Advances in Applied Sociology
2011. Vol.1, No.1, 22-47
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/aasoci.2011.11003
Leisure among the Retired Indos of the Hague
Henny N. Edelman1, David J. Edelman2
1Putrie Consulting, Cincinnati, USA;
2School of Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, USA.
Received November 16th, 2011; revised December 21st, 2011; accepted December 28th, 2011.
The ethnic mixture in Europe has been changing rapidly since the end of World War II, and many of these im-
migrant groups are now reaching retirement. The Netherlands is one of the countries affected in this way. This
study focuses on mixed race people (Indos) originating in the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and re-
siding in The Hague and its surrounding area. Their situation is relevant to other immigrant groups in other
European countries. There are several important issues that are studied here with regard to their leisure from
which a typology of Indo leisure lifestyles is developed. These issues include :1) how this group is able to avail
itself of leisure activities with which its members feel comfortable during retirement and old age; 2) whether this
group has integrated itself completely into the host society and feels happy in its social life; 3) whether the lei-
sure activities of retired Indos are a way for them to keep healthy mentally and physically, thereby leading to
satisfaction with life; and 4) how this particular group of people feels about its unique identity and culture after
many years of living in the Netherlands.
Keywords: Leisure and the Immigrant Elderly , Indos in Retirement, Europe and Its Aging Ethnic Im migrants
Problem Setting
The subject of leisure and recreation for the elderly is an in-
creasingly important topic in the Netherlands as those adults
born just after the end of World War II begin to reach retire-
ment age. Both the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and the
Royal Institute for Public Health and Environmental Hygiene
(RIVM) have been studying the implications of this greying of
the Dutch population (de Volkskrant, 3 January 1998). These,
so called Baby Boomers are wealthier, healthier and more in-
dependent than past generations, and it can be expected that
their requirements for leisure will be affected by these factors
(de Volksrant, 19 December 1997). Thus, these new circum-
stances will affect the lifestyle and leisure activities of Dutch
retirees in the future, who are expected to have different de-
mands than those of the present.
This study, however, focuses on a particular subgroup of Dutch
retirees, the members of which are now beginning to cease
working and who only partially fit the profile of the dominant
culture. That is, this study is centred on retired people residing
in the Netherlands who were not born in the country or who
have non-Dutch parents. The question is how are they able to
avail themselves of leisure as they age and reach retirement. Of
primary concern here are the questions of whether the members
of this group have integrated themselves into local society and
feel happy in their social lives, and whether their leisure active-
ties are a way for them to keep themselves healthy mentally and
physically. Another item of concern is how important the mem-
bers of the group feel their unique identity and culture is to them.
These are important issues if, as is assumed for this research,
they are not as wealthy or “Dutch” enough, in comparison to
native ethnic Dutch, to have their needs met by the social ser-
vices provided in their local community or by the private sector.
It is a question of public policy how to accommodate these needs.
In order to consider the issues related to this concern, the
study concentrates on a specific section of this subgroup. These
are the retired Indos, or mixed race immigrants from the former
Dutch East Indies, residing in the Netherlands. They form a
large non-white ethnic group numbering 440,330 in 1996 (Wolt -
ers-Noordhoff Atlas, 19 97), which has been present in the coun-
try for several generations. A significant number of individuals
in this group are soon to reach retirement. The Hague metro-
politan area has been chosen as the place of analysis for several
reasons. First, ac cording to Dutch statistic s, the city has an above
average percentage of elderly (65+) residents 17.2% versus the
national municipal average of 12.82%, while the provincial
percentage for South Holland of 13.8% is slightly above the
national average of 13.35%. In addition, the province has the
highest number of people in the Netherlands who were born in
Indonesia and the former Dutch East Indies. 113,624 residents
of this type represent 26% of all in the country (440,330). In
The Hague itself, 5.5% of the population belongs to this group,
while the national municipal average is only 1.97% (ibid.).
With the changing ethnic mix, or what is called here the
browning of the populations of European countries due to im-
migration, and with the greying of those populations, the ques-
tion of the mix of leisure activities undertaken by the first gen-
eration immigrant elderly becomes increasingly important. Where
and how, then, can they feel comfortable to pursue leisure, which is
consistent with their own habits and customs? This is an espe-
cially difficult matter when those migrants are of mixed race or
ethnicity, and also not fully integrated into the local society.
Research Objectives
General Objective
The ability of the first generation of any immigrant group to
accept the culture and habits of their new homeland, as well as
the acceptance of that group by the people among whom they
now reside, are important factors for the immigrant group’s
leisure. This situation reaches a critical phase when the immi-
grants reach retirement. All retirees face a lifesty le change when
they cease working, but this adjustment is more difficult for
immigrants who are not fully integrated because their social
support network is more limited.
In this regard, the question of ageing Indos in the Nether-
lands is especially interesting. Of particular concern is the ques-
tion of whether the mix of leisure activities available to this
group has enough Indonesian cultural content to ensure their sa-
tisfaction with life and staying happy and healthy in old age. Thus,
answering this question forms the general objective of the study.
Specific Objectives
This overall concern is brought into focus by the four spe-
cific objectives of the research. These are:
To determine to what extent retiring and ageing Indos have
been exposed to Indonesian culture both before and after
immigration to the Ne t her lands;
To identify how deeply childhood experience in Indonesia
has influenced their way of life and leisure activities in the
To measure to what extent these Indos participate in leisure
activities, which pertain to their cultural or ethnic Indone-
sian heritage in their free time; and
To evaluate how leisure activities can help the Indos in the
Netherlands retain their original Indo culture, thereby ena-
bling them to feel comfortable in their new culture (i.e.,
Dutch culture) during retirement and ensuring satisfaction
with life.
Research Questions: Operationalising the Study
Criteria for Evaluation
The leisure activities pursued by the retired Indo population
can be evaluated with regard to the extent to which they form a
variety of activities to choose from, which are related to Indo-
nesian culture, as well as to Indo, that is to Indo-European,
mixed race culture, while they enable Indos to have a feeling of
satisfaction with retired life in the Netherlands. This concern is
the core issue that is addressed in the study. Therefore, a num-
ber of research questions related t o the objectives outlined above
must be answered, and they are as follows:
Research Questions
What kinds of leisure activities do they pursue in general?
To what extent does the Indonesian culture, which was ex-
perienced in childhood, influence the leisure activities of the
retired Indo commun i t y in The Hague a n d i t s surroundings?
To what extent do the Indos themselves try to maintain their
unique Indo culture?
What role do Indo clubs play in the community of retired
Do Indos feel closer to the Indonesian way of life or to a
Dutch lifestyle in pursuing their leisure activities?
What do the retired Indos do to retain the Indonesian as-
pects of their culture?
How close do these Indo people now feel to Indonesia?
What kinds of people do they mix with, and who are their
best friends (i.e., ethnic Dutch, ethnic Indonesian or mixed
race Indo)?
What elements of Indonesian culture do the Indos find it
important to maintain in their old age in the Netherlands?
What elements of Dutch culture do Indos feel uncomfort-
able with in their old age?
Operational D e fi ni tio ns
In order to answer the questions posed above, the meanings
of some key terms and several important indicators are defined
Indo or Indo-European
It is very difficult to find a specific and widely agreed upon
definition of the meaning of Indo. Beets and Koe soebjon o (1 991)
support this in asserting that the group has been largely ignored
by the government and research institutions in the Netherlands.
However, the term Indo has always included the connotation of
mixed blood. The word mestizo was also used long ago by the
Spaniards and Portuguese who came to the Dutch Indies (i.e.,
Indonesia) to describe the people they encountered there of mixed
blood ethnicity. Later, the word Indo-European was considered
to be more appropriate in describing this group (Neijndorff,
1997), and, eventually, this was shortened to Indo, and it has
come into common and widespread usage as the term for peo-
ple who have mixed blood.
More specifically, the Indos, with whom this thesis is con-
cerned, are those people of mixed race or ethnicity; who were
born in Indonesia or came to Indonesia as infants, and who
lived in Indonesia at least until adolescence, which is consid-
ered to be between 10 and 20 years old according to the World
Health Organisation (cited in Sarwono, 1989). It is assumed
that customs, norms, rules and habits are internalised during
childhood. Therefore, this research will consider only individu-
als who have spent their childhood in Indonesia, and who have
lived their adult years in the Netherlands.
Retired, Not Elderly: The Focus of Analysis
Defining the term elderly or aged is not easy. One cannot
simply specify old and retired, since the elderly actually form a
very heterogeneous group (McPherson, 1991). In reality, there
are at least two or three distinct age cohorts within the elderly
population: 60 - 69, 70 - 79 and 80+.
Consequently, it is necessary to define more precisely what
the term elderly means in this paper. In many countries, elderly
means old, and in the West, one may be labelled as old when
one retires. Consequently, in the United States, for example,
one is a productive member of society at 64 but suddenly old at
65! In Indonesia, on the other hand, one retires at 55. Does that
mean an Indonesian is old at 55 but an American at 65? Even
with, on average, better health conditions and a higher life ex-
pectancy in the US, this seems a dubious assumption.
However, for the purpose of this study, the elderly are not
considered the group of interest. Instead, the important analytic-
cal group is composed of those who have reached legal retire-
ment age in the Netherlands and actually begun to draw their
Dutch pensions. Thus, the Dutch perspective is taken into con-
sideration, since the Netherlands is the country of residence. A
watershed age in the Netherlands is 55, after which one is clas-
sified in the statistics of the Social and Cultural Planning Office
(SCP) as being one of the elderly (ouderen) with regard to dis-
cussion of free time activities (te Kloeze, 1991). Of course, the
Dutch also recognise the inescapable fact that different age
groups within the elderly population have different socio-demo-
graphic backgrounds.
Consequently, the retirement age in the Netherlands, which
varies generally between 55 and 65, is used here to define the
age cohort of analysis. It is not considered the age at which one
becomes elderly or aged. Instead, it is recognised in the re-
search that this age group is still economically active and will
have different leisure demand s than older cohorts. Of course, thi s
would also be the case at whichever arbitrary age one would
use in a research study. Indeed, the feeling of grow ing old is sub-
jective and personal. There are many psychological and social
factors, which may influence a person’s perception of old age.
A culture has developed within a society when there is a
similarity in perception of certain things among its individual
members, and when they share a way of life, values, norms, be-
liefs, customs, knowledge, language, music, songs, dress, litera -
ture, laws, ceremonies, and so forth. McPherson (1990) calls
these aspects the non-material and material elements wherein
culture provides a symbolic order and a set of shared meanings
to social life.
For the purpose of this study, a culture is defined when indi-
viduals share non-material elements such as values, norms, cus-
toms, knowledge, beliefs, as well as the material elements of life,
such as eating habits, a clothing or dress code, arts, history, lan-
guage, literature, music, folklore, traditional ceremonies and laws.
Leisure and Recreation
The terms leisure and recreation are often used interchangea-
bly. However, in the academic and professional literature, they
have different meanings. It is, therefore, necessary to define
these terms for the purpose of the proposed research. A clear
distinction is made by Leitner and Leitner (1996), who define
leisure as, “··· free or unobligated time, time during which work,
life-sustaining functions, and other obligatory activities are not
performed.” Recreation, on the other hand, is defined as
“··· activity conducted during leisure, usually for the purpose of
Of course, many aspects of leisure and recreation have been
defined through the different professional orientation of a par-
ticular discipline. For example, Kelly sees leisure from the so-
ciological perspective. Thus, he sees leisure as a product of the
social system and embedded in c ulture and its institutional struc-
tures (Borgatta & Borgatta, 1991). The observation of Iso-Ahola
(1997), on the other hand, is that for leisure to exist, one has to
be in control of one’s actions and have a sense of freedom to
pursue willingly a given activity.
Without belabouring this point further, leisure here is con-
sidered as the time withi n which fre ely chosen discret iona ry ac-
tivities (i.e., recreational activities) of an individual are pursued
for enjoyment and pleasure within the norms of society. Thus,
the basic definition of Leitner and Leitner is considered within
the limits imposed by Kelly and Is o -A h o la .
Scope and Research Methodology
The research in this study was conducted in The Hague and
its surroundings by involving the local Indo community within
the boundarie s of the chosen resea rch areas. This st udy addresse s
social and well being issues through the analysis of leisure ac-
tivities available in The Hague and its suburbs. It is necessary
to specify carefully the scope of this research as follows:
It covers the current availability of leisure activities, as well
as how to plan and develop future leisure programs, which
will improve and benefit the well being of the local Indo -
elderly specifically and the whole Indo community in gen-
It considers the relationships between local governments
and the Indo community in keeping the Indo culture and the
relationship of the community to Indonesian culture alive;
It also contributes to ensuring the continuity of ethnic lei-
sure activities to bridge the gap between the programs of
local leisure centres and the needs of the Indo population.
The above issues are addressed in the study through the de-
tailed discussion of leisure activities with several local Indo
clubs and a sample group of forty retired Indo residents (i.e.,
ten single men, ten single women and ten couples, the male and
female partners of which are interviewed separately) in The Ha-
gue and its surroundings.
The respondents were inte rviewed using in-depth, open-ended
questions focusing on certain issues. This allowed the respon-
dents to interact with the researcher and explain their answers
fully. The interviews yielded information, which was then fol-
lowed up in other interviews and further research. A tape re-
corder was used in all instances.
In addition to interviewing retired Indo respondents, some
key people, including academics, researchers and government
officials, who have considerable knowledge about the subject
under study, were also consulted. They contributed to the work
by discussing important issues, which are related to the social
and cultural aspects of the research and the historical back-
ground of the Indo people.
Virtually all interviews (i.e., 39 out of 40) were conducted at
the respondents’ residences, so that during the interviews the
researcher could observe the way of life of the respondents di-
rectly. For example, how the respondents decorate their homes,
their eating habits and what their domestic toilet habits are (i.e.,
whether they use water or paper after using the toilet) provide
significant information about whether they feel closer to Indo-
nesian or European culture. Each respondent was interviewed,
on average, for two to three hours in the language with which
they felt most comfortable. Dutch, Indonesian and English were
all used. The researcher interviewed the partners of a couple
separately, and right after each other, so that interference of one
spouse on the other in answering questions was minimised. The
respondents sometimes invited the researcher to have lunch in
their homes or have snacks with tea/coffee over the long inter-
view. This shows that hospitality has remained a part of Indo
culture, which will be discussed in detail in Section 4.
Sampling Technique
The target population consisted of those Indo residents who
reside within The Hague and its surroundings. Due to the diffi-
culties of constructing a sample population, the so-called snow-
ball effect method was used. With this method, the population
to be researched was obtained through first consulting impor-
tant and established key source people who work at universities,
research institutes, government institutions, the media and at
registered or otherwise recognised Indo organisations. Thus, the
starting point of the snowball effect to obtain a research sample
was to identify very reliable sources for the initial consultations.
This was done by consulting academics at the University of
Leiden, who are experts on Indonesian history. This includes,
especially, the project co-ordinator of the Oral History Project
on Indonesia (Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesie).
Their recommendations led to leaders of various Indo founda-
tions (such as Pelita) and government officials (e.g., from the
Dutch census bureau, the CBS). In parallel to this, contacts of
the primary researcher among her friends in the Indo commu-
nity in The Hague led to recommendations of clubs to visit and
Indo representatives to talk to. They suggested individuals who
might fit the research profile. The researcher then t alked to them.
Some of them were appropriate and others not, but all sug gested
further people to talk to. The variety in the background s of these
resource persons and initial contacts in the Indo community led
to different backgrounds among the target samples in this study.
The population selected in this way is more likely to yield a
random sample by matching people to the sampling character-
istics and conditions, which are determined by the operational
definitions. The required conditions for those, who were inter-
viewed as subjects in this study, were that each respondent must:
Have mixed blood characterising him/her as Indo;
Have been born in Indonesia or moved to Indonesia as an
infant during the era of the Dutch Indies;
Have spent at least her/his childhood up to adolescence in
Have arrived in the Netherlands after World War II;
Be a retiree at the present time (i.e., above 55 years old);
Live in The Hague and its surroundings.
Those people who were identified as fulfilling the above
conditions (60) were put into an initial research sample, which
was then controlled to ensure homogeneity of the sample (or
sub-samples) in t erms of socio-demographic background( s). Fur-
thermore, an equal number of men (20) and women (20) were
selected to be studied. Lastly, both married and currently single
(i.e., those who never married, are widowed or are divorced)
individuals were selected, so that the final sample of forty was
composed of ten single men (4 widowed, 3 divorced and 3 ne-
ver married), ten single women (9 widowed, 1 divorced and 0
never married) and ten married couples. Partners were inter-
viewed separately, as well as directly after each other, to elimi-
nate the effects of a dominant partner on the responses of the
spouse. The reason for interviewing both single and married
retirees was to determine if there were significant differences in
their leisure due to their marital status.
The data/information were collected by various methods.
Anthropological approaches were used to gather information,
namely by using observation, in-depth interviewing and parti-
cipant observation. These approaches have been chosen in or-
der to collect a great deal of detailed information from the rela-
tively limited number of respondents in this study.
