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!

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