Sunday, May 30, 2010

Winding Down

Last Saturday was graduation. Not for me. For the seniors, and of course they would be seniors. If they weren't seniors they wouldn't be graduating.
The build-up to the actual event was one of the most hectic yet laid back preparations that I have every experienced. All of the students who were chosen to participate in the event were called out from class somewhere around 9 am every morning, and of course actual practice didn't start until 11:30 or so. So we (a combination of 10th and 11th graders) sat around amusing ourselves in whatever way we could. Guitar, futsal, one kid brought a portable PSP. Then there are the kids who just sleep the time away.
Then the teachers do show up, or are finally prepared to run everyone through rehearsal. The school's music teacher frantically drills the anklung team, choir and traditional instrument team, waving his arms to the rhythm. His face is that of a very stressed man trying to keep water cupped in his hands. He repeatedly makes the students start over at the slightest mistake or error. And while the musicians are being drilled, the rest of us are chowing away in the kantin below. Some days the M.C team (Me and Ayubi) weren't even called to practice. I would sit around, watching the others or help move chairs. Once I was called out of class for a whole day just to try on my traditional Sudanese outfit, then that same afternoon, no one practiced. Someone had decided to play the film Avatar and a projector and everyone sat around watching it, teachers and students. Not that I mind not studying. Playing futsal sure beats an hour and a half of physics in Indonesian.
The actual graduation went pretty smooth except for the occasional burst of obnoxious feedback from the microphones, or the fact that none of the teachers really knew the official schedule for the event. I botched a few words throughout it but apart from that things went okay. Ill have to say though that traditional Sudanese sandals are not the most comfortable things to wear for over three hours.

I find that things and occurrences that would have been strange or unusual during my first few weeks or months here as normal as brushing my teeth at night. Like the incomplete handshake that I was so baffled by back in August. Or running frantically to get to a local security hut to escape the mad downpour of rain threatening to soak the camera and other items shoved in my bag. Like the children singing in the Angkots, hoping to get the equivalent of 50 cents from the passengers. Azan and arabic. Or just the heat and rain itself. The whole environment. Everything.

I looked at a calender the other day with my friend. I realized that I had less than a month left in Indonesia. It frightened me in a way. Most of the month if June is booked with AFS events and school trips. My days here are numbered. There are still are so many people I have to see. Things to do. Where did the time go? I'm not ready to leave. The concept is a little hard to process. I try to put it out of my mind and just live, enjoy myself. There are things here that I take for granted everyday that I realize I will miss the most when I am gone. The Martabak seller in front of my complex. The guys at the local mart not too far away from there. Cimahpar, the futsal court where me and my friends so often play. The folks who sell DVDs and laugh when I slip on wet pavement but help me up at the same time. My class IPA 4 and all the good friends in it. Transpakuan, angkot, the rain, the smiles, the laughter. Indonesia.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sate man

Its been a long time since my last post. Ive gotten lazy.
April is almost over. Already. Its slightly mind-boggling in a sense. To think that a year has almost gone by. Too fast. and the state department thought 10 months was long.

I think in one of my earlier posts I mentioned the Sate guy. Sate ayam to be specific (chicken satay). I was waiting for the bus a couple days back and he was working closeby, washing the dirty dishes that came from the tent where the food was served. He had a two buckets of water, one soapy and one clean. I was watchign him when he looked up and noticed me. We exchanged a little smile and head nod of sorts. He went about his buisness.
maybe five minutes later the sate guy was standing around with nothing to do, seeing as the tent was empty of customers at the time. He glanced at me and then walked over and sat down under the bus shelter, immediatly striking up a conversation. "So you like my sate huh?" (the rough translation from Indonesian) We began talking. He learned where I was from and what I was doing, the usual questions from anyone who I meet. Then he began talking about himself. He was from central Java, a village somewhere, I forgot the name. He told me he has been working since he was in middle school seeing as he, nor his family couldnt pay for any higher education. Seeing as they cant go to school, they start work immediatly. He described all kinds of jobs, cooking, cleaning anything and everything. Hes lived everywhere too and now hes in Bogor making Sate in front of my complex. He looks around 18-20 so hes been working like this for a good amount time (probably why it tastes so good) and probably will for much longer. But his shallow pockets dont shake the grin from his face when we talk about soccer or about how delicious his food is. He supports Persija, the Jkt soccer team. I think he lived there for a while before coming to Bogor.
The conversation is cut short by the arrival of the blue and gray bus that I so often ride. We say bye and head back to our buisness, mine a hot and sweaty 30 to 40 minutes on a cramped crowded bus, his washing dishes and cooking for the rest of the night.

It was my birthday a couple days ago. My class got me a futsal ball with signatures all over it from my classmates. I was touched but I dont know how to put it exactly in Indonesian. I just told them I was "senang" which means happy. Not quite right but I think they got the idea. Im gonna miss my class for sure, IPA 4, the bunch of ridiculous jokers that they are.