Data Analysis
Each answer from a respondent was analysed and notes taken.
The use of a tape recorder proved essential in allowing the re-
searcher to review each answer and each interview repeatedly,
and to recapture the nature of a particular interview weeks and
even months after it took place. The researchers then put to-
gether the responses to each question and reread interview ob-
servations and post-interview notes before drawing any conclu-
sion from the specific pattern of answers. Because of the nature
of the interview procedure, by which the respondents gave long
and detailed answers to each question, the primary researcher
had to skip around the recordings quite a bit to filter out re-
peated information and draw inferences and deductions from
several answers given to questions at widely separated points in
an interview. Sometimes, re spondents referred back to previous
questions in answering a later question or during a break in the
interview for refreshments.
Characteristics, History and Background of the
Study Population
In the Netherlands, no special attention was paid to the im-
migrant, ethnic elderly by the government before 1985 (Vriezen,
1993). In that year, an official nota (policy paper similar to a
British white paper) on the ethnic elderly appeared entitled Ou-
deren uit ethnische groepen. This was the first time the gov-
ernment connected the two subject areas of ouderen (the elderly)
and minderheden (minorities). The paper was intended as an
inventory of minority groups and what was known over their
living conditions (ibid.). Naturally, the Indo group was included
here. Government policy regarding the point of departure of the
minority elderly, however, was no different than for the ethnic
Dutch. The two-track policy of independence and participation
(in all aspects of social life) was the same for all. It wasn’t until
the nota Ouderenbeleid 1990-1991 that it was mentioned in
Dutch policy that the traditional c are for the Dutch elderly might
not be as suitable for other ethnic groups as had been assumed.
In order to end problems such as isolation among these elderly,
it was recognised that it had become necessary to initiate new
information, research and other projects specifically targeted at
them (ibid.).
Moreover, despite the strong role ethnicity has in ageing, as
the Indo population continues to grow older, families will be
less able to provide this social support. In the year 2000, there
will be around 27,000 Indo men and women, who are 75 years
old or older. Some will need to go to nursing homes, and the
preferred homes are those that cater to their ethnicity. It has
been estimated that in 2000 there will be a need for between
575 and 863 places in Indo nursing homes. In The Hague and
its surroundings, above all, the need for an Indo home is great-
est (Rijkschroeff, The, & Wu, 1993).
The Elderly and Their Leisure in the Netherlands
Before proceeding to an historical analysis of the Indo com-
munity in the Netherlands in order to set the stage for the ana-
lysis of the leisure activities of its aged and retired members, it
is first necessary to describe the leisure of the same age cohort
among the host Dutch population. This highlights the situation
that the Indo elderly face as partially assimilated immigrants
with a unique culture.
The Leisure Patterns of the Elderly in the Netherlands
To get a first impression of how the Dutch elderly spend
their leisure time, the results of nation-wide research conducted
by the Social and Cultural Planning Office between 1975 and
1985 are significant (te Kloeze, 1990). These differentiate the
retired from the working population. In terms of time spent on
leisure, the retired spent between 63 and 67 hours each week on
leisure as opposed to the employed, who spent between 37 and
42 hours. However, they went out less than the employed, and
they, along with the unemployed and the disabled (the statistics
are not disaggregated), spent more time on contacts within the
family circle, electronic media, reading, resting, recreation out-
side the home, hobbies, sport and games, the care of plants and
animals and do-it-yourself activities (ibid.). Thus, the Dutch
elderly appear to have more sedentary leisure than their work-
ing countrymen do.
Another significant aspect of leisure for the elderly in the
Netherlands is the point that most leisure takes place in or near
the home. This means the neighbourhood takes on great signi-
ficance for the Dutch elderly. Their social networks within the
neighbourhood are, therefore, important to limiting social isola-
tion in old age (Thissen, 1992). Thus, in considering the leisure
of the Indo elderly in the Netherlands, the attitude of the neigh-
bourhood’s residents to them, as well as their feeling towards
their Dutch neighbours, becomes significant. In a study of the
integration of Turkish families into a Dutch neighbourhood in
Arnhem through recreational activities, it was found that most
of the Turkish families indicated that they seek integration into
Dutch society at the local level. Nevertheless, they retain a
substantial amount of elements from their own culture and do
not adopt many aspects of Dutch society (te Kloeze, 1998). Thus,
after three generations, they appear to remain predominantly
oriented toward their own cultural group. Moreover, although
the respondents in the research expressed a need for more social
contact in the community, they experienced a rather inhospita-
ble behaviour on the part of their Dutch neighbours (Soeters, de
Hoog, & te Kloeze, 1996).
The Indos of the Netherlands
While Indos have been previously defined for the purposes
of this thesis, these few words present an inadequate portrait of
an ethnic group with a rich and unique history and culture span-
ning several centuries in both the Dutch East Indies and in the
Netherlands. In order to appreciate fully the significance of this
study, the following paragraphs describe this ethnic group and
their experiences in greater detail.
The Old World: Life before the Netherlands
The Age of Exploration during which the colonial powers
expanded to Asia, Africa and Latin America had from the very
beginning implications for the native populations of these re-
gions. Mixed blood children were the result of many missions
to unknown lands. This was also the case in the Dutch East Indies,
where only the wives of high officials of the governing Dutch
East India Company (V.O.C.) were allowed to settle after 1632,
and of which a visiting Englishman wrote over Batavia (Jakarta)
in 1815, “Because Dutch women are not encouraged to go to
the Indies, the men live with native women. So a mixed race
has developed” (Neijndorff, 1997). European life in the Dutch
East Indies was a typi cal male society until 1870, with few wo-
men. In 1860, there were 22,000 European men and only 1000
European women. From 1880 to 1895, there were 500 women
per 1000 men, and these numbers became equal only after the
Second World War. Moreover, the category European women
also included native women who obtained this status through
marriage to a European man (ibid.)! As a result, the mixed race
population continued to grow over the Dutch colonial period.
While various names were used for this group (e.g., ge-
mengdbloedigen, halfbloeden, mesties, etc.), it was only after
the administration of T. S. Raffles that the mixed race popula-
tion acquired the name Indo, which stood for Indo-European
and not Indo-Dutch, since there were always many non-Dutch
Europeans among the colonists (ibid.). Nevertheless, the phrase
has largely come to be used in the Netherlands as an abbrevia-
tion of Indische Nederlander, referring to those mixed race
Dutch who emigrated from the new country of Indonesia to the
Netherlands between 1945 and 1963.
Starting a New Life
Neijndorff estimates the European population of the Dutch
East Indies at about 400,000 at Indonesian independence, more
than half of whom were of mixed blood (ibid.), and Feirabend
et al. (1998) note that more than 300,000 Indos emigrated to the
Netherlands between 1945 and 1963. This migration or repa-
triation (since the migrants had or were granted Dutch citizen-
ship) can be divided into four phases (Neijndorff, op. cit.; Vri-
ezen, op.cit.):
First Wave (1945-1949)—This group included those who
went to the Netherlands directly after the Second World
War (most directly from the Japanese camps), who endured
all sorts of hardship for rehabilitation and/or who perhaps
should not return;
Second Wave (1949-1951)—These were officials and sol-
diers, who also survived many hardships in the Japanese
camps and, during the Indonesian revolution (the Bersiap
Period), in revolutionary camps as prisoners and in “protec-
tion camps” (kamp perlingdungan or beschermingskampen),
as well as in the so-called extremist camps. They returned
to Europe to await the resolution of the events in the new
Indonesia and were unsure if they would stay in the Neth-
erlands or not;
Third Wave (1952-1957)—This group included Spijtop-
tanten or Warga Negaras, that is, Dutch who took Indone-
sian nationality after independence. Forty thousand Indos
initially preferred to stay in the new state, but they had two
years to decide if they wanted Indonesian or Dutch nation-
ality permanently. Only six thousand of these finally stay ed
in Indonesia; and
Fourth Wave (1958-1967)—These were the rest of the
Dutch and migrants from Dutch New Guinea after it be-
came part of Indonesia (Irian Jaya). In 1958, the Indonesian
government decided that everyone who was not originally
an Indonesian citizen had to leave, since Indonesia still (i.e.,
in 1958) considered itself in a state of war with the Nether-
lands. This included a group of Indos that was encouraged
by the Dutch government to settle in New Guinea in 1949,
where they thought they could find a homeland. When In-
donesia annexed New Guinea in 1962, they left for the
As a final note here, the Netherlands was not the final desti-
nation for about sixty thousand of the migrants. Between 1953
and 1973, they settled primarily in the United States, but also in
Australia, New Zealand and Can ada.
Thus, it is clear that these newcomers to the Netherlands had
different backgrounds in terms of ethnicity, class, position in
the former Dutch East Indies and in their experiences during the
Second World War and thereafter. Their arrival in Europe un-
leashed many different and sometimes confused or conflicting
reactions from the Dutch. It also had a large impact on Dutch
society—in food, music, language, mentality, literature, culture
and the ethnic composition of the population.
Period of Integration
After initially hesitating, the government adopted a strong
policy of integration of the migrants, or repatrianten in Dutch.
That is, they were officially considered repatriates as a group
and not migrants, although as Section 2.2.2. showed, they were
composed of both elements. Initially, many coming from the
Indies had traumatic experiences. They returne d home to a coun-
try that felt far less their own than the country they left. (Boon
& van Geleuken, 1993). No matter how much time has now
passed and despite their integration into Dutch society, most
Indos, Totoks and other repatriated Dutchmen remember that
period with pain.
However, their fearful flight and sad departure from the In-
dies, coupled with the cold reception given them by the Dutch,
the discrimination they faced and the necessity to re-climb the
societal ladder, were met with persistence and perseverance to
adjust to their new environment.
The attitude of the migrants to “sacrifice everything for the
children” (ibid.), coupled with the policy of the government, led
to a speedy and successful integration process that was judged
accomplished by the early 1970’s (Feirabend et al., op. cit.). In
fact, even before 1970, the government felt an explicit integra-
tion policy to be superfluous. However, the absence of any spe-
cific policy for Indos has recently become a subject of discus-
sion. This especially concerns the position of the elderly among
them (ibid.). The concern is to what extent the first generation
of migrants among the Indos suffers from specific problems in
that deterioration in the physical or mental condition of retired
and ageing Indos generally leads to their dependence on Dutch
institutional care. The question then arises as to what extent
they will still feel at home in these totally Dutch institutions.
This discussion frames the research reported on here, which
seeks to contribute to a better understanding of, and hence to
the resolution of, this problem.
The Social Environment of the Indo Community
and Its SignificanceFindings,
Analysis and Disscussion
The Social Network within the Indo Community
The social network within the Indo community is one of the
critical aspects of Indo life to understand how Indos live and
pursue their leisure in the community. Community is understood
here to be a place where people live and where most of their
activities outside of work are concentrated. The social network
within the community, however, becomes even more important
during retirement, when people who have ceased working lose
a large part of the social network based on their employment
and workplace. The importance of the social network to retirees
within the Indo community will, therefore, be analysed in this
section through a consideration of a number of research ques-
tions, which are related to the above issue. These include: 1)
What role do Indo clubs play in t he community of retired Indos?
2) With what kinds of people do retired Indo mix, and who are
their friends most often (i.e., Dutch, Indo or Indonesian)? These
two research questions will be answered through the discussion
in the following sections.
The Role of Indo Clubs and Foundations
There are many reasons for forming a club, but the main ones
are to provide a forum for undertaking activities together, for
sharing interests and experiences, for socialising and doing fun
things together and for supporting each other when it is neces-
sary. Of interest to this study, then, is to determine how impor-
tant the role of Indo clubs is in the life and leisure of retired
Indos? It is first necessary to compare the incidence of club mem-
bership of the respondents at various stages in their lives. Thus,
the respondents were asked whether they had joined any club
during their y outh, as adults (i.e., while working) or during retire-
ment. They were also asked what kinds of clubs they belonged
to and their reasons for joining. The Table 1 below shows club
membership and its continuity from youth through retirement.
While the table does not indicate whether the membership of
the respondents over time is in the same or different clubs, it
does show that there is a decrease in overall club membership
among the retired Indos who have at some point in their lives
joined clubs. While 27 were club members as youths, only 20
are members in their retirement. Six out of the 27 respondents
who joined clubs in their youth discontinued membership com-
pletely when they became adults and have never rejoined clubs.
Three of the m said that they did not ha ve much time when their
Table 1.
Club membership of responde nt s .
Single Female Single Male Marr i ed Female Married MaleTotal
Yes 7 4 4 8 7 5 5 4 5 7 6 6272120
No 3 6 6 2 3 5 5 6 5 3 4 4131920
Y = Youth; A = Adult; R = Retiree.
own kids were small, and that they really spent most of their
time with family obligations and family-centred recreation. The
others simply said that they do not like being tied to any group
and having club obligations. A retired female who used to work
as an administrative clerk at the Ministry of Health in The
Hague responded when asked by the interviewer as follows:
Interviewer: Were you a member of any club before retire-
Respondent: No.
Interviewer: Please, can you tell me why not?
Respondent: Yes, it is because I dont like going to clubs and
being told what to do, when to do it and under what circum-
stances. I want to go wherever and whenever I like.
Interviewer: Tell me then, how about now, are you a member
of any club?
Respondent: No, I am not at all.
Interviewer: Why not?
Respondent: To tell you the truth, I dont need a club to do
things. I have other activities that I like to do by myself or with
my family and friends in my own time. You see, I dont have
time for a club.
In addition, from the interviews, it became clear that 12 out
of the 20 respondents who remain members of clubs have been
club joiners throughout their lives. Most of the respondents
who continue being club members do so because they enjoy the
club activities and their corresponding social life.
In addition, 4 of the 20 respondents who are club members in
their retirement joined clubs in their youth, ceased to be active
as adults and then joined again once they stopped working.
They said that before retirement they were so busy with their
work and family obligations that they did not have time for
joining any clubs. Now that they are retired, however, they
have plenty of time for doing whatever they want to do such as
joining clubs to meet other people with the same interests, to
socialise and so forth.
On the other hand, several respondents (4 of the 27) who
were active in clubs during their youth and adulthood were not
in their retirement. These were members of athletic clubs where
they played various sports when they were younger. Because of
ageing and declining health, they became inactive as athletes
and therefore gave up their club membership. They now do
other things with friends and family in their own time.
Two of the 20 retired club members did not join clubs during
the youth or adulthood, but have joined since their retirement.
One of the respondents said that after her husband passed away,
she needed to have more activities to occupy her so that she
does not stay at home and feel lonely all the time. The clubs are
a place for her to meet people and do things. On the other hand,
the other respondent was not a widow and joined a tennis club
because she wanted to have a common activity to pursue with
her husband.
Of the 20 retired Indos who are club members, 13 are mem-
bers of various Indo clubs, 8 belong to sport clubs and 6 are ac-
tive in other kinds of hobby and interest clubs. Obviously the
Indo and sports clubs are the two most popular. The reasons are
apparent from the following grouping of their comments re-
garding why they joined clubs:
Most joined clubs so that they would meet other people for
socialising, extending their friendship circle, meeting others
with the same interests, talking about the old days (“Tempo
Doeloe”), etc. (N = 16);
Other respondents became members to keep fit, for health
purposes, to participate in a sport, etc. (N = 8); and
Some joined clubs because membership keeps them busy,
and it fills their time with positive activities such as helping
other people or developing a hobby (N = 6).
The respondents were also asked another, related question,
What does the club mean to you? This question was asked as a
check on how much club membership means to the 20 respon-
dents who are active, and the answers can be grouped as fol-
The club is important and means a lot as a place to meet
other people and socialise, to do things together with other
members and to help other people (N = 9); and
The club is not so important (N = 11), although it is a place
to meet other people, socialise, do thing together with oth-
ers and help people.
The following exchange between a woman who is a former
primary school teacher and the researcher represents an exam-
ple of the first set of responses to this question. She expressed
feelings towards club membership for both herself and her
husband as a couple:
Respondent: Our clubs mean a lot to us, because they are
places for meeting people, making friends and helping other
people who need assistance.
Interviewer: What do you do at the clubs?
Respondent: Well, my husband and I help in doing various
things together with other club members. You know how it is
among the Indos; we always eat ··· and eat ··· food, enjoy our-
selves by talking to each other and of course meet other people.
Interviewer: Do you have a commitment towards the clubs?
If yes, please tell me what it is.
Respondent: Yes, certainly. We donate some money for the
clubs and for helping other people. For example, one of our
clubs always gives some money and clothes to help poor people
in Indonesia. I also write some articles and give talks on dif-
ferent topics, including my own experiences.
After analysing the respondents’ answers to the questions on
club membership and the reasons for joining them, it becomes
obvious that most of the retired Indos have joined Indo clubs in
order to meet other people, socialise, do activities together and
help others. Although only 9 have said that the club is an im-
portant aspect in their life, all the respondents have said that
their club is a place for them to meet other people, socialise, do
activities together and help people. It is clear, then, that clubs
have a significant role for a substantial segment of the retired
Indo community with regard to social life and leisure activities.
