Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bus rides and bedsheets

Tuesday, July 29:
We took the Transjakarta bus to Glodok Monday (separate bus lane is like a carpool lane, with bus stations in the middle of the street, separating traffic directions). The busses have women-only parts of the car. Often a female attendant will shoo the men to the back. Young boys can stay with their mothers, but when they reach puberty, guys sit in the back. The other job of the attendant is to see that pregnant women, mothers with young kids, and seniors sit down. She'll move a young gal out of her seat as needed. Children often take up seats beside their moms, though. It must not be considered polite to give an adult the seat.

A big sign on a seemingly deserted building,
except for a sizable grocery store
in the basement.
We see our first accident Monday; a bus has rear-ended a car. We pray for travelers headed to Eid. They stand on the side of the freeway, talking on their cellphones. Women tuck children around them and keep them out of the moving lanes.

A ramen-lover's dream aisle at Giant Express
W and I walk about 2 miles to Giant Express for groceries. We eat at a restaurant along the way - chicken noodle soup for me; W orders fried chicken and also gets smoked quail eggs, rice, skewered liver and mushrooms. He forgets that side dishes are charged for if eaten and cost nothing if they're still on the table when we're done. With ice tea, our meal is about $4.

Good food: $2 chicken dinner
It's not a good idea for me to shop when I'm full. I can't think of a thing I want to eat. I'm amazed by the aisle of "slimming teas." (If it were true, we'd all be emaciated.) W loads up on snacks. Laden with groceries, we catch a taxi home for $2.

We call Mom K to say hi for her wedding anniversary. We especially remember W's dad on this day each year.

We walk to the Transjakarta busline, starting around noon (1 hour walk). We've learned to tack 60-100% onto the time estimates of GoogleEarth. I'm trying new flip-flops which blister my feet. In the heat, the bandages keep lifting from my skin. We stop at a little Pharma Generic (generic pharmacy) in the neighborhood. Two young gals sit outside, chatting to each other and texting. They rush into the shop as we approach and sell us two kinds of medical tape: 75c and 35c. Feet fixed. Off we go.

We turn the corner on our walk: across from houses, a carnival sits at
the edge of a garbage dump, complete with smoldering fires,
grazing goats, and a muddy drainage canal.
On the bus, an old lady insists I take her seat. Maybe Indonesians can't tell our age, just as we're not sure how old they are. I'm glad though. She gets off the next stop but the bus ricochets off railway tracks and potholes as we criss-cross the city. W notes, "It has no shocks." In one area, it bucks up and down like a bronco. People smile at our astonishment as they are tossed around, hands locked on the metal poles and hand grips.

We're the only Caucasians on the 5 bus lines we take. There's not a brown head among us passengers, never mind blonds. We take lines #8, 1, and 12 going to the mall, waiting for the last bus connection for over an hour. On the #12, we start talking with 3 siblings who speak good English. The oldest, Eric, is in university in Jogja. He mentions that they are Christians, and he's met our coworker Jamie Kemp (Chi Alpha) at his university. His face lights up: Jamie has a great reputation among the students, he tells us.

We're at the mall by 2:45, after almost 3 hours of travel. There's a salon inside the door and my nails are splitting. I need a manicure and polish. The gal speaks a bit more English than I do Indonesian, so in my notebook, I draw a nail and a dotted line that's the shape I want cut. She has a used emory board and clippers that don't look sterilized. I pray for safety. She tells me she's a Christian and has a baby but no husband. She lives with her mom and they're from Medan. An hour later, I have a soft polish on my nails. (It partly wipes off two nails during our mall visit.) \

W thinks the bed in the principle suite of Bandung is one size; I'm sure it's a size smaller. So we buy 2 bigger sets of the white bedsheets. I can tuck in the extra 20cm on one side. Each bedset comes with 5 pieces: 2 pillowcases, 2 bolsters, and a fitted sheet. Buying is a hilarious process: four young employees try to figure out if "100% Sateen Jacquard" means the fabric is cotton. (Feels like the other cotton set.) I take my chances.

You can't buy flat sheets here, according to a previous heads-up from women living here. I brought 3 or 4 flat sheets from home to sew our duvet covers once we're settled in. (Duvet covers here are $50-$200 in good cotton.)

Supper is donar kababs for me; a lamb burger for W. His burger looks normal but the "bun" is 2 pieces of deep-fried flatbread.

It's 8pm by the time we walk back to the bus. I see my first rat on our walk, 9" of glossy black with a long pink tail. W teases that it had pink bows in its ears. Well, it was pretty. (But not that pretty.)

