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EINDHOVEN - The time has come that I have to look for my own stuff here in Eindhoven. I have been living here for quite some years now, and I know my way around here pretty good (maybe with the help of an internet guide). But only a little while ago I discovered there are more people here who were looking for the same products, Indonesian products that is. After my first holiday to Indonesia, back in 1999, I had the need to shop for Ďthe real Indonesian krupukí (shrimp-crackers) and I found that in a shop named Toko Murah in the one shopping mall Eindhoven has. I only went there for some krupuk and kue lapis, that was also enough for me.
Recently I got to talk to a lot of people on a Dutch forum, sharing our thoughts about Indonesia and things like that. I mentioned the fact that I had never seen any Teh Botol in The Netherlands. People told me to go to Amsterdam, because the Chinese shops there did actually sell Teh Botol, the one in the pack, not in the bottle. I could live with that, at least it was Teh Botol. But Amsterdam is a place 1,5 hours by train or car, not just something to go by after work or something. Every once in a while I drop by at friends there, but I forget to mention the Teh Botol at all. Last time I came home with a brand new digital camera, but no Teh Botol.

Reading back the forum several weeks ago, someone mentioned the fact that I could go to a shop not too far from the city center, selling all kinds of Asian products, including Teh Botol, if I wanted I could also buy a big pack, to enjoy the experience of Teh Botol 24 times before being out of stock. I went out on a sunny but cold Saturday afternoon. I did end up in some Chinese Shop, but the name was different and they didnít sell any Teh Botol. Ooh, what did I do? Itís another shop, I could not find it, but still I bought lemper (stuffed rice rolls), a loaf of tempeh (soy bean product) and some new krupuk of course.
This afternoon I had another try after the guy told me I had to be somewhere else than the shop I ended up in last time. I had to enter a side road and then I would find the shop without any problems. I tried again, it was even colder than last time, but at least the sun was still shining, and I had to drink Teh Botol this afternoon as well! A wonderfull outlook of course, so I grabbed my bike again and went to the city center again. After crawling through the main street, people trying to park their cars everywhere because the road ahead is closed because of the weekly Saturday market, bikes, children running around, I managed to find the street where we talked about. Soon I saw the shopís name and chances of me going home with Teh Botol grew.

I locked my bike and skipped inside, sneaky behind the Chinese people standing in front of the counter. I grabbed a basket, since the sign told me "winkelmandje verplicht". Normally I donít response to these kind of signs, but here, everything is easy to steal, not that I want to steal, but a shop selling small bags of spices, jars of sambal, fresh products in the freezer without a anti-shoplifting tag, things like that. And I had the feeling I might be buying more than just a Teh Botol as well, in fact I was aiming at buying a whole box at once, but where to get that?
The shop is typical for the shops I know them in Indonesia. Of course they have their supermarkets as well, but the more traditional local shops always are a little disorganised, crowded, dirty (on the floor, on the ceiling, the products as well) and densely populated with all kinds of products I donít even know where to use them for. Luckily this shop was also a little bit Dutch, so it was clean for sure, but for the rest it was all the same. Many people working to stuff the shop, and many customers to buy the products. And I was not the only Dutch person between all Chinese/Asian people, it was a nice mix of people aiming to buy asian products for their Sunday evening meal, their Saturday-afternoon-lazy-snack-in-front-of-the-television, the gifts for friends or products used in restaurants, like the 1kg bag of white pepper.

After loading 4 packs of real Indomie, I also found a coconut, no picture needed I hope. (They are almost round, hard, brown and hairy. You can eat the white flesh on the inside, and drink the milk as well). I walked through the shop again, because I still hadnít found the Teh Botol, let alone a big box of it to stuff my momís freezer ;). When paying my stuff I now had, I saw a lonely species Teh Botol in the refrigerator behind the cashier. I asked the lady if they could provide with me a box of Teh Botol, it didnít have to be cooled yet. She asked a guy, the guy yelled to someone at the other side of the store, he walked away, and the lady said to me I would get my Teh Botol soon. I got a 10 per cent discount on buying a complete box at once.

Soon after I paid the box was brought to me by someone else again. He handed it over.
"Dank je wel", I said, and was on my way home with a big smile on my face.
Finally I made it to buy Teh Botol of my own, in my own hometown. Now it was time for some serious testing. Outside it was cold enough to let my very own Teh Botol cool down a little, but the refrigerator is finishing the work right now. After this story is published, I will enjoy my first Teh Botol in Holland. A desire has been fulfilled, now I can really start enjoying my weekend.
I hope you donít mind that I drink my Teh Botol in private, I just want to enjoy it all by myself with a daydream that Iím in Indonesia right now. Maybe Iíll tell you another time how it tasted, but one thing is for sure, it canít be bad for sure! I mean, itís Indonesian!

Posted in Culture @ 06 December 2003 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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