There are little things in life you take for granted. Like, having an uninterrupted Internet connection - 24x7. Or being able to ask basic questions like ‘Do you have beer?’ in a supermarket. Or letting the maintenance guy know that the drains in the bathroom are clogged and you need a plumber.
20 days in Jakarta and I am appreciating all these. The Internet here has its own mind - comes and goes as it pleases. As does my domestic help. English is a foreign language and could very well have been Greek. All my dumb charade skills, so far, have proved to be insufficient to get my queries across.
A word of advice given to me by a friend, who’s been here long enough to know what he was talking about, was that every expat in Jakarta goes through their highs and lows. You like it a minute, love it by the hour and then become so frustrated that loathing is all that you feel for weeks. I took a bet with him that I will not let that happen to me. He said, we’ll talk in 6 months’ time. Over a bottle of Vodka, paid by the loser.
When we decided to come here, I had made up my mind to embrace this crazy city and this chaotic country with all its negatives and spin it out into a positive experience. Sure, the infrastructure sucks. So, I come from India. Okay, things don’t work. Yeah, I have seen enough of that in India.
Jakarta reminds me of Bombay - crazy traffic, lazy infrastructure, chaos, pollution, poverty and all that dirt and grime. And like Bombay, it has that vibe that you experience the moment you arrive - the resilience, the never-give-up attitude, the life that you witness in every nook and cranny. Yes, it is beautiful, if you know where and how to look.
In a way, I was missing all this in Kuala Lumpur over the last few years. What’s life without a little chaos, right? Or so I thought. What I had not taken into account is that I had left India almost 7 years back. Got spoilt in Kuala Lumpur. Got used to smooth roads and clean air. Grown older and acquired a bit of impatience.
So yes, I have had my moments of exhilaration here in Jakarta, when instead of feeling bogged down by the traffic, I have concentrated on the stories being played out on the busy streets. Or when I have found the perfect home and discovered a ‘duck place’, that also serves siew yok.
And I have also had my share of frustration when my domestic help has turned up only 5 out of 20 days so far and I can’t get to make people understand that I am looking for a new one. Or when the cabbie has shortchanged me and all I can do is give him a ‘I-know-what-you-are-doing-but-I-don’t-know-how-to-confront-you’ look.
Friends back in India, I again empathize with all your ‘maid-bunked-yet-again’, ‘cabbies-are-devil-reincarnated’ and ‘traffic-not-moving-an-inch’ FB status woes.
But I am not giving up. There’s always a solution to any problem, if you want to solve it. Be smart & get a smart phone. Pick up the local language asap. Do your own house work and make the hubby do some too. And practice meditation to regain that patience.
The South America journals have taken a back seat now - all those who have been complaining need to do some meditation as well. I promise as soon as I am calm enough to recompose my thoughts, I will write something. Having an access to Internet will help, of course, to upload my blog. Not to forget solving the mystery of the clogged drains. And learning Bahasa. Google Translate is obviously not helping me here.
So wish me luck. I do need that bottle of Vodka! (yet another thing in life we had taken for granted - a well stocked bar at home).