Bartele Santema is in his element. I can imagine him sitting down in a dressing room, powdered-face, maybe a little bit of lip gloss and mascara to enhance his features, a stack of stroopwafels on the table, a glass of beer in one hand, practicing his lines, trying to remember all of his six bars he has to name in front of the interviewer from Al-Jazeera, CNN and all other newspapers desperately trying to write something different about Barack Obama.
I dare to say that Bartele Santema is a friend. Well, he must be. He announced that mr.mck and I were getting married in Bugil’s newsletter even before I told my boss about it (and in his usual manner, managed to take credit from it). He was not just invited to our small wedding party last August in Bali, Bugil’s Bali had its first job that Saturday. And he has constantly been seen in many of my pictures (like the one on the right, circa 2006, when everybody was skinnier, healthier, and much younger). The last picture probably was Sunday Brunch at 4 Seasons Hotel a few days before we left back to Aberdeen. It was the day after our friends’ wedding, and the first time I met Elyani and Toni for coffee.
About 3 PM, when we were finished our brunch, I moved to Elyani and Toni’s table for coffee. But my Sunday Brunch group wasn’t happy because Bart had escaped from ‘jumping into the pool’ thing the night before (during the wedding, most people jumped into the pool and sang along with the band on AC/DC and Rolling Stones’ songs, and Bart quietly sneaked out) and planned to throw Bart into 4 Seasons’ swimming pool. Poor Elyani and Toni, who just got to know me, were crowded by about 15 people who suddenly went to our table and demanded me to introduce each of them to my blogbuddies. Both Elyani and Toni quickly learned that it was just a plot to get out of the dining room, to get to near the pool, and throw Bart into it. We pretended to take a group picture by the pool. Toni was kind enough to do it for us (he must be thinking what a bunch of noisy childish people!). Bart certainly was suspicious about the whole thing and hid behind everybody. When the camera clicked, everybody turned to Bart and tried to grab him. Almost 15 men against 1 and we did not succeed. He walked away. Dry and safe.
That’s the kind of man Bart is. His instinct to pick up on suspicious thing. And his radar to smell where the money blows. Bart is the sort of man who is sitting next to you at the bar and shooting hundreds of ideas non-stop, you need a whole notepad just to keep up. But he also shoots them half-heartedly, his eyes keep checking on the bar staffs and patrons, and his hands are busy lifting the beer glass and typing at the same time, you don’t know whether he’s taking the piss or being serious. By eleven we’d hear him playing guitar and sing “Josephine”. By two in the morning it’s usually B52 time for everybody, and we’d forget most of his brilliant ideas.
He started the hunt of Obama’s former residence in Menteng Jakarta when Obama was racing against Hillary Clinton. Most of you might have known that Obama spent his childhood in Jakarta when his mother married to an Indonesian. And most of you probably know that Indonesians are so delighted that a presidential nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election has a teeny tiny sentimental connection with Indonesia. People think Bart was just having fun, that it’s just another silly idea. Nobody took it seriously when he wrote about “Sweet Home Obama” back in February. But he has been persistently following every possible trace (just like he managed to visit a village in East Java and proved its link to Scotland). Moreover, he has been persistently pestering the owner of Obama’s former residence. And now, with the prospect of having Obama to make a significant mark in American political history, everybody wants a piece of Bart, just like the headline of Bugil’s Newsletter: Bar Owner Makes Headline Worldwide; CNN, The Wallstreet Journal, some Dutch newspapers and Indonesian Newspapers, all mentioned his name. Not bad for a Frisian barman, eh?
His idea is to rent the smaller pavilion of the small colonial-style house Barack Obama lived in as a child to open the “Sweet Home Obama Bar” – a cafe that would feature an “Obama-blend coffee,” a mix of beans from Kenya and Java. Bart also would serve stroopwafels, the home-made caramel waffles that are also sold in Starbucks Indonesia (yes, those are Bart’s), Cazbar, Eastern Promise, and the other bars.
Bart just announced that he has just purchased an original Obama sofa. I don’t know what he means by “Obama sofa”, but I suspect it’s the sofa that Obama family owned once back in the seventies (I wouldn’t want to image the condition of it, hopefully the current owner takes good care of it, otherwise imagine all the dust, the smell and the living creatures inside it). I would imagine he will make the sofa as the centerpiece of the bar, probably with the sign “Obama sat here”.
I admire his persistence. His crazy idea. And his way of finding to turn his crazy idea into a real business. I mean, if this is the guy who baked his first batch of stroopwaffles in our apartment’s microwave (and had us as testers – thank God we’re still alive to tell this story) and now could sell them to Starbucks all over Indonesia, even if Obama doesn’t win, the Sweet Home Obama could be a potential money maker. Just like Kopi Annan….