Is it right that your original name was Made but that since you married a high cast gentleman, it has now changed to Jero ?
Yes, that’s right, this is the tradition in Bali, when a lady from the lowest sudra “cast” like myself marries a higher “cast”, she becomes a “Jero”; my husband is from Mas village, his full name is Anak Agung Gede Jenyana – I myself come from Batuan and I met my future husband while working at the same place, I was 19 years old then. Now I am 27 and we have been married since 2005.
Do you have children ?
Yes we are blessed with a son, he is now 4 years old. When we will have our new house we will think of a second child; but now we are living – as is the Balinese tradition – with my in-laws, and we share the compound with many people!
Tell us more about your husband; what does he do?
He works abroad, far away from Ubud, in Florida! He is an assistant to the kitchen on board a cruise liner in Miami. His contract is for nine months and he gets 700 USD per month. He gives me that money so I can pay our credit on a piece of land we bought in Mas – Of course, I miss him and he misses his son, but he calls us every week, and I give him the news about his boy, the family, my job… and next time I will tell him I have been interviewed and will appear in the newspaper! (she giggles, big sparkling smile)
Tell us about your background, how did you come to work as a cook at Rendez-Vous Doux?
I studied 3 years in a Tourism School in Gianyar, I learnt English and even Japanese and computer – unfortunately I don’t have the opportunity to practice! — Then I was trained as a HouseKeeper for one year, I worked as a waitress in Nyu Kuning for 6 years in a café. And now as a cook at Café Rendez-Vous Doux for the past 3 years.
Ah ah, so, how do you feel with your boss? and the working team?
I find my boss friendly, she is a lady from Java, married to a Frenchman and she’s now expecting a baby; she has been teaching me some Javanese specials and her husband showed me how to prepare food from France and from North Africa using lamb and couscous. I feel good with the other staff, we go on well together, it’s important since we work in shifts. My salary is 500.000Rp [= 50USD], plus service 235.000Rp [in May], and plus tips. I also have a meal allowance. I can say I am happy with my job, the other staff is like family, friendly.
What else have you learnt while working here?
My boss always insists to keep the place very clean and to be aware of mice and insects.
Can you estimate how much you spend every month?
For me and my boy, I spend about 10.000Rp a day for food; for electricity and water about 120.000; for my hand phone about 100.000 a month; now I am also learning how to write and send emails to my husband, that would be cheaper than using the telephone!
Do you see any differences between you and the Bule [local name for foreigners]?
Well, one sure is for sure is that they eat a lot more raw food and salads, also they always start a meal with an appetizer, then a main dish, followed by a desert. Whereas we Balinese would just be contented with a simple nasi campur [rice mixed with vegetables] – Oh yes, and the other thing is that they are totally unable to eat with their fingers, they need cutlery, we don’t!
How do you feel about having many foreigners visiting Bali?
I think it’s good for business when many people are coming here (I don’t mean the rude ones!). It gives us more work!
Jero, you are a very busy lady, but what do you do in your free time?
I prepare offerings, I go by motorbike to the beach in Sanur, with my son, I love to play with him and every month we go to Batuan to visit my family.
Do you think some things in Bali should change?
Oh yes, of course! I think in Ubud there is too much pollution now in town, especially around the market where all the big buses come to park and download tourists! It’s also getting more difficult to find a place where to park one’s own motorbike! And the other thing I feel should improve is the school, still too expensive!
What is the most important thing in your life?
Money is important; also my family and my son. My husband is coming back from Florida in January and he will stay here for two months. I think he needs a rest, when the cruise have many guests, everything has to be done fast, the job stresses him!
In my dreams, I would like to have a shop, or start a small restaurant; but for this we need a bit of capital. Mostly I hope guests love Bali and that many come here to discover my island!
note: this article was published in Ubud Community printed version on July 2009