The Role of Family and Friends
An important element of Indo culture, which is due to the
heavy influence of Asian culture, is the very clear priority that
the family has in life. In Eastern cultures, it is critical to soci-
ety’s judgement of a family’s success in life to be able to show
that the family bond is strong and that the children behave
properly and have good manners. These are the main aspects to
measure in order to assess whether a family is close and happy.
Unlike with Europeans, however, there are two family cate-
gories in an Indo family that need to be taken into consideration
here. The first is the immediate family (i.e., what the research-
ers call the inner bond), which consists of children, grandchild-
dren, brothers and sisters. This is already a broader concept
than what is considered the immediate family by Europeans
(i.e., parents and their children). The rest of the family, that is,
the extended family (i.e., the outer bond), is composed of the
other relatives, but the kinship bond is also stronger here than
with Europeans. It has a high value. Love, closeness, trust,
loyalty, and respect are all bound up in these family ties. In this
respect, the family values of the Indo family resemble those of
the Indonesian family. A married, retired electrical technician,
when discussing elements of Indo culture that remain part of his
family life, said:
Respondent: Well, one thing that is still part of our family is
that the closeness and bond between family and friends is val-
ued highly.
Interviewer: How important are these things to you?
Respondent: They are very important to me.
When the respondents were asked what element of Indo cul-
ture is still part of their family life, 23 out of 40 noted how im-
portant family bonds are. This is the case even though most of
the respondents have all their family and relatives in the Neth-
erlands. In fact, 31 out of the 40 Indos interviewed in this study
have their entire inner and outer bond relations living in the
Netherlands, and only 9 have family or relatives in other parts
of the world, including Indonesia. Of those interviewed, 30 said
that they see both their inner and outer bond relations frequently,
and only 10 responded that they do not see them as often a s th ey
would like. The reasons given include distance, difficulty in
travelling and so forth. Nevertheless, they said that they keep in
touch, mostly by phoning each other. A married male, who
retired as a civil servant, was asked whether his family and re-
latives are all living in the Netherlands. He answered:
Respondent: Most of them, but I still have some family in In-
Interviewer: Do you see them (i.e., those in the Netherlands)
Respondent: Not really.
Interviewer: Please, could you tell me why not, and what do
you mean by not really if you dont mind?
Respondent: We used to visit each other often when we were
younger. Now we see each other periodically, but we are keep-
ing in touch by phone. One of the reasons is the distance. Also,
they are older than I am and not so healthy.
Friendship is also important among retired Indos. Visiting
friends and having leisure activities in common are an integral
part of the respondents’ lives. Of the 40 respondents, 13 have
said that visiting friends is part of their leisure and an important
aspect of their social lives. As will be discussed further in Sec-
tion 5, most of the respondents’ friends are Indo, and they have
thus formed a social circle among the Indo retirees, which sets
them apart from most Dutch elderly. In summation, family and
friends play a significant role in the social life and leisure
among the retired Indos of The Hague and its surroundings.
Current Leisure Facilities
The Indos are considered fully integrated into Dutch society
by the Dutch government, although the data of this study, which
are analysed in this chapter and the previous one, indicate that
they are certainly not assimilated. When they came to the Neth-
erlands, they were not considered as a separate group of com-
mon immigrants or foreign refugees from the Dutch East Indies,
but as “repatriates” or repatriaten in Dutch. That is, they were
considered along with the white Dutch repatriates as citizens
returning home. This concept of Indo repatriation explains why
they have been treated differently from the post World War II
immigrants to the Netherlands, who have come from Turkey,
Morocco and other countries. The Indos came with knowledge
of the Netherlands, which they acquired in school, and they
spoke the Dutch language. In this sense, adaptation was easier
for them. However there were many other aspects of repatriation
and life in the Netherlands to adjust to. The Indos needed legal,
financial, social and psychological support in a number of ways
to get settled in their new (or old) homeland. Consequently, they
formed clubs, associations and foundations among themselves
to provide mutual support for their relocation and integration
into Dutch life. One of the widows interviewed in this research,
who came to the Netherlands as a married woman with children
and later retired as a teacher, when asked what she thought
initially about her new country said:
To tell you the truth, I was confused and worried at that time.
We knew about the Netherlands from school, and we came here
in the past for vacation. However, we were insecure about our
future, so we were afraid to live here in the Netherlands. If we
had had a choice, we would have preferred to live in Indonesia.
You know, basically we were thrown away, so we had to leave.
Another widow, who was a retired secretary, when asked how
she had made contact with the local people and/or the Dutch to
start a new life answered:
It was hard in the beginning, because most of the Dutch did
not have much information about people from the East Indies
(Indonesia). They always asked us where we learned Dutch.
You speak Dutch very well and clearly, they would say. I told
them that I learned it on the boat on my way here. You know,
this was because there was a lack of information and knowl-
edge that we spoke Dutch in the East Indies and that we also
had a Dutch educational system, Dutch groceries, etc.
A married couple, the husband of which used to work as a
government employee said:
When we arrived here, we were put in a small room in a
pension”. We made a first contact with a Dutch social worker,
who came over to tell us how to live in the Netherlands and wha t
to do. The social worker told us, for example, that we we re onl y
allowed to take a bath once a week, so we cleaned ourselves
with a washcloth daily. It was very difficult to adjust to these
conditions, when we were used to taking a bath at least twice a
day and to changing cloth e s e v e r y day. Here all of a sudden, we
had to wear clothes for a few days before changing to fresh
ones. You can imagine how hard it was for all of us to adjust to
this new life.
Stichting Pelita
The Pelita Foundation (Stichting Pelita in Dutch) was
founded in 1947 on the initiative of repatriates to assist those
fleeing the former Dutch East Indies to adjust to life in the
Netherlands (van der Hoeven, 1996). The more than 265,000
repatrianten arrived in several waves (see Section 3.3.2.). Ini-
tially, the foundation helped these refugees with the legal issues
of their “repatriation”. The refugees, a large number of whom
were Indos (especially in the 1950s and 1960s), were seeking a
safe haven (Oei & Schreuder, 1996). In the beginning, as was
suggested above, the key word for those arriving was adapta-
tion: adaptation to Dutch society, adaptation to the Dutch cli-
mate, adaptation to the Dutch way of living and adaptation to
Dutch food. In this period, the foundation provided significant
material help. With the passage of time, however, non-material
help became much more important. Many repatriates were
haunted by the wartime past and not entirely happy with the
consequences of acculturation. Since the repatriates comprised
a number of distinct groups, the Pelita Foundation developed
programs of assistance for each of them. These groups included
Indos, Totoks, ethnic Indonesians, Molukkens, ethnic Chinese
Indonesians, children of Japanese and Korean fathers from the
occupation, the spouses of repatriates and those Indonesians
who had served in the Dutch army, i.e., the KNIL militairen
(van der Hoeven & Diederen, 1997). In all, sixteen so-called
client groups are differentiated by the foundation (van der Ho-
even & Diederen, 1998).
Of all these groups, however, the largest asking for assistance
was the Indos (van der Hoeven & Diederen, 1997). These have
also been subdivided for assistance by the foundation according
to their dates of birth; that is, those born before 1924, those
born between 1924 and 1938, those born between 1938 and
1945 and those born after 1945 (ibid.). For the purposes of this
thesis, the first two groups are significant in that they are those
who are now elderly or recently retired. The oldest among them
have often suffered and still do from isolation, the feeling of
being uprooted or homeless, fear of dying in a strange land, etc.,
all of which can lead to poor health. Moreover, the social ser-
vices sector has rather incomplete knowledge of their specific
historical, societal and cultural background (ibid.).
In contrast, some of those born between 1924 and 1938 have
suffered from difficulties at work or from unemployment and
from achieving only partial integration into the Dutch way of
life. They have also been plagued by poor relations with au-
thority, social isolation, problems in relationships, physical and
mental difficulties such as fear, depression and sleep distur-
bances, as well as financial difficulties, etc. The Pelita Founda-
tion has developed programmes to ease some of these difficult-
ties for ageing and retired Indos, including developing materials
for social workers who work with them and otherwise extend-
ing to public authorities and private caregivers their expertise
(van der Hoeven & Diederen, 1997 & 1998). The founda- tion
now has in its employ 23 social workers spread throughout the
Aside from giving advice of a legal or personal nature and
directing individuals to places where they can get expert assis-
tance or therapy, certain social activities are also organised by
the Pelita Foundation, including those for elderly and retired
Indos. Discussion groups are organised, as well as exhibitions,
fairs, etc. With regard to leisure, perhaps the most important
Pelita activity for this group is De Brug (The Bridge in English
or Jembatan in Bahasa Indonesia), which extends the opportu-
nity to meet other Indos, in someone’s home. This visiting of
family and friends at their homes has previously been men-
tioned (see Section 4.3.2. above; also see Sections 5.3.1. and
5.3.2.) as a major social activity of Indos, which they have car-
ried over from Asia to Europe. Twice a month, social gather-
ings are held to chat, eat and bridge the gap between the present
and the past. Guest speakers are sometimes invited and creative
activities organised by the volunteers (around 20) who operate
this activity for the foundation. De Brug has been in operation
for more than fifteen years.
Much additional information on the De Brug activities was
acquired in an interview with one of the Pelita social workers
who co-ordinates the programmes of De Brug. This is summa-
rised in the rest of this section.
The Masuk Saja (Just Come In) project in Amsterdam, which
was visited by the researcher, is one of the De Brug pro-
grammes and is common in other cities as well, including The
Hague. It is a sort of social club for retired Indos where they can
come in and meet each other every fortnight. There is no formal
membership, and it is a place, which is open to everybody. Any
person can simply come in and join in the activities. This pro-
gramme takes place in a community centre that is not subsidised
by the government. Instead, it is partly financed by the income
that is earned from the people participating in its various pro-
grammes who purchase food and drink there. This helps cover
operating costs such as gas, electricity, cleaning, etc. Another
source of income for the centre is Pelita itself, which rents the
building space specifically for the Masuk Saja project.
The centre building was formerly a Catholic churc h and foun-
dation, although at present, it belongs to the municipality. The
manager of the centre is a Dutch woman. The social worker
was asked what the purpose of the centre is, and he replied:
Respondent: The purpose of the centre is to put on program-
mes and activities to attract old people to come and meet others
like them and in so doing to get them out of their isolation. The
idea is that they should not spend all their time alone at home.
Thus, M asu k Saja is a ctua l ly a n at temp t to pr e ven t is ola t ion am ong
the aged/elderly in the Indo community.
Interviewer: What is the reason for locating the centre in this
Respondent: Well, in the past there were a lot of families
with children here, but when the children grew up and got jobs
elsewhere, they moved to other places in the country. Thus,
there remain a lot of old and single people in the area, many of
whom are Indo, which is one of the reasons that the centre was
founded in 1984. Another reason is that this church, reflecting
a general trend in the Netherlands, experienced a decline in
attendance after World War II, so that it became under-utilised.
The local community has, therefore, tried to bring people to-
gether in a form without any Christian religious content.
Interviewer: What kinds of programmes have been organised,
and for whom?
Respondent: Several organised activities take place here, in-
cluding, for example, drawing, clay crafts activities, various other
crafts, as well as discussion groups on different themes. These
groups also function as support groups for their members to
talk about their problems. There is also a social group, which
meets here twice a week and has a snack or a meal together, as
well as a separate Indo social group. These programmes are
mainly for old people.
Interviewer: What are the opinions of the members and visi-
tors about the programmes?
Respondent: Their opinions about the programmes are gen-
erally good, and the painting, drawing, and clay crafts active-
ties are well attended. The Masuk Saja co-ordinator of the cen-
tre, who was interviewed by the researcher, believes that it is
not the activities themselves that are so attractive, but rather
getting together with other retired Indos and gossiping that
draws the Indo elderly to them.
The Indos who come to the centre also organise a Pasar Jem-
batan once a year to display the Indonesian culture to the Dutch
and to other ethnic groups. This cultural event means a lot to
the Indos in that they can express themselves through the pro-
gramme. According to the co-ordinator, it seems they like the
event and try to do their utmost to make it a successful event.
There are other leisure activities, which have been organised
at the centre within the framework of Masuk Saja. These in-
clude gymnastics for exercise and visiting other Indo clubs (Ru-
mah Saya). These activities are organised for a group, because
people can be encouraged to participate and, whe n some people
agree, others can be convinced to take part. The latter activity,
however, doesn’t really attract the Indo club members that
much, and they don’t like doing this kind of activity for too
long according to their co-ordinator. When he was asked why,
he answered:
I think it is because they get bored visiting other clubs. It is a
hassle to get to them, and they seem to value more highly get-
ting together in a place they are used to. They also prefer being
together in small groups with Indos they know and just chatting
over food.
Pasar Jembatan has been organised especially for the Indo
people and other Dutch at the centre as part of the centre’s cul-
tural programme. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the
centre has a role in preserving the Indo culture through this
programme. The co-ordinator, when asked what the role of the
centre is in preserving Indo culture and traditions said:
The role of this club in preserving Indo culture and tradition
is very important, because there are several clubs in Amsterdam,
and each has its own character. For example, one club is for
dancing, and another is for bingo. Here, in the Masuk Saja pro-
gramme there is no bingo or dancing. It is a place to socialise
and talk about old times in Indonesia. However, with good food,
programmes and speakers, it attracts the attention of the areas
There is also another service, which this Masuk Saja project
provides to the Indo people. That is, Pelita social workers are
available at specified times with whom they can talk or discuss
a particular problem in an informal atmosphere. A special pro-
gramme for Indos takes place on Tuesday afternoon every fort-
night, where they can meet, eat and talk. Thus, after meeting
other people, chatting and eating for a while, they can turn to a
social worker for some advice. If the problem is really serious,
the social worker can schedule an appointment for a detailed
People who come and attend the programmes here are mostly
over 65 years old with a pension averaging approximately NFL
1600 to NFL 1800 (approximately US $800 to $900) net per
month. It should be noted that there are not very many Indone-
sian people who come to the programmes, and those who do,
come very seldom. About 80% of the people who attend are
Indo. Thus, a very high percentage of Indos compared to Dutch
in the community participate in the activities. This is, of course,
due to the fact that the programmes are mainly for Indos, and
the Dutch who come do so to act as volunteers to serve food
and drink, etc.
Married couples use the club more than single Indos, because
they are those who earlier came to the church with their fami-
lies, partly to socialise, so it remains a comfortable place for
them just to just that. The club is not used as a place for lonely
retired singles to find new partners. It seems there is an unspo-
ken feeling among retired or elderly Indos that if single women
(or the fewer single men) would go to the club, it would be
considered a threat to the couples.
Furthermore, when the co-ordinator was asked if meals are
served at the centre, he explained:
Respondent: Yes, meals are served in the centres canteen,
which is a very attractive feature, especially for some of the
aged who are unable to cook. Eating is the central focus of
activity, not only because of the food itself, but also because of
its social function. Thus, having a canteen in the centre is very
important, because of the central role food plays in Indo cul-
Interviewer: What kinds of food are served the most? Why is
that the case?
Respondent: Well, the food served here is Indo or Indonesian
food, because Indos, of course, expect only to eat Indonesian
Interviewer: How much does the average meal cost per per-
son? Can the people afford to pay for the activities and meals?
Respondent: Oh yes, most of the visitors can afford both the
food and activities here easily. Meals cost on average NFL 10
(US $5), and most of the activities are not expensive either. The
purpose of the programme is to attract people to partic i p at e.
Interviewer: What attracts new visitors to the centre and its
Respondent: I think new visitors come to the centre because
of the friendly and informal atmosphere of the centre itself. The
retired Indos talk to each other about the old times in Indonesia
(i.e., Tempo Doeloe), and they are interested in the guest speak-
ers who come to talk about health, Indonesian culture, and also
to relate stories about Tempo Doeloe, which they like a lot.
Stichting Tong Tong
In contrast to the various activities of the Pelita Foundation,
the Stichting Tong Tong (Tong Tong Foundation) has as its pri-
mary activity the organisation of a large Indonesian fair every
year, that i s, the Pasar Malam Besar (The Big Fair) in The Hague.
This two-week event has become a Dutch institution and is wi-
dely attended (average annual attendance exceeds 135,000) by
all elements of Dutch society. It ranks number four nationally,
in terms of attendance, behind only the annual household, auto
and vacation fairs. In addition, all Indo people residing in the
country know it as an important cultural resource. The basic
objective of the foundation is to preserve Indo culture and to
make known the culture itself to other people through the Pasar
Malam Besar. In consideration of the importance of this spe-
cific event and of the foundation in general, the researcher in-
terviewed the Director of the Pasar Malam Besar, who is also a
Board member of the Tong Tong Foundation. The rest of this
section reflects the information acquired in that meeting.
When the foundation was formed forty years ago by Tjalie
Robinson, all of those involved had come from Indonesia and
shared a common Indo background, the culture of which they
all knew about from their own direct experience. However,
with the passage of time, the Indos have had children born in
Holland, who only know Indo culture second-hand from their
parents. The whole idea of the Dutch East Indies is not real to
them. Thus, these young people and succeeding generations of
Indos need to be educated about Indo culture. For them, the
Pasar Malam Besar is an opportunity to be informed about their
background, so there are programmes about the history and
culture of the Netherlands East Indies especially aimed at them.
