me not to interrupt and having coffee delivered to my desk when I seemed particularly stressed (read: cranky.)

The coffee delivery I particularly appreciated (traditionally, in the Sundanese culture, it is not polite for women to drink coffee, but he will bring me coffee or snacks depending on how cranky he thinks I am, for which I will be eternally grateful.)

Pak Dodoy has always supported my secondary projects at school, from my spontaneous English Day Camp during exams to our World Map (for which he designated the largest wall in the school and the first thing you see when you enter campus leading to the largest and most beautiful world map in Peace Corps Indonesia history: self-designated award.)

Although this man can be annoying in his self-centered, who cares what time it is or how busy you are, disregard for other people (normal Indonesian man) attitude, I will miss him. He has been a friend and support system for me the past two years. Without Pak Dodoy, I would not have been able to complete projects outside the classroom at my school.

He can be rude, loud, annoying, frustrating, and inconsiderate. He can be thoughtful, passionate, inquisitive, and encouraging. He is my friend.


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