Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bandung buzz

Home - for the next 2 years
We're back in Jakarta again, after 2 days in Bandung, our adopted city.

Monday, August 11:
It's the birthday of two great men, my dad and my "best" uncle Erich. Because we'll be driving to Bandung today, we're away from our US number. So we call them early, the night before in Chilliwack and Winnipeg.

Breakfast is "bug granola." I don't know if there are actually bugs in it but I had left it open on the counter 2 weeks ago. There were teeny ants around the base when I came home. I love that granola: it hits the spot on mornings when we have nothing else in mind. So into the freezer it went (die bugs die!) and I carefully looked if there were ants floating in the hot water added this morning. Nope. We're probably good - and it was tasty.

We get word early in the morning that IMLAC, the language school we were planning to begin Thursday, cannot accept us as students. The pastor who gives us the news studied there 15 years ago; he has a pleasant conversation with his former tutor. But he's given the news that the government has recently mandated a certain student visa for IMLAC; however, we have working visas. Hmmm. We were planning to register later today so we consider our options. That door is firmly shut.

So we call our friend Sumathi in Bandung to ask if she could arrange a fact-finder meeting with the registrar of the Theological Seminary. She makes the appointment for 4pm and we plan to have supper together afterwards.

Pretty landscape on the way to Bandung
W uses my IPhone to help our taxi driver find his way to CityTrans, the shuttle to Bandung. They hold the 11am shuttle for us and we hop aboard and into the last seats for a smooth $9 ride. I've sprayed insect repellent on hands and feet, so the first mosquito wanders by without landing. I usually pick up a bite or two on every outing, so that makes me happy. (I try to be as consistent with bug spray as I am with my 50 SPF sunblock.) We lean back and put on our seatbelts. Those are mandatory only in the front seats, but there's no harm to us in fastening them.

Red and white flags line the streets and houses, anticipating Independence Day on August 17. It starts to pour 20 miles from Bandung, about 1:10pm. Motorcyclists huddle under their tarp-like ponchos and the water streams down the streets into gutters.

We pass the seminary entrance on our way in, and are at the CityTrans depot by early afternoon. The thunder crashes down but the rain is lighter in the north end (where we hope to live) than the downtown downpour. It's cooler, too. What a contrast with the sunny humid weather we left behind in Jakarta! (82oF instead of 92o.) Evening temperatures in Bandung are about 66oF, definitely sweater weather.

We unpack at the hotel. The first taxi hailed by the hotel at 3:30 takes us down the block and pulls over into a driveway. He refuses to go to town where the water is 1' deep. "Air" he repeats over and over ("water"), shaking his head. He talks to the concierge at the hotel where he pulled in, and they order us a better taxi, who gets stuck in traffic like everyone else - but gets us to the Seminary by 4:15.

So good to sit across the table from good friends!
We meet the registrar in the hallway; she's waiting for us. Sumathi and Augustine come up to help us negotiate the forms and conversation. I'm amazed at how much bahasa (Indonesian) Sumathi can speak - here and at the restaurant later - after a few months at the language school. This language program starts the coming Monday. We fill out paperwork in case we can attend - we'll need field approval because the doors to the regular (and anticipated) school are closed. (S&A would be our classmates.)

When we're done, the rain has stopped and the streets are almost dry. Evaporation wicks water off everything in a jiffy. Our friends introduce us to Raya Sunda, where we eat 6 dishes in family style, for $23 total. Yup - all 4 of us consume grilled fish and chicken, peanut-glazed vegetables, rice, salad and cucumbers, and more in the Combo #1. We consider if we should work our way through another combo each time we eat there together = try everything. It's tempting!

Traditional Sundanese food
Afterwards, our friends walk us about 1 km to the corner where we can catch an angkot (little van/bus).  Sumathi remarks that we'd be best off not walking around in late evening until we can speak the language. Our white skin glows in the dark. They see us safely on the angkot and check in via phone in a few minutes to make sure we've made it safely to the mall. No problem, though we get quizzical looks from fellow passengers unused to seeing foreigners on the routes.

We walk around a bit at the mall, shaking down our supper before standing on the street to catch a cab to the hotel. We can get anything we need here. Then we wait 15 minutes on the street corner for a "good cab" - either a Blue Bird or Cipaganti.