When the Director of Pasar Malam Besar was asked what the
purpose of the foundation is, she said:
Well, we formed the foundation and created the event with
the idea of conserving, stimulating and propagating Eurasian/
Indo culture in general. Lately, though, the programme has been
more focused on education about the Indo history and culture
for the younger generations of Indos.
The fair itself is a major event of the cultural and entertain-
ment calendar of The Hague. It takes place in an enormous
complex of tents across from the central train station in the city.
There are five theatres inside this complex, so there are five
different performances taking place on separate stages simulta-
neously. These shows offer choices to visitors ranging from
presentations with educational content to cultural events to lei-
sure activities of pure entertainment. When questioned about the
kinds of programmes that have been organised and for whom
the Director of the event explained:
Well, there are many varieties of activities and programmes
during a two-week event. There are five theatres inside the tent
with different kinds of programmes for various purposes. For
example, there are informative and intellectual discussions about
different themes related to various issues of Indo culture, his-
tory and about the Indo people in the Netherlands. They are or-
ganised and conducted by various institutions and guest speak-
ers. We organise other leisure activities of pure entertainment
as well. For instance, there are Indo singers, bands and kront-
jong musical groups from Holland that perform in the Pasar
Malam Besar each year. In addition, krontjong orchestras from
Indonesia are invited. For example, in 1998, a krontjong group
from Toegoe took part. They are from the area of Indonesia
where Krontjong Asli, the original krontjong music, is still being
played. The foundation also invites each year groups from the
different provinces of Indonesia to present their traditional
music, dance, theatre and cultural performances. This year East
Java was highlighted, and the music and dances from the area
were given special attention. Nevertheless, if there is no kront-
jong in a Pasar Malam Besar, the older Indo visitors will be
It should be noted, however, that there are other types of mu-
sic, which are very popular among Indos, such as music from
Hawaii, Caribbean, and the Antilles, country and western music,
as well as rhythm and blues, and they are also showcased at the
Pasar Malam Besar. Aside from music and dance, there are of
course other programmes with different intellectual themes.
The organisers are trying to find new groups and different pro-
grammes all the time, which Indos will want to see and enjoy.
The interviewer asked the director of Pasar Malam Besar what
the opinions of the visitors about the organised programmes are,
and she said:
The opinions of the visitors about the programmes are very
positive. The organisers conduct a survey every year after the
event, and the results have shown that, on average, visitors rate
the event 8 on a 10-point scale, which is rather good.
Nevertheless, the researcher learned in this interview that
there are several obstacles faced by the foundation. The primary
one is financial. In order to educate people, it is necessary to
continue to put on the fair, as well as to publish books and other
written materials. This requires money. While the Tong Tong
Foundation would like to publish books on different subjects
each year, for instance, a lack of base finance forces it to look
for sponsors who will give grant support to projects on a case
by case basis. It is very difficult to get such money, so this is
the first obstacle.
A second major obstacle is that most Dutch people know
very little about the history of the Dutch East Indies, and this is
reflected in the difficulty of obtaining funding. For instance, it
is very difficult to explain to such potential sponsors what the
purposes of the Tong Tong Foundation are. If one would say to
them that one is an Indo or Indo-European, then they would be
likely to say something along the lines of, “Oh you are Indone-
sian”. If one then says no, that an Indonesian is different from
an Indo, then they are likely to reply, “Oh, why dont you want
to be called an Indonesian?” The answer is, of course, that
Indos are not Indonesians. Most Dutch, then, have an inaccurate
conception of the Indo people and of Indonesian s. They still look
upon Indos as though they are a separate group of people who
own a private ship called the Pasar Malam Besar, which is only
for the Indos. The fact is that 40% of the visitors are not Indos
Nevertheless, the role of the foundation in preserving Indo
culture and traditions is very important in comparison to other
Indo organisations. The foundation has done more than any
other Indo institution in preserving the culture of the Indos. As
long as there is still money, the foundation can continue to pre-
serve the Indo culture.
One way it attempts to do this is by increasing the number of
the visitors to the Pasar Malam Besar by publishing 3 times a
year the Pasar Krant (Market Newspaper) and distributing it
throughout the Netherlands for free. Since this newspaper has
been issued, there has been an increase in the number of visitors.
The Fair is also advertised in magazines, newspapers and wher-
ever it can receive attention, and word of mouth plays a large
role. When the Director was asked how long the Indo culture
will last in the Netherlands, her response was:
This is a question that every Indo in the Netherlands should
think about. When the foundation staged the first Pasar Malam
Besar, there were people who were pessimistic about the inter-
est of the Indos in their culture. They reasoned that the older
generation of repatrianten will die out, and then it will all be
gone. In stark contrast, however, the number of visitors contin-
ues to increase, younger generations remain interested in the
event. It is very difficult to predict how long this interest will
last and in what form it will be manifested, but as long as the
Indo people remain interested in their roots, it will last. There
is a chance that this event will go on for generations, and why
not? The Indos are already in the Netherlands for three gen-
erations, and they are still coming to the Pasar Malam Besar.
Other Indo Clubs and Organisations
There are many other Indo clubs, foundations and organisa-
tions in The Hague and its surroundings, which provide differ-
ent kinds of activities for their members. Their activities are
supported by membership fees and fund-raising from the activi-
ties. The existence of the clubs depends on the members. A few
examples are OVTV—Ontspannings Vereniging Tropen Vrien-
den or Stressless Organisation of Friends from the Tropics,
Nazaten Indische Nederlanders en Sympathisanten (NINES),
Stichting Indisch Cultureel Centrum (ICC), Serukun, Bunga Ma-
yang. While these and others may have been founded for spe-
cific purposes, most Indo clubs have at their core the basic so-
cial function that is so critical to the Indos. As has been made
apparent throughout the preceding sections of this chapter, so-
cialising with friends over a good Indo meal is an extraordinar-
ily important part of the Indo value system.
The Indo social clubs also provide other kinds of program-
mes for their members. Some, such as OVTV, NINES and ICC,
organise various cultural events and sport activities, including
those for badminton, tennis, etc., travel together to places. The
types of cultural events attended normally have some connec-
tion to Indo culture and Indonesia as the birthplace of most re-
tired and elderly Indo people. The clubs also organise activities,
which interest their members. Thus, they organise Indonesian
traditional dance performances, Indonesian language courses,
Indonesian traditional Angklung music performances (i.e., mu-
sicians playing bamboo musical instruments with long rods that
are swung back and forth to create melodies and rhythms), Indo
and Indonesian traditional fashion shows, Indo and Indonesian
cooking classe s and so fort h. The role of clubs, or ganisations and
foundations is important for the Indo community in providing
them a place to meet other Indos, to participate in activities to-
gether, and, to a certain extent, to help in preserving the Indo
culture, traditions and manners.
In a detailed interview, the Chairman of OVTV was asked
several questions regarding the kinds of the club activities or
programmes that have been organised for members. He com-
mented as follows:
Basically, we organise programmes at which people can en-
joy other the company of others meet more people and have a
good time. Based on this, we organise six dance parties a year,
a small event called Soos Avond (Evening Club), a bridge
club once a week, bowling on the third Friday of every month,
a tennis championship once a year, as well as group travel to
other European countries and some places in the Netherlands.
However, we try hardest to keep our social bonds strong through
our main event, which is called Mid Wijk”. We go to a good
hotel in Holland once a year. This year (1998), it will be held at
Present Palace in Amello. The main idea of this activity is to
bring all our members together. I think it is nice for the mem-
bers to have such a holiday together, particularly for the single
ones who feel they can not go to some place s because they dont
have partners. For the Mid Wijk, this is not a problem since
they can go with all their friends in the club. Besides these ac-
tivities, the club also organises different cultural events that are
mostly related to Indonesian and Indo culture as part of our big
evenings for different occasions. One of our purposes is pro-
vide Indonesian and Indo culture for our members who are
mostly Indos coming from the East Indies. They comprise about
90% of our club membership. They really liked and responded
well to cultural events.
These are, naturally, not the only leisure opportunities for
Indos in their communities. There are many other leisure facili-
ties available to Indos, in general, and the respondents of this
study, in particular. However, these are the same swimming
pools, community centres, libraries, etc. used by the local peo-
ple in general. Actually, there are not many special leisure fa-
cilities or Indo clubs only for Indos in The Hague and its sur-
roundings, which are connected to the local community. The
Indo people are considered to be fully integrated into Dutch
society, and local government, therefore, does not feel any need
to pay any attention to the issue of whether it is necessary to
support retired Indos, who feel more comfortable doing things
with other Indos in their leisure time. It is necessary, then, for
those retired Indos who want to meet and be with other Indos to
make individual efforts to find and join a club, which suits their
leisure needs, and where they feel comfortable according to their
norms and culture, or to form small social groups among their
friends and families.
Integration into Dutch Society
Beyond considering the social network within the Indo com-
munity, integration into Dutch society is also an important ele-
ment in the consideration of Indo leisure. It is, therefore, nec-
essary to look at the relevant research questions, which can help
in providing a basis for the discussion of this matter in the fol-
lowing sections. These inc l u de:
1) To what extent do the Indos themselves try to maintain
their unique Indo culture?
2) What elements of Indonesian culture do the Indos find it
important to maintain in their old age in the Netherlands?
3) What do the retired Indos do to retain the Indonesian as-
pects of their culture?
4) What elements of Dutch culture do the Indos feel uncom-
fortable with in their old age?
5) How close do these Indo people now feel to Indonesia?
These research questions will be answered in sequence through
the discussion of the following sections.
The Importance of Self Identity
Self-identity is an important aspect of social life. As a social
being, each individual needs to identify oneself in terms of cer-
tain social traits and values belonging to a particular social group.
The study population in this thesis considers itself as Indo with
regard to its physical and social characteristics. They come from
the same background and/or place, and they are characterised
by mixed blood and a mixed culture of the East and West. The
way in which the Indos in this st udy identify themselves is sum-
marised in Table 2 below.
While half of those interviewed for this study (20 of 40) con-
sider themselves completely Indo, a large number of the respon-
dents (18 of 40) have identified themselves as both Indo and
Table 2.
How respondents identify themselves.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Dutch 0 0 1 0 1
Indo 3 5 5 7 20
Both 6 5 4 3 18
International 1 0 0 0 1
Total 10 10 10 10 40
Dutch. It is clear here that they are not pure Dutch or Indone-
sian in their own eyes, and they also don’t simply feel Indo-Eu-
ropean but rather specifically Indo-European Dutch. Naturally
they have different traditions, values, norms and culture than
the pure Dutch or Indonesian, but what precisely is Indo culture
according to them? Table 3 below illustrates this.
The respondents are split basically into two groups. In the
first, 16 out of 40 respondents feel that their culture is more
Eastern or Asian in its characteristic values. These respondents
were born in Indonesia and have strong feelings of connection
to their birthplace. They have been brought up in more of an
Eastern way of doing thing s, so they feel more comfortable con-
sidering themselves as such, rather than as Dutchmen with di-
rect and unseemly Western manners. They also feel that the Indo
culture is completely different than that of the Dutch. They feel
their own way of life is Asian or Eastern. They are hospitable,
warm towards others and consider themselves easy going in
their social attitude. For example, it is not necessary for a visi-
tor to make appointment to come to their homes. One just visits,
and if they are not home, it is too bad. However, if they are at
home, unannounced visitors are always welcome. It is very dif-
ferent attitude from that of the Dutch, who expect one to make
an appointment first rather than disturb one’s plans or privacy.
Thus, when one of the married respondents, who retired as a
government employee, was asked what he understands Indo
culture to be said:
Indo culture to me means hospitality and gotong royong
(i.e., helping each other spontane ously ). Eating together is a part
of this because we like eating so much. Extending friendliness
and openness to other people is also important. For example
you can not just go to a Dutch home without an appointment,
but you can do this with an Indo family.
Another, similar view from the first group is that of a wid-
ower who is a retired construction company engineer. He said:
Well, it is difficult to say exactly what Indo culture is, how-
ever it is better for me to describe it. We as Indos have different
a way of life. I mean, Indos are completely different than the real
Dutch. The Indos are more easy going in many ways, for in-
stance, it is not necessary to make an appointment to visit a
friend. You just come and if they are not at home is a bad luck.
If they are there, you are always welcome and share what they
have at home with you. It is quite different when you compare
to the Dutch way.
Members of the second group, however, i.e., 17 respondents
out of 40, feel that their Indo culture is actually a mixed culture
of the European and Asian. According to them, Indos are mixed
blood, so their culture is also mixed. That is to say that the Indo
culture reflects the origin of the people. One of the married res-
pondents who retired as a secretary explained:
I have two cultures, that is, one from Indonesia and the other
Table 3.
How respondents charac terise Indo culture.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Euro/Western 0 0 1 0 1
Asian/Eastern 4 3 5 4 16
Mixed 4 4 4 5 17
from the Netherlands, and I, as well as other Indos, have the
opportunity to take the best of both.
This view was echoed by a married woman, who retired as
primary teacher, when she said that:
Being Indo means you have mixed blood from different kinds
of people in the world, so our culture is also just like our blood.
To me Indo culture is a mixture of different cultures, which are
predominantly both Eastern and Western.
Nevertheless, there were 7 respondents who felt that they
don’t have any culture of their own; that is, they felt there is no
unique Indo culture. One of the single male respondents, a re-
tired graphic designer, was of the opinion that:
There is no Indo culture. As an Indo either you choose Indo-
nesian or Dutch culture, so being Indo, you have to ma ke a choice.
Whether you take the culture of your father or your mother de-
pends on the individual.
A similar, if slightly more controversially formulated, re-
sponse was given by a retired single male, who was formerly an
administrative clerk in an insurance company. He said:
There is no Indo culture. I think Indo culture is actually In-
donesian culture, which was brought with and adopted by us. I
mean Indos who live here. I think there is no such thing as an
Indo culture, I just dont believe in it. You know, some Indo
persons will kill me for saying this, if they hear it.
Living as a Subculture in the Netherlands
The respondents a re Indos, and at t he same time they are Dutch.
Being Indo and living in the Netherlands, they are not comple-
tely comfortable when their Indo norms and values come into
conflict with Dut ch ones. Indos have their own tra ditions, norms,
habits, and culture, which are quite different than the Dutch.
Although most of the retired Indos in this study are integrated
into Dutch society and have to accept the norms of the society
around them, they are by no means assimilated, so the respon-
dents retain their own traditions, habits, norms and values,
which are not fully European or Asian. These unique elements
have become part of an identifiable Indo subc ulture. While living
in the Netherlands as Dutch citizens and integrating themselves
into Dutch society, they have nonetheless retained the elements
of their separateness in Indonesia and further developed a cul-
ture for themselves in the Netherlands. For example, there is a
Dutch Indo vocabulary, an Indo way of expressing and speak-
i ng, Indo food, whic h is neither Indone sian nor Dutch, Indo cloth-
ing, and so forth. The Indo traditions, habits, norms and values
will be discussed further in Section 3.3.4.
Here, though, it is useful to show that as Indos, they will al-
ways see their country differently than their ethnic Dutch both-
ers and sisters. The respondents have been asked what they like
least about the place in the Netherlands where they are living at
the present time. The responses to this question determine what
they like least about their immediate environment. Of the 40
respondents, 17 mentioned that, seen from a social perspective,
they don’t like the rough attitude and impolite manners of the
Dutch (the Indo term is kasar). In addition, 14 respondents
have indicated that they don’t like the weather. There are 6 who
cite the increase of youth crime and vandalism nowadays, and
one who dislikes Dutch politics. The other 2 respondents didn’t
have any opinion.
The following exchange is a good illustration of how an Indo
feels being in the Netherlands and of how spending one’s child-
hood in the Dutch East Indies can influence an Indo person’s
sense of belonging. The respondent retired as a graphic designer
and now writes books about different subjects related to his
Asian birthplace He came to the Netherlands in 1937, when his
father completed a job assignment in the East Indies. He was 11
years old when he arrived in The Hague. The respondent was
asked what was his favourite place/city during his youth, and he
Respondent: Well, I spent part of my youth in Sukabumi, East
Indies and part in The Hague. However, I must say The Hague
was my favourite city, and it remains so even until now.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Respondent: Because it is near the sea. You know, I love wa-
ter, and The Hague is a city of Indo pe ople. Its nickname is the
widow of Indonesia”.
Interviewer: Wha t do yo u l ik e most about the Netherlands?
Respondent: It is sad to say, but I dont now and never have
felt at home in the Netherl ands. However social security is good
Interviewer: Could you tell me then, what do you like least?
Respo nde nt: I must say the Dutch are rude (kasar) and impolite.