Thats me tidbit for today. Ill keep em up more regularly. probably.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Early Marchness

I cant believe its march. Where did the time go? what did i spend it doing? what happened?
It march. As you probably guessed. But you probably already knew that.
I met up with my friend Habib on last sunday. He had a new motorcycle and was keen on showing it off. He and everyone else had been talking about it for most of the week even though they spend alot of time discussing motorcycles anyway. But this was like, Woah, new motorcycle! He picked me up at my house, all decked out with a brand new helmet too. He's wearing a blue soccer jersey, a huge white number three stamped across the back. He's grinning as he sits atop the brand new hunk of metal and plastic. Its a nice looking motorcycle. A brand new automatic Vario. As we drove off I asked him how much he bought it for. He didn't know, it was his dads as it turned out. he was just borrowing it. We both laugh and take the left turn onto the main road, out of my complex (neighborhood). A couple heads turn at the sight of a Bule on a motorcycle. One of the guys who works at the Sate Ayam place waves.
Habib wants to play some ball, so we go driving around his neighborhood, calling friends out of their houses and demanding their presence at the game. Of course, as usual it starts to rain. There is a debate, go inside of play anyway. We eventually go inside his friends house to wait it out. They debate about going out to buy a ball. I kinda want to but I dont want to make my stupid cold worse. Somehow I alwasy get a bug. Maybe I'm a magnet.
Its still raining. We had already eaten, talked about motorcycles and sat in Habib's friend's room. His tutor has already arrived. Its time to study. at least for Habib's friend. While he stays downstairs the rest of us go upstairs and wait out the rain. It got really quiet, Habib checking his Facebook and his little brother strumming away at the guitar. I fell asleep. I woke up to Habib saying the rain had stopped, and it was time to go. Still a little asleep I said goodbye, promised to play ball nextweekend and then climbed on the new motorcycle with Habib to go home.
It was a quiet fairly uneventful sunday. But it still was a great sunday. Next sunday we are gonna get togeather again to play soccer. Hopefully earlier in the day before the rain. Ha. Kota Hujan. Those kids in D.C weren't kidding.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Dem hooligans again.."

Everyone knows when there is gonna be a football game. Except for me. Well, I used to not realize it. You don't even have to hear from someone. You can see it. Seem them rather. All the football hooligans. The rascals. It seems like the whole of Bogor's youth and those rom all the villages surrounding it come out to see the event. I've seen them before many times I just didnt really understand who they were or what they were doing. I would see em lining the roads just standing there with flags and strange hats resembling dinosaurs. I thought they were protesters or something. I was a tad confused. But then a friend of mine told me about some crazy stories of football riots. "of course. They are football supporters"
Bogor's team colors are yellow and green and so all of em were decked out in whatever they had. Shirts, shorts, hats, the dinosaur hats, flags, facepaint anything. Of course this doesn't sound that wild. There are die-hard sports fans everywhere in the world. But these ones, Indonesian supporters are special. Alot of them come not bringing or owning a vehicle of anykind so they hitch rides from whatever they can find seeing as all the games are either in Jakarta or just ouside of central Bogor. So I was standing there, waiting for a 32 angkot to show up so i could get home on a rare hot afternoon, looking fairly ridiculous in my white oversized friday school uniform when they started gathering on the corner across the road. Just a tromp of them, hanging out waiting for something. I dont know, other friends or maybe a new truck or angkot to drive by. They kinda have a reputation for being rioting anarchists so few people pick them up. Most angkots dont pick them up and when they do there is never enough room so a few courageous kids end up on the roof, hooting and waving flags. There are alot of them now, rolling by on motorcycles, on trucks and in and ontop of the angkots. the group on the corner is bigger. Then a huge oil truck drives by. And there are kids hanging on to every inch of the thing all of em fired up and ready to go raise hell at the game. Which they do sometimes. When ive watched the games on TV ive seen the whole field is surrounded by a very tall chailink fence too keep the spectators from chucking shit onto the field. I've seen things get nasty on TV, to the point of a burning car outside of the Stadium. Guess they get pretty passionate.
I finally found an angkot and hopped in. There is another man already inside. Hes watching the hooligans muttering under his breath. He says something about recklessness. He's obviously got his opinions about them. I watched the game later. I fell asleep before I found out who won.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