I didn't sleep deeply because I'm pondering if this is the house for us. Lew has cautioned us to consider where language school will be; we may have a long commute if we attend school downtown. And our daughter contacts us with an urgent prayer request. We pray and pass the request to our family and friends in the USA. The church here also prays for her. She's safe and sound by the time we leave the hotel. Whew.

And we read of Robin William's suicide. Such manic fun and energy, snatched away by the destroyer's schemes. It makes us sad. His poor wife and kids.

We flag down another Cipaganti taxi without much of a wait ... on the same street corner where we doubted one would come by yesterday. The driver buzzes us uphill to the right neighborhood. Within minutes, we leave behind the smog and traffic of the city as we climb the hill. The enormous trees that line the streets are painted with white bug-fighting stripes, just like the oaks and elms of Winnipeg, where I grew up. We pass students registering at the Catholic University and lines of street vendors getting ready to feed them home-cooked snacks and deck them out with cool clothes.

We arrive early. Two workmen are painting the ceilings and tidying the grounds. We take our shoes off, a mistake since the floors are dusty and dirty. There must be a lot of lizards around; droppings lie behind the sofas and on the tables and chair cushions. We'd have a lot of cleaning to do when we move in!

The owner comes in to meet us shortly after Richard and the realtor arrive. Dr. Albert studied biochemistry in Holland. He speaks English, German, Dutch, and Indonesian. He and W hit it off. He tells us we have a well as backup for city water. We are told the house is on sewer not septic, hurrah! and there has been no problem with security. "The neighborhood is very safe; there are maybe 10 expat families nearby. You can walk in the morning for exercise."

A living room waiting for TLC
By 11am, we are done. We've had another look around and asked questions about sewer, garbage, and other details. I measured the rooms, confirmed the bed size (yes, the sheets we bought are too big and will have to be tucked in, argh) ... and we've signed a 2-year lease.

We have a home! We plan to return on Friday to get the key and move in. Sumathi helps us rent a little truck that can haul our 6 suitcases and the linens we purchased at Lebaran sales last month. Hopefully our dishes will be ready as well.

Richard offers to drive us to our next stop, Cihampelas Mall. On the way, he pulls into the telecom shop to help W buy a new SIM card; he wants his same phone number for our replacement phone (purchased when my IPhone went missing). Good thing W chose that phone - he knows just how it works. Richard also makes several recommendations for where to take walks or jobs (Padja Jarung) and places to eat. He includes a heads up to stay away from "executive spas" (fronts for prostitution). And he drops us at the mall.

We have only an hour before we need to head back to the hotel. The first restaurant has Jägerschnitzel and Spätzle for $5.50. I'm in! and actually we both eat the same thing and think it's delicious. We head back to the hotel where I flake out for a half-hour nap. Stress from the morning calls and the house review make me tired. W on the other hand gets wound up by stress. He heads out the door, looking for a bakery to bring back Bandung treats for the IES staff. No luck. He walks over 1 km and turns around when it starts to sprinkle. Besides, our late checkout time is almost here.

We are booked for a 5:45pm ride, but decide to see if we can catch an earlier shuttle back to Jakarta. We're underway by 2:45 - but several accidents hold up traffic on the main highway. We crawl along or stand still for several hours before we get to the collisions. A tow-truck has put a pull-rope on one car and a second rope from the car to another vehicle behind that. Whaaaat? If the drivers couldn't avoid rear-ending each other, will they have better luck strung together? The families are still sitting in the crushed vehicles, ready to be pulled away. A busload of passengers sits on the guardrails, chatting on the phone and waiting for someone to take them away.

At 5:50, the Muslim call to prayers comes over the van speakers. No one pays attention. Passengers are reading, snoozing, or making phone calls. Richard brought fried banana pastries as a morning treat, and we pass those around the bus. A few passengers take them (we have enough for tomorrow's breakfast) and we chat together. By 6:10, it's too dark to write.

We hop out of the shuttle and onto the curb in our Jakarta suburb at 8:15pm ... 5 1/2 hours after boarding. None of us has had bathroom breaks or food, besides those pastries. The cab gets us home by 8:40. What a treat to haul the carry-on up the stairs, have a cup of tea, and think about "going home" to Bandung in a few days.

Read more:
*I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2 NIV

*No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord. Jeremiah 31:34 ESV

*Thomas answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Eternal God, you have revealed yourself to us through your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. As we draw closer to you may we continue to grow in our faith and our relationship with you. Amen.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity:
"The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. . . . I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own."

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