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The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Things We Will Miss

Haha, so much for posting regularly.

Today is our last day in Jakarta : my three children, Ti, my maid, my husband and I will be on a KL bound flight at 11.20 am Waktu Indonesia Barat, thus ending our month long vacation here. Well, except that my husband never had a day-off, so it wasn't much of a holiday for me. I didn't manage to buy even one fake handbag.

It is now 6 am, and the city is already awake. It looks like a clear day, as I glance out from my apartment window. My husband has made a temporary home in Allson Residence, which by all appearances seems to be run by Sunway. It is a comfortable three bedroom, and the building has verdant gardens, manicured sorroundings and a lush tropical pool, but the only catch is that it contravenes the basic rule of real estate : location. Allson Residence is in Senen, the Batavian equivalent of Chow Kit. Next to our apartment is a shopping mall called Atrium, which holds the dubious honour of being the first building to be bombed in Jakarta.

So the view I get when I look out the window, is Pasar Senen, one of the biggest wet markets in Jakarta. It's also a Bursa Kue Subuh, where sellers of traditional cakes and delicacies from all over the city get their supply. Apart from that, a huge section is reserved for onderdil, or auto spare parts. The whole place is fringed by wooden kiosks selling boots, shoes, leather jackets, shirts and pants, all sourced from other people's clotheslines and front doors. Yes, I mean it's stolen. Needless to say, I have never ventured into Pasar Senen, even though I am told it has the cheapest telekungs, batik, beaded blouses and comforters in Jakarta.

The roads sorrounding Pasar Senen is clogged with buses, motorcycles, cars, orange three- wheeled vehicles called bajajs, and their version of the mini-bus - mikrolets, which is really just a small van cramped with passengers. Pasar Senen never sleeps, and it will not allow others near it to do so, either. So Pasar Senen tops my list of things I will miss in Jakarta, for the sheer fact that it refuses to be ignored. I am so tempted to venture into its dark innards, but I'm a lily-livered shopper. Anyway, here are the other reasons :

Batak Free Radio
One of the small wooden shops in Pasar Senen sells pirated music. 24-7, the shop will advertise its content, at full volume. During the day, the music is not so audible, but at night, I can clearly hear their playlist : Christmas carols in Batak, lengthy ethnic percussion stuff, plaintive Minang ballads, the requisite dangdut, Bob Marley and the Wailers, but most of all Batak Top 40. As a concession perhaps, from midnight till this morning, we got Ebiet G Ade.

#1908, Allson Residence
The apartment came with nice, warm wooden furniture and mint green walls, but it is a little boring. The signature Mokciknab decorating trick is to buy lots of little cushions, useless mengkuang baskets, and as much orchids as you can afford. I think my sisters will agree that the place looks a lot more like me, now.

Stuff You Eat/Drink that You Can't Get in Malaysia
-A drink called You.C1000 Health Drink. It's the most delicious way to get your vitamins.
-Avocado juice with chocolate sauce.
-Susu Chap Junjung condensed milk in a squeegee bottle, but with added chocolate. The cheapest fudge you can find.
-Nasi Timbel. A peasant's lunch - rice with fried tauhu, tempe and fresh ulam, with sambal on the side. If you can afford it, you can add fried chicken.
-Instant Swiss Roll Mix called Tepung Kek Pondan. It is not a misspelling of Pandan. It's the name of the manufacturer.
-What you call pondan, they call wadam's or wariya's, shorthand for wanita-adam or wanita-pria. Starting at about 5.30 in the evening, these glamorous creatures will wait at traffic lights and serenade you as your car stops for the light to change. It is polite to thank them with at least 1,ooo Rupiah. I can't see why they shouldn't be included under the heading Stuff You Eat/Drink.

My Sopir, Pak Rifai
I suspect Pak Rifai is a little on the effeminate side. He has a penchant for cooking and likes to accompany me shopping, and gives me advice on tudung, flowers and furniture. He has three sons, all of them studying to be chefs, currently doing their training in Dubai and KL. The youngest son, whom he is particularly proud of, was the winner of last year's Abang dan Nona Jakarta, the city's most celebrated pageant. I will miss having someone a little on the effeminate side driving me around.

Real News
Journalists and editors who don't pull their punches. Newscasters who ask straight questions and unflinching in their quest for answers. In the media here, there is a constant pursuit for truth, or at least, a constant battle against bullshit. The complaint you get from the taxi driver is the same polemic you'll read in the papers and and hear on TV. In general, I don't have to wade through propaganda and decipher spin, to know what's really happening. Now it's back to everthing's-coming-up-roses Malaysia. Sigh.

I'll post pictures soon. Right now my kids are up, and my husband is nagging me to take a bath. See you in KL!


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