Being Dutch citizens, but having nevertheless different val-
ues in reacting to and observing the environment where they live
is quite significant in determining what elements of Dutch cul-
ture and values that the retired Indo respondents feel uncom-
fortable with during their old age. Listed below are the social
attitudes and values of the Dutch people that have been seen by
the respondents as norms and values that contradict Indo norms,
and which make them feel uncomfortable when they are con-
fronted with them. Those statements of the respondent s that have
similar meanings have been grouped together and each respon-
dent has given several uncomfortable aspects, which they feel
uneasy. Thus what has been found offensive include:
The attitudes that reflect rudeness, roughness, impoliteness,
aggressiveness and unfriendliness (N = 30);
The attitudes which indicate excessive care in spending
money (N = 3); and
The attitudes that show formality and stiffness in making
new acquaintances which give an impression that someone
is keeping their distance from you (N = 5).
These attitudes make the respondents feel uneasy at times in
the communities in which they live. Sometimes the Dutch cha-
racteristic of directness in reacting to a question or social situa-
tion can make Indos, even after many years in the Netherlands,
feel that Dutch individuals are unfriendly. One of the male res-
pondents, a former technical officer at one of the Delta Works
Projects was asked what element or part of Dutch culture he
feels uncomfortable with. He has pointed out what he feels to
be an explanation here. He mentioned that:
The Dutch are very rational, but without emotion. On the other
hand as an Indo, I feel that I am also rational, but at the same
time, what I do and how is coloured by my emotions.
A married couple has another explanation regarding the un-
friendliness among the neighbours where they live. They feel
the Dutch are quite individualistic, and this results in unfriend-
liness. To quote, they noted:
You know, we have been living here for a long time, but we
dont even know the neighbours who live around us. They say
good morning and hello, and thats about it. This distant atti-
tude makes us feel uncomfortable and forces us to find other
Indo people to make the acquaintance of.
Despite all this, the retired Indos in this study are quite inte-
grated into Dutch society. However, they still consider them-
selves as Indos who feel more comfortable a ssoci ating with other
Indo people who can understand and recognise their feelings,
values, habits, traditions, and so forth. Moreover, the respon-
dents are retired now and have more time for their leisure. As
the results fro m the interviews re garding clubs show, which have
been discussed above, most of the respondents who have joined
the clubs belong to Indo clubs or organisations. It is very natu-
ral that the respondents feel more comfortable a mong other I ndos
in sharing their leisure activities.
The Netherlands as Motherland
The Netherlands is where the respondents in this study now
live. Except for one lady, they have been living in the Nether-
lands longer than they lived in Indonesia. However, even this
person has lived 40 years in the Netherlands. She is 83 and
therefore lived 43 years in the East Indies! The respondents
have, nevertheless, been asked whether, if they had the oppor-
tunity, they would go back to Indonesia and live there. Of the
40 respondents, 28 clearly stated that they wouldn’t live in
Indonesia any more. They gave several reasons, and they can be
grouped as follows:
They like living in the Netherlands, and they are settled and
used to the Dutch way of life after so many years of living
in the country. They don’t know if they can fit in any more
and adjust themselves into the present way life in Indonesia
(N = 26);
Their families and friends are here in the Netherlands (N =
10); and
They had bad experiences during the revolution and still
feel threatened (N = 1).
On the other hand, 9 of the respondents said that they would
go back and live there if they had the opportunity. These inter-
viewees gave as reasons that some of their roots are in Indone-
sia, and they love the Indonesian way of life. However, two of
the respondents also mentioned that one factor could stop them
from going. They were referring to their grandchildren. A typi-
cal attitude is reflected in the response of a married couple.
When they were asked whether they would go back to Indone-
sia to live if they had the opportunity, they replied:
If we had the opportunity, yes, no doubt we would go and
live there. I (the husband) have had this thought before. I mean,
when I was younger, I thought that if I were retired, I would
live in Indonesia. It turns out differently now. After having grand-
children, I tried several times to go to Indonesia for 4 to 5 weeks.
I missed them, and it was painful. I dont think I could really
live so far away from them.
There were also 3 respondents who would like to live in both
countries if they had the opport unity. It is very difficult for them
to choose to leave the Netherlands because of family, friends
and the lives that they have built after many years living in the
country. Ideally, however, they would love to be able to live six
months in the Netherlands and another six months in warm and
sunny Indonesia. For example, a widow who is a retired secre-
tary said:
If I could live in Indonesia, I would miss my family and
friends. However, if there was the possibility that I could live in
both countries—for example, if I could live in Indonesia for 6
months and live here for the other half of the year. Then it would
be an ideal situation. I would live in the two countries, which I
love most. You know, I didnt think I could make a choice if I
had to choose. I wont say that I wouldnt like to live in Indone-
sia, because I love the country and people.
The Importance of the Indo Culture for Future Generations
As has been discussed in a previous section, the Indo culture
according to the respondents in this study is a mixed European
and Asian one. Nevertheless, each individual has a different
strength of feeling with regard to whether he or she feels more
attraction to the Asian way of life or the European. It depends
more or less on one’s upbringing, and on how much one has
been exposed by his or her parents to both cultures. How close,
then, do the retired Indos in this study feel to Indonesia now?
The following Table 4 indicates this.
It is very significant that the overwhelming majority of re-
spondents (36 of 40) still feel close to Indonesia even after all
the years of living in the Netherlands. What factors influence
the feeling of the retired Indos toward their birthplace? Why do
they feel this way? These two questions will be analysed in the
discussion, which follows, in order to see what Indo cultural ele-
ments the retired Indos themselves find important to maintain
in their family lives in the Netherlands and pass on to future
The Norms and Values of Indo Traditions
To understand fully the Indo subculture in the Netherlands, it
is important to determine which Indo habits and values brought
from the East Indies, which distinguish Indos from the ethnic
Dutch, are still part of the Indo way of life in Europe. Main-
taining these values and habits is as important to being Indo as
being of mixed race. The respondents don’t feel comfortable
without them in their daily life, and they include:
Using water to clean oneself after using the toilet;
Eating Indo food several times a week;
Having close family bonds and getting together with rela-
tives and friends;
Having good manners according to Indo values and norms.
This includes such elements as hospitality politeness, pa-
tience, kindness, friendliness, warm feelings towards each
other, helping others, respect for the elderly and older per-
sons in general;
Maintaining the use of the Indo language (Petjok has the
old Malays base vocabulary), which was used when living
in the East Indies prior to repatriation; and
Having Indonesian objects around the house.
This list was compiled from the answers of all respondents
when they were asked what things or parts of Indo culture are
still part of their family life. A married couple gave an interest-
ing response. The husband was a retired employee of the Min-
istry of Education, and the wife had devoted herself to being the
homemaker for the family. They replied:
Table 4.
How close the respondents feel to Indonesia.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Very Close 1 4 4 3 12
Close 6 4 4 5 19
Fairly Close 2 0 2 1 5
Not Close 1 2 0 1 4
Total 10 10 10 10 40
Respondents: Well, the elements of Indo values which our
family still practice are Indo manners which we consider as
politeness (halus) towards other people. Hospitality and open-door
traits, which mean everybody is welcome, are some of our fam-
ily traits. Our children like to speak some Indonesian words. It
is actually petjok”. Oh, another one that is equal ly important is
Indo or Indonesian food, if you want to consider it. It is still part
of our main food. We eat Indo/Indonesian fo od five times a week,
and we eat potatoes and other normal Dutch food twice a week.
Interviewer: How important are these things to you?
Respondents: Oh, they are very important.
All respondents were also asked to comment on the impor-
tance of Indo cultural elements to them individually. Their re-
sponses indicate their overwhelming closeness to things and va-
lues Indo. Table 5 below summarises and groups their answers:
The Importance of Maintaining Indo Culture, Traditions and
Given these answers about the importance of various aspects
of Indonesian culture, traditions, norms and values in their lives,
the researcher then sought to find out if they actually still prac-
tised them. Thus, the question was posed as to, What elements
or parts of Indonesian culture do you still maintain or keep?
The answers can be grouped into several categories as follows:
Personal habits: Included here are eating Indo food, eating
in the Indo manner (i.e., with a fork and spoon or with the
hand), and other Indonesian habits such a s using water (botol
tjebok) to clean oneself after using the restroom, taking a
ba th with a scoop for po uring the water over the body (mandi
pakai/pake ganjung) and using a long pillow, the so-called
Dutch-wife or guling (36 positive responses out of 40);
Manners: This comprises kindness, politeness, patience, re-
spect of an elderly or elder person, warm and friendly feel-
ing towards others, helping each other, etc. (N = 21);
Hospitality: Here are included being a good host and wel-
coming guests (N = 35); and
Culture: This covers language and music (N = 10).
The following is a response to the above given by a married
man, who retired as a government employee. He declared:
Respondent: I still maintain the way of living that I got from
my parents. I still use botol tjebok”, eat Indo or Indonesian food
every day, have polite manners according to Indo values (“ha-
lus”) such as hospitality and so forth.
Interviewer: How important these elements to you?
Respondent: They are very important to me, and the most
important thing is that my feelings wont deny it. This comes
from inside me.
From these responses, it appears that the Indo retirees of The
Hague and its surroundings still strongly practise many ele-
ments of Indo culture. However, an important indicative factor
in the practise of any culture is the consumption of meals re-
flecting the typical cuisine of the country from which a group
of people originates. To separate this from the categories dis-
cussed above, the researcher looked at how often the respon-
dents, all of whom were born in what is now Indonesia, eat
Table 5.
The importance of Indo values and habits to the respondents.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Very Important 8 8 7 7 30
Important 2 2 3 3 10
Not So Important 0 0 0 0 0
Total 10 10 10 10 40
Indonesian food in a week. Table 6 below presents the results:
It is obvious from this set of responses that the Indo retirees
of the study population remain strongly attached to at least this
element of the Indo culture. They will clearly miss the food if
they are not able to eat it for a while.
Accepting the importance of Indo culture to the respondents,
along with the fact that their lives are imbued with the tradi-
tions and habits of that culture, the salient factor in wanting to
maintain the Indo culture, along with its norms and values, for
future generations is tied to the compelling feelings that the
respondents have towards Indonesia itself. Consequently, the
question was asked, Do you still consider yourself part of In-
donesia? Of the 40 respondents, 30 said yes, 9 said no, and 1
said sometime s. The following are some sample comments from
several respondents.
A widow who retired as a secretary said:
Respondent: Yes , definitely I am still part of Indonesia.
Interviewer: In what way?
Respondent: I still keep the language, food and I practise an
Indo way of life, which is close to an Indonesian one.
A single male who used to work as administrative clerk an-
Yes, I do, because I was born there and also my parents and
grandparents were born there. It is like Tanah tumpah dara-
hku for me too. In every way, I feel an attachment that I cant
describe—just like a blood tie, which you cant see. To me, it is
important, and I feel strongly about it. Until the day I die, I wi ll
feel that way.
Here as well are the responses of the couple of which the
husband is a retired technical officer from the Delta Works
Project and the partner previously worked as an administrative
clerk at one of ministries. He said:
No, I am not part of Indonesia, because I am not oriented to
Indonesia. Yes, my youth was spent there, but not all of my life.
However, I like the Indonesian people and country, because I
was born there.
She answered:
No, because I feel that now I belong here. I have lived in the
Netherlands longer than in Indonesia, but I feel special for
Indonesia only because it is my birthplace. However, I keep up
my interest in Indonesia by reading and watching TV shows
about Indonesia.
The respondents have given a number of reasons for their
responses. Of the 30 who answered positively, 20 said that they
responded yes because they practise Indo customs in their daily
life, which they feel is based on the Indonesian way of life.
Another 10 answered yes because they consider that their roots
are in Indonesia, and that this is a part of them that they can not
deny and is always deep in their hearts. Those 9 that answered
no did so because they feel they have been living in the Neth-
erlands too long and don’t have any connection any more with
the country. Finally, one person answered that he sometimes
feels Indonesian and sometimes not. When this respondent is
reminded specifically of Indonesia by something around him,
he feels Indonesian. Otherwise, in his normal life in the Neth-
erlands, he feels Dutch and doesn’t think of Indonesia.
To confirm this overwhelming connection to Indonesia, the
direct question was posed, Do you miss Indonesia? Of the 40
respondents 32 answered y es and only 8 no. The researcher then
asked what specifically was missed, and the next Table 7 sum-
marises these answers:
Most of the respondents who miss Indonesia seem to miss
most the Indonesian way of life and the country’s people. One
married female respondent expressed her feelings in the fol-
lowing way:
Table 6.
Frequency of Indonesian meals per week.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Every Day 4 4 8 8 24
3 - 4 x/Week 4 4 2 2 12
2 x/Week 2 2 0 0 4
Once a Week 0 0 0 0 0
Never 0 0 0 0 0
Total 10 10 10 10 40
Table 7.
Aspects of Indonesia missed by t he re s p on d ents.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
The People 3 5 5 8 21
The Country 3 2 0 3 8
Nature 2 1 0 2 5
Climate 3 5 5 6 19
Way of Life 5 6 5 8 24
Note: Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer. Hence the total
number of response s i s more than the number of respondents.
Now I am getting older, and I dont know why, but I am
longing for Indonesia more. Perhaps I am longing for my roots.
A married male respondent replied:
When I am in Indonesia, I feel that I am human, and I feel
like being among them.
Another married male noted:
I often dream about Indonesia in my sleep.
Given the importance of Indo values and habits to the re-
spondents, the question arises as to how these can be maintained
for future generations. An obvious follow up question, then, has
been asked; that is, How did/do you keep your Indo culture for
your children or family? These are some responses of the inter-
viewees. First, a couple who have retired as a controller for
social insurance and as a secretary said:
We try our best to let them see how we live and where we
com e fr o m, and we talk about it. We hope that they will take some
good things from us. Well, basically, we try to be examples, such
as when we practise a hospitab le attitude towards our kids.
A widow, who is a retired secretary, said:
Well, I taught my children about the Indonesian adat (way
of life), which is part of Indo culture. I talked about Indonesia a
lot. As you can see, I still speak the language and even speak
In addition, a widower who used to work as an administra-
tive clerk at the Ministry of Justice answered:
I keep my Indo culture for my children and family by giving
them the same upbringing that I got from my parents, especially
from my mother. My grandma was Indonesian and she taught
me her way of life, including good manners, hospitality and how
to be polite.
Finally, a married couple who worked as an exploration ge-
ologist and a typist replied:
You know, we try to keep our children attached to Indo cul-
ture by eating Indonesian/Indo food at home. We eat Indone-
sian/Indo food six times a week and Dutch food once a week.
We also try to show them Asian hospitality and re spect for older
These and the rest of the responses that were given were gath-
ered and grouped together to suggest the different appro a ch e s t ha t
have been chosen by respondents. These are:
Through family education by practising the culture, norms,
traditions, values directly or indirectly at home (N = 21);
By talking about one’s background and experience in Indo-
nesia and reminding the children that they are of mixed
blood (N = 9);
Choosing not to practise Indo culture or tradition and letting
the children choose what they feel comfortable with (N = 3);
Practising Indo values, tradition, and culture closely or to
some extent, although there are no children to pass them on
to (N = 7).
Thus, the most common way of maintaining the Indo culture
among the respondents’ families is by practising the culture,
norms, values and traditions directly and indirectly at home
through family education. Some of the ways in which the re-
spondents described the methods used are enlightening. A male
respondent said, “I am still clinging to the values that my par-
ents have given to me, that is, “met de hoed in de hand, kom je
door het ganse land” (a figurative expression meaning with
friendliness you will get everywhere). For him this phrase en-
compasses an important value. One fe male respondent welc omed
the researcher to her house by saying, “Please come in, take off
your hat and take a seat; you will have all my hospitality”. It
seems the family values passed down by Indo parents play a big
role in the ideas of the Indo respondents in this study with re-
gard to their parental duty for their own families, as well as for
the ways in which the respondents themselves conduct their
daily lives.
The second most common method, which was chosen by the
respondents to keep the Indo culture alive and maintain the con-
nection to Indonesia for their children and families was by tell-
ing stories about past experiences in, and talking about, Indone-
sia. Some of them keep reminding their kids that they are of mi xed
blood, so that they will feel comfortable identifying themselves
as Indos.
Thus, the importance of the Indo culture for future genera-
tions starts from how each existing Indo family itself values the
culture. In this study, most of respondents have strong feelings
towards the Indo way of life and its norms and values; and t hese
are important for them to hand down to their children and to
future Indo generations.
Finally, it is useful to summarise a few of the most important
points about the role of Indo clubs, foundations and organisa-
tions, as well as about the integration of Indos into Dutch soci-
ety, to conclude this section.
First, while the retired Indos of The Hague and its surround-
ings profiled in this study have various reasons for joining
clubs, it is significant that 50% of the respondents do belong to
some type of club. Moreover, Indo clubs are clearly the most
popular among them. Most of these are social clubs to meet
other Indo people for leisure. In some ways as well, the clubs
also play a role in preserving Indo culture by organising differ-
ent kinds of cultural events, which relate and connect these
people to the past and their culture.
Most leisure facilities available to the population interviewed
for this study where they live are those facilities available to the
general public. The Indo people are considered fully integrated
into Dutch society by the national and local governments, so no
special facilities supported by government exist for them. For
those who want to participate in leisure activities with other
Indos, private or foundation supported Indo clubs near their
places of residence exist in The Hague and its surroundings.
