Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On stereotypes

My clients, Americans, took me out to dinner after the negotiations.  They marveled at how Potato Head was so hip and vibey and gushed over the world-class cocktails and raved about Asians in general (except mainland Chinese, whom they "can't break through"). Talk turned to our counterpart, a tricky fellow with more money than he seems to have because he continues scraping at the bottom of the abandoned proverbial gold pit. I told them I used to date someone with the same surname i.e. the same clan and that was the worst relationship of my life. They laughed so hard they almost fell off their seats. Gave them a good lesson or two about tribal stereotypes, at the risk of over-stereotyping, and they absolutely loved it. I complained that Americans are so overwhelmingly over-friendly and they loved that too. They complained that most Indonesians are so afraid of confrontation that nothing gets done.

Apparently people high-up want a share in the deal, but then again that is hearsay and who knows who really knows anything? I told Mr. Right and he said it made sense, because how else would you ensure in good faith that the deal goes through for the sake of national interest, if you don't give the right incentives to the people in charge of ensuring those interests.  I told him that that may be the case for practical reasons based on the realities on the field, but a VIP with integrity would wave his sticks and ensure the deal goes through anyway, with or without rotten carrots.  Mr. Right is like Anakin, and he knows that if he ever goes over to the dark side I would rush over in a space-shuttle to say "you're breaking my heart, Ani". But there rarely is a black or white, I must concede, only a murky gray.

So I met the person who is allegedly the proxy for the alleged VIP who allegedly wants a cut in this deal, who is your typical middle-aged pot-bellied almost-balding ring-wearing gold-buckled slow-speaking businessman who never seems to get to the point of what he means. In the beginning, he played the "I'm not stupid" game. At some point I made him laugh, and that's when I knew things would be okay. After he signed the papers, he took us all out to lunch.