Sunday, January 4, 2015

Neighborhood council meeting

The neighbor's porch. Hard to believe it's January
As of January 3, we've been here 6 months. Friends who live overseas told us to expect the unexpected. That things would not be like we imagined or maybe hoped. That we might achieve more or less than planned. They said learning a new language was a difficult challenge but worthwhile. And they were right.

Friday, January 2
We walk down to town. It's downhill all the way so it doesn't seem far. Then we walk some more. By the time we get home, we've done about 6 miles (10 km). And the cable TV shop closed before we got there. (Our TV doesn't work; we get a "disconnect" signal. It's hard to hear enough language without it. But W will try again tomorrow.) My feet are tired when the taxi picks us up far from home drops us at the house. The fare is $4.

Potholes can be serious obstacles
Saturday, January 3
W and I walk around the corner with Dr W at 9:20am,  headed to the Community Center for a meeting of the neighborhood council. We are the first to arrive so we go next door first. The lady who lives there cooks beef "floss" = meat fried, dried, and pulled into fluffy bits that are sprinkled on rice, baking, or soups to add flavor. We'll order some when we get back next week. The cook sells through a well-known bakery for twice the price. Better to buy as a neighbor!

About 60 families live in the neighborhood. The main business of the day is affirming a permit to remove and replace a house: a non-local family has purchased the old place and wants to tear it down. "It normally takes a year or two to build," they tell us. Their son is an architectural graduate who is helping his parents as they plan. They show their intentions to the council.

W has to leave: he has to try again to get the company to hook up our TV. I stay to find out how the neighborhood is run and learn a few things:
A mini-pickup truck = motorcycle conversion

  • The community leaders are esteemed and educated people. They are polite and respectful to each other. Most were scientists (or spouses of scientists) who worked at LIPI, a scientific research institute established  in 1967 by the government to oversee national scientific progress. When the Bandung facility closed, the government allowed the researchers to purchase land or their rental homes near the institute. (We officially have a neighborhood section number. However,  the sign at the entry uses the old name so that's the easiest way to self-identify.)
  • The community center is used for prayers. The man who used to call prayers passed away this fall so prayers are held once or twice a week instead of daily. On one side long runners underlay prayer rugs. 
  • Dr W introduces me to Ibu S, who teaches Arabic at the center. She also schedules rentals. Functions must be cleared by the committee, but the center rents @ Rp500.000 (about $45) for neighbors and double that amount for outsiders. The chairman encourages me to rent the building for next week's Ciumbuleuit women's gathering if my house is not big enough. (We may have 30-35, for which we will order take-away boxes from the local bakery, as well as providing food. What oh what shall Ibu A and I cook for so many?!)
  • Women are encouraged to join and attend bimonthly LIPI meetings. I was at my first meeting last month at Ibu Wigar's. Ibu Wiwi has just been voted as head of the women's gatherings; we sit next to each other after Waldemar leaves.
  • Security guards get minimal pay but can be subsidized by private contributions. We may consider a donation now and again.
  • Before the meeting is over, one of the very respected members asks what we're doing here. Our immediate task is learning the language. We are professors so we will be teaching as well. I tell them that we have always had company, so they can expect people to come and go from our house. Our guests will be respectful and pleasant but if there are any problems, would the council please feel free to let us know? If we are inadvertently impolite, will they please correct our manners?
  • We each get a lunch box packed with a bottled water and 5 foods, savory and sweet. Oh my. Yum. I taste a few things and take the rest home.
Heron batik
Dr W and I walk home about 11:30 when prayers begin. I'm working in my office when I start to feel peckish. It's after 1, the usual time for lunch. I haven't heard Ibu A cooking so I go down to see what's happening.

She's ironing. I leave her to her work and make soup. After checking out the fridge, I gather the leftovers: sausage in gravy, shredded chicken and mushrooms, eggplant, peppers. We leave tomorrow; I have to use the food up. I boil up a broth, seasoning water with a Maggi beef cube. I toss everything in to blend and heat. In another pot, I cook two rounds of noodles. Then I call Ibu A to join me. "Aren't you hungry?" I ask her.

She gets the giggles when she comes into the kitchen. "What? You are cooking?" She is aghast but between us we communicate that she thought I had already eaten (acc. to W's brief chat before he left) so she made lunch for one: herself. She tries the soup, which is flavorful and spicy. I have two helpings before the noodles run out. Then it's back to work. 

Ibu A washes the dishes and dashes out the door after 3, leaving a clean counter, a pile of ironed laundry and sheets, and washed floors. The marble tiles are still gritty in places so I keep my indoor flip-flops on, as usual.

Ikat fabric: one of a kind
Ibu W calls to let me know that Adeline, the batik artist and community development director, has dropped off the fabrics we were considering Thursday. Would I like to come get them? The invoice is in the bag. I pull out bills from my pocket and pay for the two lengths I want to keep: a lavender and peach ikat that I shall use for a skirt and a 3-tone brown and grey heron pattern. I haven't decided whether it will be for decor or another shirt for W.

W comes back with the errand undone. Yesterday, the staff sitting on the steps after closing said the shop was open 9-2 each Saturday. They neglected to mention that this Saturday was some kind of store holiday. Sigh. He brings in the canary from the porch, who fluffs up his feathers and gets ready to sleep.

We relax in the evening. And we pray over the neighbors, the community leaders, the friends we've met. Over the churches and pastors who will meet tomorrow. Over the house and our surroundings.  Then we fall asleep until morning.

Sunday, January 4
We read the scriptures and pray. There's so much to talk to God about. We are grateful for safety. For a house to sleep, cook, and be hospitable in. This year stretches ahead, unknown and untested. We move forward day by day, asking God for guidance and insight, for connections and favor.

Mobile kitchen: fridge on wheels
We drive to Jakarta in the afternoon. We have an Indonesian Orientation course Monday through Wednesday. The drive takes 2 1/2 hours. That's excellent, one of our fastest trips. Apparently Jakartans have not yet left Bandung after their shopping weekend.

I'm tired after W weaves through traffic. Avery's gone to enjoy karaoke with friends so the flat is quiet when we arrive. While I blog, I absorb the TV reports of Indonesia's recovery efforts after the AirAsia crash on Dec. 28.

The word for sacrifice, scapegoat, and victim is the same in Indonesian:  korban. Our hearts are heavy when we think of the families who waved goodbye to loved ones at the airport ... and will not see them again. We are especially sorrowful for a church in Surabaya who lost over 40 members. The news shows families mourning those they miss.
In the evening, W walks to a neighborhood vegan restaurant for pseudo-burgers. They're cold and kind of hard by the time I pull the "veet" out of the bread and microwave it.

For us, life continues as before. For those who have lost loved ones this Christmas, time stands still as they learn to cope. I look forward to the place without sadness or sorrow, to the time when God wipes the tears from our eyes. Blessings and peace on you in the New Year.

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