The Indo-Europeans of this study are Dutch citizens, who
have resided in the Netherlands for over 40 years, but who have
a different culture from the ethnic Dutch and have formed a
distinct subculture in Dutch society. The Indo culture, accord-
ing to the respondents, is a mixed European and Asian one,
with tight family bonds and close friendships forming impor-
tant elements to treasure in their lives. A social life with friends
and family is an extremely important leisure activ ity for most of
the respondents.
Having a different culture from the ethnic Dutch and having
moved from their Asian homes to a new place in Europe, the
Indos of this study, all of whom are now retired, needed to ad-
just quickly and adapt themselves to settle in and build new
lives. All of the respondents in this study have done very well
in this regard. However, they retain their Indo culture and main-
tain it within their families, hopefully for future generations as
Leisure Activities among the Retired Indos and
Their Significance—Findings,
Analysis and Discussion
Introduction to Leisure among Indos
This section deals with the analysis of the leisure activities of
retired Indos living in The Hague and its surroundings. This
will be accomplished by considering the interview data in rela-
tion to the following research questions:
What kinds of leisure activities do they pursue in general?
To what extent does the Indonesian culture, which was ex-
perienced in childhood, influence the leisure activities of
the retired Indos in The Hague and its surroundings?
Do Indos feel closer to the Indonesian way of life or to the
Dutch lifestyle in pursuing their leisure activities?
What role do Indo clubs play in the community of retired
What kinds of people do the Indos mix with, and who are
their best friends?
Influence of Culture on Leisure Activities
The choice of leisure activities that one pursues reflects indi-
vidual preferences and habits that have developed since child-
hood. Discussing with an individual his or her preferences and
habits is not easy for all people, and it is difficult to determine
if a particular situation that occurs in one person’s experience
will fit another with the same background. Preferences and habits,
however, can be viewed in a more general sense with regard to
several aspects that may influence personal behaviour, mood
and feelings towards something. First, one can look at the back-
ground of a person; that is, where this person actually comes
from in terms of the quality of his/her family life, the financial
situation of the family while he/she was growing up, the type
and cohesiveness of the community at that time, etc. This helps
in identifying how leisure preferences have developed for a cer-
tain individual. Other aspects, which influence one’s personal
habits and preferences for leisure, are the values placed on, and
strength of, tradition and culture for that person. Since people
of mixed race, ethnicity or culture are very conscious of cultural
values, the researcher examines culture as one of the strong
influences on the leisure activities of the population that is con-
sidered in this study. In order to look at the leisure activities of
retired Indos, the researcher pays close attention to the ques-
tions: 1) To what extent does the Indonesian culture which was
experienced in childhood influence the leisure activities of the
retired Indos of The Hague and its surroundings? 2) What
kinds of leisure activities do they pursue in general? In order to
answer these research questions, it is necessary to examine a
number of responses from the interviewees. Since the method-
ology used in this research included not only written answers to
117 questions in interviews ranging from two to three hours in
length, but also in the complete taping of all interviews, the
researcher has been able to reconstruct each interview and lis-
ten to it several times. This has strengthened her understanding
of this unique group.
Looking at the childhood background of the researched sub-
jects in this study, the researcher must look back to the condi-
tions of their early lives in the Dutch East Indies (now Indone-
sia). One must understand how the colonial society and its com-
munity structures were organised at that time to understand this
group at present (See Section 2.2.1.).
Indo society, then, was structured so that individuals per-
ceived themselves in relation to others with regard to their rela-
tive privileges, status and position in the Indo community. This
was reinforced by the fact that neighbourhoods were also seg-
regated according to status. Any particular neighbourhood was
only for a certain kind of people with a specific status. In fact,
you could see immediately the position and status of a person
by the neighbourhood in which he/she lived. Thus, the majority
of indigenous people lived in a kampung (village). This was
separated from the Dutch settlements, so that typically Dutch
kids had little or no contact with the kampung kids who may
have lived just behind their houses.
There were also clear distinctions between the Dutch and lo-
cal school systems at that time. Aside from whites, only Indos
with privileges could go to Dutch schools, although a few in-
digenous people with status were exceptions and were able to
attend. Other poor Indos who lived in a kampung (village) and
almost all indigenous people were excluded, however, and had
little education beyond the most rudimentary. Thus, at that time
if an Asian was able to attend MULO (junior high school)
she/he was considered relatively well educated. To reach the
HBS level (senior high school) was rare and considered very
good fortune. According to the social profiles of this study,
then, the Indos interviewed are rather well educated for their
generation. Ranging in age from 56 to 85, and with a mean age
of 69.6, all 40 have completed a minimum of MULO, with 34
having completed at least HBS/MTS. Of the 40, moreover, 15
completed some kind of non-academic, but post-secondary
school, and 8 completed university or another tertiary educa-
This is also reflected in the professions of the interviewees
and their last jobs prior to retirement. None, for example were
factory workers or manual labourers. Their last positions in-
cluded many with middle level administrative positions. These
included: 1 laboratory assistant, 1 postal employee, 9 secretar-
ies and typists, 9 ad ministrative clerks at various levels in min-
istries or private companies, 1 technician, 1 communications of-
ficer for the municipality of The Hague. Howe ver , so me had pro-
fessional positions. These included: 1 director of a foundation,
1 high-ranking p olice officer, 1 graphic desi gner, 1 engineer with
a construction company, 1 technical officer on a Delta Works
project, 1 chief ship’s engineer, 1 cost estimator for a construc-
tion company, 4 teachers, 1 controll er for social insurance, 1 naval
officer, 1 army officer, 1 exploration geologist, and 1 psycho-
logist. Two were housewives.
Also according to the social profiles of those interviewed, it
is clear to the researcher that all the interviewees had experi-
enced the Dutch school system during the Dutch colonial pe-
riod in the East Indies. The schools they attended were mixed
schools. Although they were primarily for the Dutch, Indos
with Dutch nationality and privileged Asians were allowed to
attend. The respondents also indicated that they lived primarily
in mixed neighbourhoods and had a social group of friends that
was somewhat mixed. However, further probing exposed the
fact that most of their friends were Indos, with only a very few
who were white Dutch or local Indonesians. Thus, Indos lived
mostly within their own community in the East Indies, with its
unique mixture of Western and Eastern lifestyle. Their income
was also at a level between that of the Dutch and Indonesian
ethnic groups in the East Indies. At present, in their retirements,
their individual income is well distributed, although single men
tend to earn more than single wo men, and couples also do rather
well – better as a group than even the single men (although the
income is for both). Moreover, all 10 couples own cars, com-
pared to 5 of 10 single men and only 1 single woman.
Currently, the daily life of Indos in the Netherlands is greatly
influenced by the Dutch lifestyle. All but one (a Buddhist) are
Christian (with 22 Catholic and 17 Protestant), and not Moslem
as most Indonesians, for example, although only 28 of them
practice religion actively, which is a higher percentage (70%)
than the Dutch population as a whole. The Dutch lifestyle, of
course, means more than just religion, and some basic elements
are different from those of the East Indies. The researcher iden-
tified these elements during her five years of residence in The
Hague, and they were confirmed by interviews with two Dutch
academics. One is an engineer with many years overseas ex-
perience in Indonesia and elsewhere, and the second a univer-
sity lecturer in Rotterdam, who has lived half his life in devel-
oping countries.
First, it is important to highlight the fact that the whole edu-
cational system in the Netherlands is focussed on developing
thoughtful and independent individuals. Dutch schools do not
emphasise the institution of the family as the cornerstone of so-
ciety as in Indonesia. This also means the Dutch are taught to
be self-reliant, but also open to different views. This might be
one of the reasons it is a relatively liberal society.
The Dutch educat ional system is reflected i n the way the Dutch
spend their free time and their vacations. Normally, there is not
a lot of pressure on children, especially after they become teen-
agers, to spend leisure time with the family, although it is ap-
preciated. The choice is, generally speaking, that of each indivi-
dual. Sometimes the older children spend their leisure with the
family and sometimes with their friends. However, Christmas
and Easter are special times when entire families come together.
Another Dutch characteristic is that they prefer to spend their
leisure time in small groups or with the nuclear family of par-
ents and children. Huge dinners are not a common practice, and
the Dutch normally cook just enough for the people present. In
addition, dinner is normally not more than one hour. After the
meal, family games, especially board games, as well as puzzles,
are very popular in Dutch families. However, once again, it is
normal that each individual decides what he or she wants to do.
Youngsters along with their friends are used to spending
their evenings and nights in pubs and discos. Parents normally
stay home with the younger children. They do not go out to-
gether as families. Finally, although restaurants are gaining in
popularity, the Dutch still don’t visit them as regularly as peo-
ple in many other countries.
Nevertheless, because of their unique background, the Indo
lifestyle is different from both the pure Dutch and the pure In-
donesian. Whether they initially seem characterised by only a
trace of, or seem heavily influenced by the culture of the former
Dutch East Indies, because of being born and spending part of
their lives in Indonesia and having Indonesian blood in their
veins, their habits, traditions and values are Indonesian-influenced.
How much they have been affected, however, depends on sev-
eral factors. The se need to be discussed before getting int o more
detail about how much and in what specific ways Indonesian
culture influences the lifestyle and leisure activities among the
Indos in this study.
First, the influence of their parents during socialisation in
childhood is one of the factors, which plays a big part in their
current lifestyle and habits. Moreover, having lived in pre-In-
donesia during childhood and having Indo and Indonesian
friends throughout their lives has helped determine their habits
and values, as well as their outlook in life. In addition, the bad
experiences of childhood or youth spent in the Japanese camps
and the upheaval of the war of independence in Indonesia (i.e.,
the Bersiap Period) are important factors. Of the 40 respon-
dents, 34 have experienced one or both of these events, which
has had a significant impact on the lifestyle of this generation
of Indos.
This last experience, however, is different from that of both
the Dutch and Indonesians. The independence movement was,
as would be expected, a national movement characterised by
anti-Dutch feelings. Those Indos who stayed in Indonesia were
left with only Indo and Indonesian friends, because most of
their few Dutch friends went home to the Netherlands. This pe-
riod of time was the worst and hardest time for the Indos. Once
again they had to face tragedy in life, which was even harder to
bear than the period spent in Japanese camps. Knowing that the
Indonesians were friendly people before the war, it was hard to
adjust to their changed attitudes. All of a sudden, they were
unfriendly and considered Indos as their enemies, because they
were close to the Dutch. For example, a widower who retired as
a chief ship’s engineer responded to the question: What does
the Bersiap Periodmean to you? As follows:
I could not imagine what was happening, you know. I was
not educated or raised up in thinking politically, so I never knew
that the country where I was living in belonged to somebo dy else.
I thought it belonged to the Dutch. At that time I was 18 years
of age that I could not imagine the hostility. In fact, I was con-
fused about what was going on and what was going to happen
to us. After the war with the Japs”(Japanese), and then faced
with local Indonesians as enemies, it was a difficult time for
everybody, and for children especially.
A retired widow, who was formerly the head secretary of a
metal company said:
It was a very hard and difficult time, because (“Ik heb be-
wust gemakt”(sic)) I became conscious that the Indonesians
changed their behaviour towards the Dutch people and also to-
wards us as Indos. They were enemies at that time. At the be-
ginning they were okay, but later on they became bad towards
us, and the Indonesian revolutionary youth soldiers, the Pelopor
Pemuda also started killing the Japanese people.
In the end the Indos had to choose whether to stay in Indone-
sia as Indonesians or to leave for the Netherlands as Dutch.
Ei ther way, it was really difficult for the m to choose. They loved
Indonesia as their country and at the same time they wanted to
be Dutch. Those who left, such as the subjects of this study, aban-
doned a country which they loved and to start a new, radically
different and very uncertain life in the Netherlands. A married
male, who retired as a controller for the social insurance au-
thorities, was 20 years old when came to the Netherlands with
his family in 1957. He was asked why he came to the Nether-
lands and answered
It was because we had to leave the country. Life in Jakarta
was no longer safe for all of us as Indos who carried Dutch
citizenship. The school was also closed. You k now , it was really
difficult to go from there, but we had to.
He was also asked how he felt when he and his family left
for the Netherlands and why, and he answered as follows:
I felt very bad of course, because I had to leave my whole life,
which I spent in Indonesia, behind, and at the same time I did
not know what to expect in the Netherlands. In spite of what we
learned and heard about the Netherlands, we had never lived in
the country. You know, especially for my father, who had to
search another job straight away, it was very difficult.
Another widow, a former administrative clerk, who came to
the Netherlands in 1949 as a married woman with three chil-
dren, had different reasons for why she and her family had to
leave the East Indies (Indonesia). This widowed woman said:
I left the country because it became more and more difficult
for the family and I to remain in Indonesia. We had to choose
whe th e r t o be warga negare” (Indonesian) or to leave the country.
It was really a hard choice to make for everybody, I guess.
However, because of my education, which was European or Wes-
tern, I chose to leave the country. I also did it for the sake of my
childrens education.
She continued to express her feelings when she was asked
how she felt when she and her family left for the Netherlands.
She explained:
It was very sad and difficult, because I had to leave my
mother and mother in-law behind. We also did not know what
would happen in the Netherlands. I heard that it was a cold
country with a lot of rain. At that time, I thought well, it was
okay for only 10 months, but I did not know that I had to stay
here forever. When you think back, you realise how stupid I
was to think that way.
In answering the research question posed above, it is neces-
sary to compare the leisure activities of childhood to those ac-
tivities pursued by the study population at present to determine
if there is relationship between the past and the present. In ana-
lysing the transition from childhood to adulthood among the
retired Indos in this study, it is very difficult to see any continu-
ity of leisure activities throughout the childhood, adolescent
and adult periods due to war, revolution and immigration. It is
significant to this research in that the absence of normal child-
hood and adolescent development is one of the factors, which
may influence the lifestyle and leisure activities of the retired
Indos in and around The Hague. Nevertheless, the researcher
has been able to analyse their childhood until WW II broke out
In spite of those difficult times during the war, the respon-
dents reported happy childhood and adolescent experiences as
part of their special memories of their early lives in Indonesia.
One of the characteristics of this was high club membership.
Looking at their responses to the question: Were you a member
of a club when you were in adolescence? 67.5% (27 of 40)
indicated membership. Those who did not belong were either
too young or already in Japanese camps.
The most common club activities listed by interviewees were
mostly scouting and student club activities, which were popular
among respondents of both sexes. Sports activities, such as
playing tennis (35%) and soccer (30%) were popular among the
boys who joined athletic clubs. Swimming, badminton, hockey,
yachting and rowing were also pursued by boys and girls on an
individual basis. There were 17 respondents (42.5%) who par-
ticipated in scouting (N = 13) and organised student club activi-
ties (N = 4), split almost down the middle, with one more female
than male. The explanatory factor for such high membership in
the scouts is the fact that the scouting programs were related to
the church (since most Indos are Christian) or school. Thus, they
were relatively inexpensive to join and participate in activities.
Another reason is that there were not many organised activities
at that time. Most of their friends joined the scouts, and these
groups provided opportunities to meet other people. The fol-
lowing are some responses when the interviewees were asked
whether they were members of a club during their youth, why
and what kind of club. One widower, who was a retired com-
munications officer for the municipality of The Hague, said:
Yes, I joined the boy scouts some time ago, so that I could get
together with other kids. Another reason was that because I had
no money to join other clubs and very little money to spend for
their activities, the scouts were good (because joining was free).
At that time, we did not have much money, and to join a club
was out of the question for me.
A widow, who was a retired director of a foundation, said:
Yes, I joined the scouts, a student club and other kinds of
clubs, such as a dancing club and a sports club. I joined the
clubs because of their activities and to meet other kids.
A married male, who was a government employee of the Mi-
nistry of Education, said:
Yes, I joined a Catholic youth club. It was actually the boy
scouts. You know, I joined the scouts because the Priest asked
me to be the leader of the group.
Finally, a married female, who had been a high school tea-
cher, said:
Yes, I was a member of the scouts and a swimming club. I
joined the clubs because I liked to organise scouting activities,
and, of course, I liked the sport.
However, when the respondents were asked several questions,
which related to their leisure activities in adulthood in the Ne-
therlands before retirement, their answers showed a less par-
ticipatory pattern. The questions of interest here are: 1) What
kinds of activities did you do when you were not at work? 2)
What ty pe of acti vi ty di d you c onsi de r lei sure? The responses to
those questions have shown that there is a break with childhood
and adolescence in that Indo adults in the Netherlands partici-
pate far less in formally organised activities. A widowed former
high-ranking police officer (police commissioner) was asked
what kinds of activities he did when he was not at work. He
responded as follows:
I did sports such as tennis and football. I travelled with my
family to see other European countries, visiting friends and
family, went to the cinema. My wife and I often went to parties
and out dancing.
He also mentioned the types of activities that he considered
as leisure during his adulthood before reti r e m e nt a s foll o w s:
I considered sports as part of my leisure, and sight seeing by
driving around weekends was also leisure. Reading and listen-
ing to music, particularly country music, was leisure too.
