Friday, June 22, 2007

How much do you make? On what do you spend it? And how can you afford so much?

An international joke by an Indonesian living in Belgium:
A friend of mine recently posted this witty dialogue between an Indonesian (I) and a European (E).
I: How much do you earn per month and what do you use it for?

E: My monthly salary is 3000 Euro. I spend 1000 Euro for my apartment, 1000 Euro for food, 500 Euro for entertainment.

I: And what about the remaining 500 Euro?

E: That's none of your business, mister. Don't ask me that. What about you?

I: My monthly salary is Rp 950 thousands. Every month I spend Rp 450 thousands for house rent, Rp 350 thousands for food, Rp 250 thousands for transport, Rp 200 thousands for schools, Rp 200 thousands to pay off my loan, Rp 100 thousands for ...

E: Hold it! You're aready spending more than Rp 950 thousands per month. Where does the rest come from???

I: That's none of your business, mister. Don't ask me that ...
OK, that was supposed to be a joke, perhaps implying that a lot of money for many Indonesians sitting in lucrative positions comes from "under the table." But I really just had a very similar conversation with a European friend a couple of weeks ago. Until today she still couldn't understand how my family manage because knowing my monthly income the spendings would not be possible on paper.

In this case, for my family, and I guess also for many other average Indonesian families living from paycheck to paycheck, the answer could be simply what they refer to as: "the Indonesian economic miracle."

Case closed.
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