This NY sound

Hes got some New York radio station blaring on his computer speakers. The guy who owns this computer. Its funny sitting in an Indonesian apartment, the street below bustling with morning life and the sounds of new york mixing in with the motorcycles and the voices of children. New York, wasn't T.I. from the south? I don't recall.
I'm sitting in my host cousin's flat. He used to stay here when he still studied at the university that is close by. Now he shares it with another student even Fandra (the cousin) has already graduated. He was in Sumatra working now he's back in Bogor looking for a job so he crashes here and at my house. Hes a good guy. The funny thing a haven't been to this place in forever. In 6 months almost. Last time I was here was the second or third day I was in Indonesia. I've been here forever. But it feels like nothing. Kinda wild how fast time goes by. But everyone knows that. It's kinda like sand or something.
Its sunday. We already went jogging at the campus track field and kicked a ball around. Then we came back to the flat for a shower, some crackers n a cup o tea on the roof watching the angkot, motorcycles and people passby. A good morning. Though i have a sore throat. But that's okay. Just swallowing is kind painful.
What should I do today? At some point I have to get a ride back into town from Fandra because the campus is kinda far away from anything. in the outskirts of Bogor. But hes asleep. And I dont know for how much longer he will be. He looks out. Probably beat after the jogging. Its allright. The morning atmosphere is fine. Though I be craving some food. Perhaps some Bubur Ayam. The ultimate breakfast food alongside eggs, toast and sausage.
I dont have any particular thing or memory to write about. Just this. Sitting in this flat, using this guy's computer, relaxing after some physical exercise. Fandra is still out cold. actually no wait he's half awake. Ok well I think we might go grab some food. cheers! oh and remember, buried treasure is only in the movies. We can find treasure anywhere around us. Dont gotta go looking under the ground. Thats for moles and worms.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plans? ha...

Its been a long time since that odd Bali post. It feels incomplete. I might try and summarize it.
My bali trip: Rain, Beaches, Coughing, AUSTRALIANS so many, Tannah Lot, some other places, cheap souviner stores and trying to surf with over-priced god awful boards. But I guess that's Kuta for ya. Bali was nice. Probably the weather and my being sick ruined its image of heaven-like qualities. But I'll be back. So much left to explore. So different than Java yet similar.

My more recent endevours. School started again! whoop. That's slightly sarcastic but it was nice becuase I got to see friends again. Physics however will never catch my eye I think.
So far the new year has been good. Though I and some others got off to a slightly bad start. Me and the other Americans plus one Indonesian had been romping around Jakarta till the wee hours of the morning, us being obsessed with seeing the new year sunrise. We did and hung out in Omar's bedroom watching it rise above the rooftops. Of course then we all fell asleep. To make things short, boys n girls should not sleep in the same room, so the host parents were slightly miffed about that. To make things a tad worse we forgot to thank the host parents for hosting us which I was our bad seeing as we kinda left in a rush, eager to get to our own beds. We came back and thanked them. But the whole morning felt like a butchery of the new year. Whatever. that was ages ago. We learned from our blunders.

Now, my more recently.
I've been really enjoying myself. I find myself eating so much and food is so good. I've discovered at least 10 new delishous places to eat and for not much more than a dollar. It's absolutely ridiculous and awesome at the same time. I dont think I will be able to go back to expensive food.
I've also found that people can be very kind and very friendly despite the newness of a friendship. I was in Bandung last weekend with an AFS volunteer (for those who dont know his name its stephan) and after the first day of watching gorgeous countryside from a train, having a taxi driver drop us off now where near our hotel (after overpaying him considerably) tromping around the sketchy alleys and streets surrounding the bandung train station looking for our place to stay, we decided to climb a mountain to see the massive crater at the top. And indeed it is massive (i will post pictures to show). We were a wee bit famished so we got some Mie/Baso in a little shack at the edge of this crater. And as Stephan warned about an hour before, it started dumping, in massive quantities. The outside seating quickly turned into a small lake and everyone joined us in the shack, a couple and a family. One man decided to stay out protected by a umbrella. It was quite the image, the rain pouring down and this old man smoking a fag and sipping his tea, sitting cross-legged on his chair so as not to get his feet wet, seeing as the ground was covered in at least a couple inches of water.
The rain continued for a couple hours and eventually the young couple decided to introduce themselves by buying us a couple glasses of this spicey tea which was nice. It was genuinely cold on the crater top. We chit-chatted for a little while and eventually he offered us a ride back down the mountain after us telling him that we intended to return to Bogor by bus that afternoon. He was like "sure ya, ikut!". we ended up being stuck for two hours in traffic going down from the mountain back to Bandung. and of course they didn't know where the bus station was. Bless em for being kind people but they were from a different city. We spent another three trekking around the city looking for the bus station. We finally got there and we tried to pay him for his genorosity. He wouldn't accept it and even walked us onto the bus making sure we got home safely. And we had just met him that day. me and stephan were fairly amazed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bali impressions

Bali. The land of surf, sun, rice patties and Hindu temples. Even the flora is greener it seems. A paradise. Of course when I went I was met with polluted ocean water and an endless amount of rain. And the place has been invaded by the Aussies seeing as Bali is like Mexico to Americans, a next-door neighbor where responsibilities go out the window. I guess 80% of the bules that come here are Australian. Not that this is a bad thing. Just something I noticed. Anyways me having a cold didn't help either. To top it off I got an ear infection. That's not to say I didn't like it. In the few short days that I was there I learned alot, like that the Balinese calender is different than the rest of Indonesia. A month is closer to 35 days and a year somewhere around 14 months. Not sure how it works. I also found out that Balinese Hindus do it beef, cow whatever, while those in India do not seeing as the cow is sacred to them. Balinese Hinduism is a combo of the religion and local beliefs which result in a very unique and intriguing result. MORE LATER. I promise