A few relevant questions were also posed regarding activities
after retirement to see whether there would be a continuation of
their adult leisure activities into old age. These questions are: 1)
How do you fill your time daily? 2) What kinds of activities do
you do for leisure?
It was found that, indeed, adult activities continue to a certain
extent into retirement. Social and family oriented activities such
as visiting friends (55%), going dancing (30%), helping other
people (35%), going shopping (45%), looking after grandchil-
dren (22.5%), visiting family (30.8%), playing cards (17.5%)
and cooking (22.5%) are the major leisure activities of Indo
adults in The Hague and its surroundings, and they remain an
important part of life among the retired Indos in this study.
The retired police commissioner, for example, said:
These are basically what I do to fill my time daily: I take my
time to do things, and I do a lot of walking, reading, and lis-
tening to music. I am very lucky that I have a lady who comes
to do household work and cooking for me, so I dont have to
worry about it.
He continued:
I think leisure activities for me now are travelling, reading,
walking, listening to music, and watching television sometimes.
In contrast, participation in those activities related to physical
movement, such as tennis, badminton, swimming, soccer and
rowing, which began in y outh and continued to some extent into
adulthood, has declined and in some cases even ended. While
some physical activities among retired Indos, especially tennis
(20%) and swimming (7.5%), are still pursued to a certain ex-
tent by mostly male Indos, most sports have been replaced by
other forms of physical exercise, such as walking (37.5%; mostly
men) to keep healthy.
Moreover, married man and married women among the re-
tired Indos in this sample display a somewhat more active lei-
sure lifestyle than their single contemporaries. While the single
wo men interviewe d in this study na med visiting friends, watchin g
TV and reading as their most significant leisure activities, mar-
ried women were much more likely to go out to parties, go dancing
and travel. Analogous to the women, among single men, read-
ing walking and visiting friends were the most frequent leisure
activities, while among married men, partying, dancing and trav-
elling were also important. For example, a widower, who re-
tired as a construction company engineer, when asked what his
current leisure consists of, said:
I visit friends. Also, my leisure is reading, gardening and
watching television, but not much, say 1 to 2 hours, which is mostly
news and sports.
The same question was asked of a married, former explora-
tion geologist. He responded:
Now that I am retired, almost everything I do is for leisure.
For example, I get up late, read a lot, do puzzles, and have nice
food with family or friends, because my wife is a good cook.
Also, I play tennis twice a week, and I do a lot of walking for
my physical exercise.
When he was asked what types of activities he did with his
wife and why, he answered:
Well, we play tennis together now, since my wife has been
taking lessons. It is nice! We go out with the family or some-
times just ourselves to the beach. We visit friends and we go out
for movies and to restaurants regularly. You know, there are a
lot parties among our Indo friends, so we go to parties and
what we like to do is to go to a mountain resort and travel to
Asia to visit our friends and to see the countries. Maybe this is
because we lived in Singapore, Indonesia and visited other
countries for my work in the past.
Of course, with ageing, sedentary leisure activities have also
developed among retired Indos. Watching television (42.5%) is
one example, but this is characteristic more of single and mar-
ried women than among single or married men. Reading is the
single most popular leisure activity among the retired Indo,
comprising 27 out of 40 respondents (67.5%) in this study. The
next common leisure activity is visiting friends as a social ac-
tivity (55%). A gathering with food is one of the most important
social occasions within the Indo community. Indos like getting
together to make a pleasant evening. With their hospitality and
warm feelings of welcome extended to visitors to their homes,
Dutch Indos are quite different from the Dutch in general. This
custom comes from the Asian side of their family histories.
Nevertheless, while the general pattern of high participation
in sedentary-social and sedentary-isolate activities in old age,
coupled with a decline in pursuing active-social (i.e., physical
activities such as sports) may be characteristic of most adults in
later life (Leitner & Leitner, op. cit.), regardless of their cul-
ture, the respondents accept their increasing confinement to
their homes more easily than most Dutch. The reason for this is
the fact that their close family bonds mean that a large portion
of their leisure has been spent receiving visits from their fami-
lies and relations, or visiting them, throughout their lives. Thus,
they simply receive more visits than they make as they age. This
aspect of their culture plays a positive role in enabling ageing
Indos to adjust to decreasing mobility.
After analysing the retired Indos’ leisure that to some extent
culture influences their leisure activities, especially in relation
to social life. Particularly in old age the social aspects of leisure
become extremely important in life, because retired Indos have
more time to socialise. Moreover, the circumstances of ageing,
such as being in poor health, having limited mobility and not
being able to drive make them feel the importance of social life
even more. The fear of being isolated is very strong, due to the
importance placed on the extended family and social life in
Eastern cultures.
Leisure as Social Life
Leisure activity can be considered a tool for an individual to
achieve his or her goals in life, and the researcher believes that
deriving satisfaction from one’s leisure will lead to a better and
happier life. If there is no leisure in one’s life, there is only
work, but working continuously is impossible. Any living en-
tity needs food, water to drink and rest from the physical and
mental wear and tear of living, so this time away from work is
crucial to recharging one’s batteries, so to speak. During peri-
ods of rest, a person can do whatever he or she wants. This
freedom of choice defines an activity, which is conducted then
as “leisure”. The meaning of leisure itself is quite broad and
depends on one’s own opinion and feelings, which are very
often difficult for a person to define. Consequently, it is not the
purpose of this chapter to define leisure in any narrow sense.
Instead, the researcher utilises the word in this study as having
a wide and flexible meaning according to the individual per-
spectives of the subjects interviewed.
There are many reasons for pursuing any particular leisure
activity for an individual, and the choice depends very much on
personal preference, which is tied to the personal background,
habits, culture and social sphere of the individual. Having said
this, however, for the purposes of the analysis in this study, it is
necessary to review several reasons for pursuing a leisure activ-
ity in general in relation to the retired Indos as the subjects of
the study. These are: 1) leisure as a psychological factor in
achieving a happy and satisfied life; 2) leisure as social life; and
3) leisure for a healthy life. The first purpose of leisure has
been and will continue to be mentioned in general discussion
throughout this thesis; while the second is the focus of this
section, and the third will be analysed in the following section.
It is necessary to look at the relevant research questions to be
able to elaborate the issue: 1) Do the retired Indos feel closer to
the Indonesian way of life or to the Dutch lifestyle in pursuing
their leisure activities? 2) What kinds of people do the Indos
mix with, and who are their best friends? 3) What kinds of lei-
sure activities do they pursue in general? In order to analyse
the retired Indos’ way of life, it is first necessary to look at the
answers to the research questions mentioned above as they have
become clear through the conduct of interviews with the forty
The first important interview question related to these re-
search questions considers how they felt when they and their
families left for the Netherlands. Their answers vary according
to their feelings about and abilities to cope with the terrifying
experiences of the Indonesian independence upheaval. One of
the respondents who is single and retired as administrative clerk
from the Ministry of Justice in The Hague was asked how he
felt when he and his family left for the Netherlands. He said:
I was 18 years old when I left Indonesia, and it was in 1955.
I felt so sad and even more when we arrived in the Netherlands.
I cried and was upset. I wanted to go back to Indonesia at that
time. We arrived in winter, so you can imagine it. It was cold, and
there was no sun. The whole situation really made me upset.
The next response is from a widow who dedicated herself to
the family as a homemaker. She expressed her feelings as:
You know, I was glad that I was able to go to the Nether-
lands. It was difficult to be Dutch during the period after the
war and especially was hard for my husband who was Indo and
had fair skin and hair. We could not buy anything and food was
difficult to get. Everything was chaos and it was a hard time I
had to say.
The Table 8 below summarises the feelings that were experi-
enced b y th e r espond ents wh en t hey lef t In dones ia p erman en tly.
The reasons why they felt 1) happy and glad; 2) sad and bad;
or 3) experienced mixed feelings, which were expressed by the
respondents during the interviews, have been classified into
groups of similar responses. Those people who felt happy and
glad to leave for the Netherlands had as their reasons the cir-
cumstances that reigned in Indonesia at that time. The situation
in Indonesia was very chaotic after WW II. The Dutch East
Indies had been occupied by the Japanese; and when the colony
reverted to the Netherlands, the indigenous Indonesians began
to rise up against their rulers. They wanted the country for
themselves. Everything was in chaos, and the rule of law de-
generated. There was no effective government to control the
country; and the public institutions, such as schools, churches,
etc., were closed. It was difficult to get food, and the overall
situation was deteriorating rapidly. The anti-Dutch movement
increased in size and intensity, and fighting broke out every-
where. The safety of the Dutch and of those friendly with the
Dutch was jeopardised. Being Indo was very difficult, because
of their mixed background. While they were considered Dutch
because one parent was Dutch or partly Dutch, they were si-
multaneously close to the Indonesian way of life. Because of
Table 8.
Respondent feelings upon leaving Indonesia.
Female Single
Male Married
Female Married
Male Total
Happy & G l ad3 3 3 1 10
Sad & Bad 7 5 5 6 23
Mixed Feelings0 2 2 3 7
Total 10 10 10 10 40
these circumstances, some of the respondents felt safe, free, and
glad to be able to get away from Indonesia at that time.
Those who felt sad and bad to leave Indonesia cited personal
reasons. They had to leave behind an Indonesian mother, grand-
mother or friends, as well as their property and belongings.
Most of them also had strong feelings for Indonesia and its
people. It was their own country, and it was part of their lives.
Those respondents who had mixed feelings when they left
Indonesia were sorry to leave their birthplace behind but wanted
to improve their lives. They felt relieved that they were still
alive after all the tragedy they had experienced, but they none-
theless felt sad to leave Indonesia, which they loved, behin d.
Looking at the majority of the respondents’ answers, their
feeling of sadness regarding leaving Indonesia is an indication
that they had strong feelings towards the country. While this
feeling may have faded slightly, deep down, it is still there for
most of them.
To strengthen the impression gained from their answers to
the previous question, the interviewees were asked: Do you still
consider yourself part of Indonesia? The answers strongly con-
firm the findings of closeness to Indonesia among Indo retirees.
Answering yes to this question were 77.5% or 31 out of 40
respondents, while only 20% (8 of 40) answered no. Only a
single respondent, representing 2.5% of those interviewed, had
mixed feelings. Looking at the majority answer indicating that
Indos in The Hague and its surroundings still feel close to In-
donesia, the next question to pose is why? All of them answer
that it is because their roots are there, and they still have Indo-
nesian social habits, moral values and ways of acting within
their families. Thus, a strong feeling towards Indonesia can be
an indication that a respondent’s way of life still has traces of
Eastern values in the home, and has not been completely assi-
milated into the Dutch culture. For example, a widow who re-
tired as a teacher explained:
Oh yes, definitely, I am still part of Indonesia, because an
important part of my life was spent in Indonesia. You know,
some of my roots are Indonesian, and it will always be so.
There are other indicators that Indos have a mixed culture of
Western and Eastern values. For example, when they were asked
what kinds of dances did you learn in your adolescence and
why, it was not surprising that 38 respondents or 95% said that
they had learned Western dances such as ballroom dances and
modern dances. One respondent said he had learned Indonesian
traditional martial arts dance (pencak silat), and 1 respondent
answered none. There were also 2 female respondents who
learned both Indonesian traditional dance and Western dances.
The reasons they learned ballroom dances or modern dances
were that they formed a part of their education and were also a
must thing to do socially in those days. In this sense, learning
western dances was just like learning how to play the piano; it
was done to demonstrate that one belonged to a certain level of
status. Of all 40 respondents, 17% or 42.5% played musical in-
struments. Of these 17%, 10% or 58.8% learned to play the
piano. The other instruments played included the guitar, played
by 5 respondents; the harmonica, played by 4; the drum by 3;
the ukulele by 2; and the bongo and bass by 1 each. In addition,
3 out of 40 respondents learned how to play a traditional Indo-
nesian instrument (suling). Some of the respondents still play
their instruments as a social activity with their Indo friends and
at least 3 play in small bands as a hobby.
An important question then arises: who are their friends most
often? Their responses show that they had mostly a mixture of
friends, but with only a few pure Dutch and pure Indonesian
friends during childhood, and that this has continued into ado-
lescence and adulthood. Moreover, this pattern has lasted into
retirement. Of the 40 subjects in the study, 87.5% (35 out of 40)
declared that they have a mixture of friends, and 5 of the re-
spondents said that they have Indo friends only. Most of the re-
spondents who have mixed friends said that they have more
Indo friends than Dutch or Indonesian friends. A retired chief
administrator from the Ministry of Education was asked if most
of his friends are Dutch, Indo, Indonesian or mixed. He said:
Well, I have mixed friends. However, most of them are Indos.
Interviewer: Are they new friends or old ones?
Respondent: They are old friends. Most of them I know from
before the War when we were in the East Indies.
A married man who worked as social insurance controller
was asked the same question and claimed:
I have mixed friends, but I must admit that my best friends
are mostly Indos. They are both old and new friends. I know
most of my old friends for more than 20 years and the new ones
for several years.
The most common leisure activities among the retired Indos
in The Hague and its surroundings were mentioned in the pre-
vious section. Vi siting friends as a social activity comprises 55%
of the respondents’ leisure. The other leisure activities, which
are pursued by the respondents as part of their social lives, are
visiting family (30.8%), going dancing (30%), playing cards
(17.5%) and helping others (17.5%). Generally speaking, after
interviewing them, the researcher formed the impression that
most of the retired Indo people in this study like parties; that is,
getting together with friends to eat and chat as part of social life.
They like to hear music, to dance and to have a good time with
their friends.
Leisure for a Healthy Life
The research questions relating to the respondents’ reasons
for pursuing leisure for their health are not specific. Rather,
their reasons for answering the general questions about why
they pursue their leisure activities in general have been ana-
lysed for this purpose, as have their feelings towards the active-
ties themselves. For example, the researcher asked the respon-
dents, Why do you do these activities? The answers that were
given were then grouped according to their connotations. The
answers do not add up to 40, because some interviewees had
more than one reason:
1) They pursue leisure to fill their empty time with activities
(N = 17);
2) They are involved because they have plenty of time now
to do the activities that they had always wanted to do in the past
(N = 8);
3) They find that the activities give them pleasure and/or help
them relax (N = 19);
4) They pursue the activities in order to make social contact
with others so that they don’t feel lonely (N = 4); and
5) They do the leisure activities for their health; that is to
keep in shape, stay active and stave off depression from being
old (N = 24).
It is obvious from the pattern of answers that the respondents
clearly see the value of leisure to their physical and mental
health. The answers that fall in category 5, given by the greatest
number of respondents (i.e., 24% of 40% or 60%), explicitly
recognise the health value of leisure activities. In addition,
those answers falling into categories 1 and 4, 17 and 4 respec-
tively, or a total of 21% or 52.5% of respondents implicitly
recognise the health benefits of leisure.
The next question posed to the respondents was: Are you
satisfied with your current leisure activities? Give the reason
why? It is important to know how satisfied the retired Indos are
in pursuing the leisure activities at the present time and why,
because the results should confirm that the health benefits of
leisure expected by the respondents have in fact been realised.
The results show that 80.5% (34 out of 40) are satisfied with
their current leisure activities, while only 6 of them are not.
Those who are satisfied in pursuing their leisure activities have
demonstrated that they are enjoying the retirement. They are
happy to have more time to enjoy family life and doing things
with their friends (6 of 34), and to do things that they could not
do before retiring (N = 3). In addition, they feel that they have
plenty of enjoyab le a ctivities (N = 25).
To illustrate, a widower who retired as cost estimator for a
construction company was asked several questions as follows:
Interviewer: What kinds of activities do you do for leisure
during your retirement?
Respondent: My leisure activities are swimming, tennis, vis-
iting family and friends, reading, playing cards (bridge), and
going on vacation.
Interviewer: Why do you do these activities?
Respondent: Well, because I have more time now and also to
keep fit. Sometimes I wish I had more time for all the activities I
Interviewer: Are you satisfied with your current leisure ac-
Respondent: Yes .
Interviewer: Please, tell me why.
Respondent: It is because I feel better and happy with the
additional time that I have had since I retired. I can use it for
doing things, which I like. I am also happy because I remain
It seems, then, that most of the retired Indos in this case
study have a sufficient number and quality of activities and fol-
low an active social life, with their family and friends as the
centre of attention. However, it is important to mention here
that the existence of an excellent state pension and retirement
plan in the Netherlands makes it possible for the average retired
person to live comfortably. The elderly, by and large, are not
threatened by poverty. Moreover, the Dutch public transport
system is well connected and runs almost everywhere, so that
retired people can do things easily by using buses, trams and
trains. They are, therefore, not bound to their houses.
For those respondents who are not satisfied with their leisure
activities, several health-related reasons stand out. A few of
them have physical problems that limit them from doing what
they want to do in their leisure time, while others feel depressed
from having not having enough productive things to do. Some
suffer from depression in retirement because they miss their
late spouses or their old friends in Asia. One single female re-
spondent, who retired as a secretary, when asked whether she
was satisfied with her current leisure activities said:
No, I am not satisfied. You know in a way I am handicapped
because of my health condition, which prevents me from doing
things. I like to go everywhere and do some sport activities, but
I can not do them any more.
