The seventh – month speech

The number of trips I made to the apartment – management office today to resolve a trivial issue makes me want to avoid anything related to typing / computers altogether, but then two things happened:

– I realised that today I complete exactly 7 months here at my apartment – and technically, 7 months in Jakarta. Actually, 7 months abroad.

– While I was running some errands, I happened to stop in the middle of a road and notice how neat the avenue/ crossing looked from a distance. That I actually had a camera with me to click it.

I know, the above two realisations are not related. I mean, to a casual reader, they are not. But to me, it indicates how fond I have grown of this place, my home away from home.

The roads are much familiar now and I experience pleasure while passing through specific parts of this city. I remember the day I landed here. I didn’t expect much from Jakarta. After all, it was just the capital of a third world country – another third world country. Coming from one such country with second largest population in the world, I felt I had seen enough already – with Mumbai being one of the filthiest cities in the world. What I however saw was better infrastructure, something similar to ‘discipline’ and cleanliness. Of course, many people have eventually told me, not all parts of Jakarta are like that and my impression would change soon. Its been 7 months now. Yes, there are parts where Jakarta is not clean or that there is poor infrastructure; still, having lived in Mumbai all my life, this seems nothing in comparison.

We love the fact that weather all round the year is almost constant. Wet and dry seasons do exist – but no dramatic changes here. Sun rises around 6 am throughout the year, sets exactly around 6 pm. Dry season is hot, and occasional drizzle makes it warmish, while wet season is warm and the regular rains make it less warm.

We have worked around 2 of our greatest obstacles too. Food and language. Food – we learned how to order, not to think if unknowingly there are non-vegetarian ingredients on our plates. We’ve learned basic language, courtesy our maid, with who, atleast I have made a point to converse regularly and learn Bahasa Indonesia. At this point, I can claim to be able to speak it better than Swapnil – though thats because he has so far not shown much interest in learning. Our Bahasa though is workable, functional.

We’ve learned to ignore the astounding amounts of Indonesian Rupiahs that we have to shell out. Swapnil’s daily commute costing about 40,000 IDR (around 200 INR) , half a kilo of tuur daal costing about 18000 IDR (Around 90 INR) and so on. The moment you convert currency, you fall in that infinite loop of guilt which I have been victim of. At one point, I used to be miserable whenever I would buy anything, even travelling I’d try to avoid – because shelling out INR 200 for a 15 minute taxi ride wasnt something I could digest. But then I  realised, if I had to continue living here, I’d need to ignore the currency conversion part. I am not entirely there yet, but way better definitely.We have also learned to control the urge to shop that one gets after visiting numerous malls here, grander than ever. I was never an avid shopper. For me it was not very difficult – though for Swapnil it was somewhat. 😉

We have some Indonesian friends now – which is great. I have found Indonesians to be extremely friendly, polite, always smiling and ready with loads of jokes and anecdotes. We have listened to and loved some of the Bahasa Indonesia songs. Music is universal. You don’t need a language to appreciate it really. We have been to some nice places – of which we have good and bad memories. We’ve tried local fare as much as our vegetarian palette could allow us – and liked some of what we tried.

The house where I stay is now a home to me. We renewed the lease for one more year – despite the fact that there were cheaper AND prettier AND more furnished flats within this complex. Some even came with the promise of a lot of breeze, which I have been pining for some time now. Still, we renewed this flat. This flat has grown on us now. It smells like home here.

All in all, we’ve made ourselves at home here. This seven – month hitch has been fun all along. Thus may I conclude my seventh-month speech.

The avenue, as I noticed today!

The avenue, as I noticed today!

Garden wars episode II – The aphids strike back

Not so long time ago, in a balcony far away (from most of my regular readers)…

It is a dark time for the Jedi-gardener. Although the original aphid base has been destroyed, the gen Y aphids, immune to the original homemade pesticidal force have evolved to be more powerful troops. They have united and driven the home-made pesticidal forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the balcony.

The Jedi-gardener group (lead by its sole member) is perplexed and helpless. Aphid troops have this time joined hands with the mildews and are slowly, but forcefully spreading out across the balcony. The home – gardening force  seems to be growing weaker and weaker…

Watch this space for further updates….

Re: Nutritional update, attention: delinquent in Jakarta

Yes, mea culpa!

You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of knowing you, can think any thing wanting …. 😛

 As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my laziness. I was given good principles, but left to follow them with inertia and low morale. Such I was, in India and Indonesia; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Aarti! What do I not owe you! Your blogposts taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. How you’ve managed to stay motivated, enthusiastic about all the things you are doing, and managing to recover from blues too… 😉

Here’s my account for the day – Morning began with soaked methi seeds and chai+couple of horlics biscuits, a mid morning breakfast of a very large pear and a half a glass of milk followed by a lunch at a restaurant comprising of plain rice and broccoli with mushrooms. I followed it up with evening chai and biscuits and an early dinner consisting of moong khichadi (which had more moong and less rice), kokum soup and yoghurt. All in all, I am proud of not having eaten anything deep fried or too sweet. I also ate a fruit, some broccoli and yoghurt 🙂 . I am getting better at this….

