Well it’s been a while since we have posted on the blog as we have both been back in Melbourne, bringing with us, my sweety sayang for his first trip to Australia where he marveled at the empty streets, the wide open spaces, ticket machines, big houses and the lack of availability of Indonesian cigarettes and places to smoke and the fact that EVERYTHING is so expensive in Australia and yet, people still seem to have money to buy houses and cars and Ipads. It’s a mystery.
But now we are back in the madness of Jakarta talking macet again, getting blasted with the toxic fumes of bajajs and the dreaded kopaja buses, cruising around on ojeks and at last my sayang can get back to the Indonesian diet of rice 3 times a day (the rice salad just wasn’t cutting it for him in Australia). We are back in the land where it is possible to smoke in any location (except around bules), it’s possible to have everything delivered and of course it’s possible to walk for 2 minutes and have an abundance of food at your disposal. And it’s cheap. And delicious.
As the years pass living in this city, what was strange before becomes more normal. It’s more normal to see rats running around your street and around the warung where you are enjoying a meal. It’s normal to call out to a waiter even if he is in the middle of something or to call out your order for soto betawi as soon as you enter (“just meat please. No innards”) and it’s more normal that they will remember your order as soon as you enter even if you haven’t been there in months. It’s more normal to have people calling out “hey bule” as you walk past. It’s more normal for people to start laughing as you walk away (as you know that one of them probably just tried to say something in English). And it is great to be back. It’s a beautiful time of year right now with constant rain and cooler evenings.
As I ride to work through the jalan tikus (little streets) that run through the small kampungs and everyone calls out hello and smiles at me, or past the old men who always play tennis in the mornings and they ask me to join them, I feel a little ball of contentment in the pit of my stomach.
Other times I long for the order that fills Australian life and my expectations – when people push me to get in front of me, when motorbikes are on the wrong side of the road and I forget to look 5 ways before crossing the road or the metro minis race to pick up passengers nearly toppling the pedestrians on the side of the road, or I narrowly miss falling into a pot hole, every day a new near death experience – but I guess these are the times, strangely, when we feel the most alive and the numbness that threatens the western consciousness is pushed aside.
Anyway, it’s great to be back in the madness of Jakarta. Welcome to a new year. The Year of the Dragon. Bring on the happiness and success of this auspicious year.