The results presented in this section, however, show that the
retired Indos of The Hague and its surroundings are, generally
speaking, happy and satisfied with their leisure activities. They
enjoy their retirement, and recognise that physical and mental
health contributes to it.
A Typology of Indo Leisure Lifestyles
What emerges from this analysis of the leisure of the retired
Indos of The Hague and its surroundings is a typology of lei-
sure styles. A typology is a classification system, that is, a way
of organising ideas. It is not the only one, but it seems appro-
priate here. In a typology, a researcher combines two or more
uni-dimensional, simple concepts or ideas, and the intersection
of the simple concepts or ideas forms a new way of examining
a topic.
For the purpose of this research, a typology of leisure life-
styles for retired Indos is appropriate in understanding what has
been reviewed so far. One might suppose that there are three
such leisure lifestyles exhibited by those retirees studied here;
that is, Indonesian, Dutch and Indo leisure lifestyles. One might
further assume that they could be characterised by some or all
of the following simple elements and concepts: 1) social
roles—concept of family, role of extended family, strength of
family bonds, importance of using the proper form of address,
respect for older persons, value placed on helping each other
and the value of hospitality; 2) personal habits—language spo-
ken among the group, Asian or European manners, importance
of modesty, type of food consumed at home, method of bathing,
and toilet habits; and 3) leisure activities—movie-going, lis-
tening to music, social dancing, party-going, eating together
and visiting friends and family.
One could also suppose that men and women, as well as sin-
gle people and married ones, would have different leisure life-
styles. To some extent, that appears to be true among the retired
Indos of The Hague and its surroundings. Although both men
and women are club members (or not), men participate more in
sports (e.g., badminton and tennis) and other outdoor activities
(e.g., walking, cycling and gardening) than women, while wo-
men are more involved in indoor pursuits such as socialising
with friends and playing cards. Couples also are more likely to
go on trips, to go out to dinner, dancing or a party and to par-
ticipate in more group-related social activities of the Indo social
clubs than single Indos.
Moreover, it might be assumed that with a strong Eastern
cultural component, that the male member of a couple would
dominate in the choice of leisure. However, this does not ap-
pear to be the case. Both men and women seem to be the domi-
nant or subservient partner depending on the particular couple.
Thus, the research undertaken here has yielded a somewhat
different picture than the assumed Indonesian, Dutch and Indo
leisure lifestyle split one might expect. The key factor seems to
be the degree of integration into Dutch society. The first two
groups of elements and concepts outlined above (i.e., social
roles and personal habits) are merely manifestations of this
integration, which the respondents have verbalised through their
views on how they identify themselves (Table 2), how they
characterise Indo culture (Table 3), how close they feel to In-
donesia (Table 4), the importance of Indo values and habits to
them (Table 5), and the aspects of Indonesia missed by them
(Table 7).
What these and other feelings of self identity expressed by
the respondents indicate is that it is more meaningful to classify
the population of this research into a typology of two rather
than three groups with regard to their leisure lifestyles. These
groups can be characterised as Traditional Indo and Indo-Eu-
ropean Dutch. The first group remains more classically Indo in
self-concept (Indo), social roles (strong family bonds) and per-
sonal habits (Eastern toilet habits), while the second group of
individuals feels both Indo and Dutch, and this is apparent by
its way of life. Thus, the second group has a mixed Indo and
Dutch self-concept, Indo social roles (strong family ties) and
some additional Dutch personal habits (e.g., Western toilet ha-
bits). The styles of leisure of the sample studied here seem to
exhibit this dichotomy as well. The first group is somewhat
more bound to family and old, exclusively Indo friends than the
second, which is more likely to meet new people in Indo clubs
and partake in more Dutch-style leisure activities (e.g., attend-
ing the theatre) with their Indo friends. Of the 40 respondents in
this study, 20 were clearly Traditional Indo, while 18 were Indo-
European Dutch. The remaining two were in neither group
completely, but could be better considered as members of the
latter group who were the closest to being either Dutch (N = 1)
or international (N = 1) with respect to their leisure lifestyles.
The typology outlined in this Section is summarised in Table 9
There is no indication given by any of those retirees inter-
viewed that they exhibit a totally Indonesian leisure lifestyle.
This is to be expected, since they were never Indonesian, but
were always considered as a distinct and separate group in the
Dutch East Indies. There is, however, also no indication that
any of the respondents are completely assimilated and now
pursue a totally Dutch lifestyle, including its leisure, although
two do seem to lean somewhat more in this direction.
What the analysis presented in this section and the typology
summarised in Table 9 show is that there is definitely a unique
Indo lifestyle among the retirees studied here. The respondents
in this study have clearly been influenced by both Western and
Eastern culture in their habits, way of life and preferences for
leisure activities. The Eastern, predominantly Indonesian, cul-
ture influences their leisure activities in that social life plays a
critically important role. Getting together with friends and fa-
milies, having a meal together in a small gathering or big party
with dancing, etc. are primary leisure activities among them. In
addition, the respondents have expressed that they are satisfied
with their leisure activities, and generally enjoy very active
retirement. As a result they pursue leisure activities which en-
able them to be healthy in both body and mind.
Nevertheless, with 36 of the 40 respondents feeling close to
Indonesia but nonetheless wanting to remain in the Netherlands,
it seems that the older they get, the closer they feel to the cul-
ture of their birthplace. This is possibly why they spend more
time with other Indos than with the Dutch. At the same time,
while there is a different weight given to the various elements
of this leisure by members of the two different leisure lifestyle
groups, this is really only a matter of degree. The leisure life-
styles of the interviewees remain remarkably similar, despite
the variations observed.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Introductory Comments
This chapter first summarises the conclusions drawn from the
findings of the research (Section 5.2.). It then outlines recom-
mendations for policy makers derived from them, and, finally,
suggests directions for further research that would provide ad-
ditional information in order to make Indo retirement in the Ne-
therlands a more satisfying experience (Section 5.3.). It should
be noted here, as well, that the lessons learned from this re-
search might be useful in considering how to meet better the
leisure needs of retirees from other minority groups in both the
Netherlands and in other Western European countries.
Table 9.
Typology of Indo leisure lif es t yl e s .
Traditional Indo Indo-European Dutch
Social Roles
Family concept Very strong Strong
Role of extended family Very importa nt Important
Strength of family bonds Very strong Strong
Proper form of address Very import ant Important
Respect for elders Very import ant Very import ant
Value of mutual help Very import ant Important
Value of hospitality Very importa nt Very important
Personal Habits
Language o f g roup Dutch & Indonesian Dutch & Indonesian
Manners Eastern Eastern & We stern
Importance of modesty Very important Important
Type of food at home More Indonesian More Dutch
Method of bathing Eastern Western
Toilet habits Eastern Western
Leisure Activities
Movie-going Yes Yes
Theatre-going No Yes
Music listened to Eastern & Western Eastern & W estern
Social dancing Often Sometimes
Party-going Often Sometimes
Eating together Very important Important
Visiting friends & family Very importa nt Important
This section summarises the conclusions drawn from the re-
search. Detailed, in-depth interviews were conducted with forty
retired Indos, all of whom live in The Hague and its surround-
ings. A nu mber of supplementar y interviews were also held with
social workers, administrators and academic experts. All inter-
views were conducted between April and July 1998 as the pri-
mary research methodology for evaluating the leisure active-ties
and lifestyle among retired members of this ethnic minority.
The basic research concern was to explore the leisure of the res-
pondents to see if their activities met their needs so that they
were satisfied with life as Indo retirees residing in the Nether-
lands. The interviews generated data that addressed the research
questions of Section 1 and which were analysed in Sections 3
and 4.
To reiterate for the purposes of this final section, the four
specific objectives of this study were:
To determine to what extent retiring and ageing Indo-Euro-
peans or Indos have been exposed to Indonesian culture
both before and after immigration to the Netherlands;
To identify how deeply childhood experience in Indonesia
has influenced their way of life and leisure activities in the
To measure to what extent these Indos participate in leisure
activities, which pertain to their cultural or ethnic Indone-
sian heritage in their free time; and
To evaluate how leisure activities can help the Indos in the
Netherlands retain their original Indo culture, thereby ena-
bling them to be comfortable in their new culture (i.e., Dutch
culture) during retirement and ensuring satisfaction with life.
The discussion in this final section, then, focuses on relating
the research results and findings to these specific research ob-
jectives in order to determine some possible recommendations
and suggestions for leisure programme developers and for re-
searchers who might undertake further study on this subject.
Briefly, the general conclusions of the research are as fol-
Culture has influenced to an important extent the leisure
and social lives of the respondents;
The respondents’ social lives, which reflect Indo habits, va-
lues and preferences, have become primary leisure activities
among the respondents;
Married retired Indos have more active social lives than
either single men or single women, but single men are more
active than single women;
The respondents pursue active retirements, which they en-
joy and fill with various leisure activities, enabling them to
maintain generally healthy and satisfied lives during retire-
Clubs play, to a certain extent, a significant role among the
respondents who are members. The clubs are important in
their social lives as a place to meet other Indos, engage in
leisure activities together and help to preserve the Indo cul-
ture through the organised cultural events, which take place
Family and friends, who are mostly Indo, play the most im-
portant role in social life and leisure;
Current leisure facilities, provided by the local municipality,
are generally used by all local citizens as part of their gen-
eral leisure and recreation;
There are not many leisure facilities in the communities
where the respondents live that can provide even occasion-
ally programmes which relate to the Indo people;
The respondents are considered by most Dutch to be well
integrated into their society. Some would probably also con-
sider many to be assimilated if they did not know them well.
However, the interviews conducted by this study present a
picture of only partial integration and no assimilation at all
among the members of this generation;
The Indo culture, along with its habits, norms, and values
are evident everywhere in the lives of those interviewed,
and it is important to the respondents that they remain ele-
ments in their family lives; and
This study on retired Indos in the area of The Hague seems
to confirm the activity theory of ageing, which assumes that
continuous social involvement is the way people adapt suc-
cessfully to ageing. It also supports the continuity hypothe-
sis, which suggests that there is a positive relationship be-
tween aged persons’ contentment with their life situation
and the similarity between their lifestyles in middle adult-
hood and in old age. Voges and Pongratz (1988) refer to
this as the continuation of a familiar lifestyle.
The recommendations of this research can be divided into
two categories. The first considers the policy and programme
implications of the work, and the second suggests future fruitful
research that could be conducted to shed more light on the sub-
ject. Discussion of both follows.
Policy and Programme Recommendations
It has not been the intent of this study to formulate detailed
leisure programmes for the retired Indos of The Hague, but
rather to understand existing leisure activities as an expression
of Indo culture, and to determine, in a general way, if and how
they lead to healthy retirement. Clearly, this sample is content,
but there are improvements to be made. Consequently, the fol-
lowing general recommendations are intended for those respon-
sible for developing leisure programmes for retired Indos. They
are based upon or related to the findings of the 40 direct inter-
views of retired Indos in The Hague and its surroundings con-
ducted in this study, and on the conclusions drawn from them.
Obviously, they are relevant to retired Indos elsewhere in the
Netherlands, and leisure planners might consider how the les-
sons learned from this research might be applied to considering
other minority groups in the country. The Turkish and Moroc-
can communities come immediately to min d.
The policy and programme recommendations of this study,
then, are listed below:
It is necessary to consider Indo cultural content for any lei-
sure programme or its component activities for ageing or
retired Indos due to the overwhelming importance of Indo
culture to the mix of various leisure activities of the re-
spondents in this study. Moreover, this should be the case
for any group of minority retirees. Any programme or acti-
vity should relate specifically to the culture, habits, norms
and values of the particular people for whom the program-
me is targeted.
A complete leisure programme of activities for Indos or any
other minority group should include a meaningful array of
cultural events that can connect the specific ethnic group to
its past and bring its members closer to their own culture.
This should be done even though the retirees are already in-
tegrated into (or appear to be integrated into) Dutch (or any
host) society. Through leisure, culture can be maintained
and preserved.
More leisure activity, which is related to the culture of the
Indos and other major minority groups in the Netherlands,
aged or otherwise, should be scheduled as part of the leisure
programmes at the existing local facilities such as a com-
munity “soos” (club). By providing different types of pro-
grams for the local community, leisure would provide the
local citizens with various choices to satisfy their needs and
interests. In the case of Indo culture, the leisure organisers
would give an opportunity to the local, ethnic Dutch people
to learn about the culture of another people who reside in
their country, as well as about an important part of their own
history. A strong parallel can be made here between Indo-
nesia with the Netherlands and Algeria with France or Mo-
zambique with Portugal. All the former were major colonies
that were considered, rather, as integral parts of the corre-
sponding European states. All three colonies became inde-
pendent after wars of libe ration, and all three European states
had a large number of repatrianten. With this level of im-
portance tied to Indo culture, some locally based cultural
events would show how important the minority subculture
is to the dominant one. Thus, eventually Indo culture could
be integrated into the local society as part of the rich culture
and history of the Netherlands. Indos could eventually be
viewed just like other Dutch people who come from the va-
rious regions of the country and have different cultures, ha-
bits, norms and values.
An Indische Bejaarden Huis (Indo Home for the Aged) in
The Hague is a necessity, especially as the Indo retirees
continue to age. It is rather remarkable that one does not
exist, considering the size of The Hague itself and the large
Indo population living in the city and its surroundings. The
existence of an Indo Home for the Aged would expand the
possible choices of accommodation for retired and elderly
Indos. Considering the ageing of this generation and the
adoption of smaller family sizes and dwelling units among
second and third generation Indos, at some point Indo retir-
ees will form a large group of elderly in need of assisted
living with an Indo cultural content. There is as yet no such
institution in the city. As is indicated by the results of the
interviews with the retired Indos of this study, it is evident
that much of the retired Indo community in The Hague and
its surroundings is still strongly connected to its own culture,
norms and values as part of the daily routine. Without this
cultural content, the Indo elderly do not feel comfortable. It
is clear that the retired Indos in this study like being to-
gether with their Indo friends for the purpose of the leisure.
A home will enable them to be together with other elderly
Indos and feel comfortable within an Indo way of living as
part of their home service. In addition, leisure activities with
Indo cultural content would be more easily implemented
through cultural events that could be scheduled on a regular
basis. Thus, the Indo people will feel happy, comfortable
and satisfied during their remaining days.
In order to be effective, all of the above suggestions should
be incorporated into a set of policy guidelines for recrea-
tional and social services within the city of The Hague and
its surrounding municipalities, as well as, where appropriate,
for the local community recreation centres. It is particularly
important for the government of the Netherlands, working
with the city and the surrounding municipalities, to develop
a programme supporting the local Indo clubs, organisations
an d foundations that try to keep the Indo culture alive throug h
their various programmes.
Recommendations for Further Research
There are a number of useful directions that future research
could take. Those that are recommended include:
An effort to refine, elaborate and test the dichotomous ty-
pology of Indo leisure lifestyles suggested in Section 4. The
first (or immigrant) generation Indo individuals of this study
overwhelmingly have a leisure lifestyle that has been char-
acterised as either Traditional Indo or Indo-European Dutch,
in comparison to both Dutch and Indonesian ones. A ques-
tion for further empirical study, then, is to determine if this
remains the case among second and third generation Indos
living in the Netherlands. One could hy pothesise that in suc-
ceeding generations, even if the leisure lifestyle remains
heavily Indo for a period, that the Traditional Indo leisure
lifestyle would gradually lose its appeal to the Indo-Euro-
pean Dutch one. Eventually, if it is assumed that the Indo
population would become fully assimilated into Dutch life
(which is by no means certain), it is to be expected that this
ethnic group’s leisure lifestyle would become largely, if not
completely, Dutch.
The implementation of a much larger quantitative study of
retired Indos covering all of the Netherlands to confirm this
study’s qualitative findings for The Hague and its sur-
The undertaking of a similar qualitative study of other sig-
nificant non-Dutch ethnic groups (i.e., Turks, Moroccans,
Surinamese—both Black and ethnic South Asian (Hindu-
stani in Dutch) and Caribbean Islanders) in the Nether-
lands. The purposes would be 1) to refine the methodology
employed here and 2) to determine if the same general con-
clusions and recommendations that emerged in this thesis
could be generalised to those groups. If so, only specific,
ethnic-group related findings would be different. This would
have important implications for social policy in the Nether-
lands with regard to the ethnic elderly.
The carrying out of a similar, but comparative, qualitative
study of the Turks in Germany, the North Africans in France
and the South Asians in Great Britain, to confirm that the
fi n dings of this research would a lso be the case in other West-
ern European countries. This could have important implica-
tions both for these countries and for overall European Un-
ion social policy on ageing ethnic minorities. Even Italy and
the Nordic countries are experiencing rapid Third World
immigration, and all these groups will age in time.
Only if all four of the above studies are carried out can it be
ascertained if there is a lasting contribution to the science of
the leisure of the elderly that has been made by this research.
Once these studies are completed, broad inferences could be
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