Exercise: – 10 minutes brisk walk from mall back to house. I did not take cab….

your turn now… 🙂

Just Like That

Its 11.12 pm in my system tray and I am sitting in my balcony, waiting for Swapnil to come home. He had been travelling to Manila and is expected any time now.I missed him more this time than all his earlier trips and am wondering why this should be. Its his 6th trip at least and I should have gotten used to it by now. I had no trouble living alone for all those trips, but this time, I did. I didn’t sleep before 3 am on any of the nights that he wasn’t here and yesterday, I didn’t sleep the whole night..!. I am….not scared actually. Not scared at all in fact living alone, whenever he travels. This is one of the safest cities, and the area where I live is well protected. Probably safer than Mumbai. Not probably; certainly it is safer… so I am hard pressed to provide any answer why this ‘staying up late at night’ happened….anyways, now that he’ll be at home, I don’t need to explore this thought any more. At least for now. So I set it aside.

I look around. Very few houses in the towers surrounding me are lit at this hour. Indonesia is the country of early risers. They certainly are early to bed too. But then, its 11.20 pm already. Not really early. Most of the houses with light on, have shut their windows and pulled the curtains. Its time to sleep. Only a solitary balcony in the adjoining tower has light on and I see someone seated in a chair and reading a book. He has overgrown plants around him. I have seen this guy several times reading in his balcony at night. Maybe he has no company presently like me, and has to turn outside for his amusement. Though his mini-garden is not flattering. All those potted plants have overgrown. Those plants would better suit a park now, not a balcony… well, that reminds me of my own plants….

I got these plants in July I think, mid – July when Swapnil was in Hanoi for a week. Living in a house with a balcony and potting plants there had always been part of my ‘domestic-life’ dream 🙂 . Back home in India, my parents’ house had a balcony initially, though ill utilised. Eventually we broke down the wall separating the drawing-room and balcony, to make a bigger space to entertain guests. So the imagery that I had of sipping hot chai while reading newspapers in the morning, in my balcony, was never fulfilled there. Here however, I have the luxury of a balcony. Now, even the potted plants. We immediately had taken couple of our dining table chairs in the balcony after we set up this mini garden and now mostly DO have our morning chai here. Sometimes we chat, the other times we watch Indian serials on YouTube, or we observe kids playing in the swimming pool on podium. Like I said, this is the country of early risers and even the babies and kids are no exceptions. It is bright at 6 am in the morning and by 6.30, the podium and pool area is full of parents carrying their kids for a morning swim and nannies with babies on strollers. Those kids sure love water. It is probably the most entertaining thing to watch in the mornings… those smiling kids 🙂 . We have spotted our regular ones by now 🙂 and when some of the days those particular kids are not on the podium, we wonder if they are away or are sick ….

Coming back to my plants… a periwinkle, a rose, 2 chrysanthemums and a variety of jasmine. All flowering plants. Somehow, I don’t exactly appreciate the show plants. I bought the ‘sayali’ (which I discovered on the net, also belongs to Jasmine family) hoping that I would smell its scent on breezy nights such as today…but it has never flowered so far. The chrysanthemums are sick by now. Just yesterday, I sprayed a homemade pesticide on them hoping to cure the mildew that has now spread on them. Fingers crossed. I don’t know much of gardening and am discovering a lot. Its like tending babies only… quite lesser responsibility, but then you don’t know whats bothering them and you can just guess. I had taken a picture of my plants within a week of getting them, and I will insert that in this post – but now it pains me to see them and realise that they’ve lost their bloom. Excepting rose and periwinkle, everyone else is sick. Yes everyone. Arent plants too living beings? I used to talk to my plants when I was a child. Now I am not as poetic, but I definitely believe they have feelings… of course I know that the science has already proved this…

Its 11.38 pm. Swapnil’s still on the way. Must be stuck in airport traffic. Though whatever he requested for dinner is ready since a while and I might have to reheat it. Just plain simple moong khichadi. Ever since my friend Aarti threw down the gauntlet – of attempting to follow a healthier lifestyle, I have been trying to incorporate fruits and milk in my diet and for all these days, I have successfully done so. Add in today’s methi-paratha for a good measure ( it evens out the cheese pizza that I had for lunch today with friends). So far so good. I now look up.Its 11.50 pm and very few windows are lit. When will Swapnil arrive already??. Though I love sitting in my balcony. Its dry season and fortunately we have some breeze this week….if this balcony was any bigger, we’d have probably slept here…

The bell rang. Bye for now.

My plants – when they were happy and blooming,,,