We can't figure out what bus to take. After reading the signs and checking W's map, we sit in an empty bus for 10 minutes, then almost hop aboard a bus that stops nearby. The driver and passengers wave us off. "Go there," they say, pointing to the terminal where we arrived for the mall. It's confusing: we'll be leaving in the same direction in which we came.

"This is correct, but Bus #10 takes 1 hour waiting," says a young couple passing their baby from him to her and back while standing in the terminal. They're on their way home home from Eid celebrations and family time. Apparently this route - whose bus took 1 hour to show up on the way here - is notorious for having hardly any busses. With so many people riding, it's a marvel of un-planning. We wait. And chat with the  couple.

I'm really tired, so W promises to choose another method of transport if the bus doesn't come in 10 minutes. We get distracted by our IPhones and have been waiting 15 minutes when the bus stops at our terminal. On the bus music mix, a soloist sings a cover of Adele's "We could have had it all". W and I almost lose it, remembering how my brother told us at Christmas (in Switzerland) that it was the favorite solo choice of girls in the reform school where he teaches. "There's a fiiiyer, burning in my heart..." The song goes on and on.

En route, Livia sends a happy message via WhatsApp (a free texting system). The realtor will send us a lease contract if we are serious about the house. We text back: YES, we're serious. Please send it! But would someone in the IES office be willing to read the two-year contract and help us transfer the down payment? She texts, "Sure" and sends initial directions.

So it looks like we'll live in our first choice, a home where we can host guests and perhaps start small groups. It's within a mile's walk of the language school. That's no small deal; on our last visit, it took over an hour to drive the few miles from downtown to our hotel in that neighborhood.

A comfy chair or 2 for the living room?
At our homeward-bound Jakarta transfer, it's only a 10 minute wait for the Blok M bus. A 23c ticket lets us ride the busses from one end of Jakarta to the other. If we transfer without leaving the stations, we could ride all day. Wow.

At Block M, the station is closing. It's 10pm, dark, and our feet are tired. W's carrying the linens. (Did I mention that we also bought 4 towels and 4 hand towels, besides the sheet sets?) Another family - 3 cute kids and their parents - point us to the exit through deserted corridors. We catch a taxi and are in our door by 10:35pm. Shower. Computer. Phone calls. Sleep by 1am.

I can't believe how time is flying. When we arrived, we didn't know what the days would hold. We had no job in Jakarta. We're in Jakarta until we sign our visas on August 3 (Tuesday). Meanwhile, we've been at VBS, enjoyed 2 churches, and begun to learn the language. When language runs out, I draw in my dot notebook (dots instead of lines; thanks Kim) to communicate.

After a breakfast of muesli and relaxing morning, we walk - only 45 minutes - to the mall (PIM) and have lunch there. Strangely to us, at restaurants, whenever a plate of food is done, the server brings it over. We've not once had everyone eating at the same time.

Our task is to purchase Korean futons that will be guest mattresses, 2 pillows, and washcloths to match yesterday's towels. W chooses a wet-dry vacuum cleaner at the ACE hardware and then we schlep everything to a taxi. We're home by 4:30pm.

Semi-automatic washing machine: put clothes and soap in
left. Turn faucet to "wash" and turn the dial to desired wash minutes.
*Unhook hose at side to drain. Turn faucet on again to fill tub to rinse.
Put on second cycle (rinse). Drain.*
[OR skip *to *, take out first load, rinse/spin, and add second load
to wash water on left. In that case, start with a white load and
move to darker, of course.] Take the clean clothes out, put them in the
right side spin tub, flip faucet on "spin", rinsing by letting clean water
run a few seconds over the spinning clothes. Turn off faucet.
Repeat turn on and off faucet on spin cycle, repeat, drain.
Lift the spun clothes out and hang to dry. Easy, eh?
Laundry time: I wash, spin out, and hang 5 loads of clothing and new bedding. In a few hours, the blouses and shirts are dry. The sheets and towels are still a bit damp. W zips through the house with the new vacuum, while I cook spaghetti, using up groceries bought the first week. We eat at 8, make some calls, write some emails, and W's asleep by 10. I'm still fiddling with the blog at midnight.

Is this spiritual work? We have time to think and pray for those around us. We lost a great friend early this morning: Pastor Erwin Rohde slipped into eternity. We last saw him in June, on our way home from our MT cabin. His home-going reminded us today that we are called to offer others hope and a relationship with God. And we're praying for his family.

Read more:
*In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying. Psalm 77:2 ESV

*Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

*Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 ESV

*You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14,16 ESV

*But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Holy Comforter, you know our hearts and you know our needs. We invite you into our hearts and into our lives again today. Walk with us. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment