Friday, September 18, 2009


Who are you? Are you family or a family friend? I have never seen you before. What are you doing here. The man was small. He looked friendly though. He had tatoos on his arms. He was sitting in the maid's house watching TV. The maids are back at their homes for Lebaran. I had some dirty clothes that my mom had told me to put by the washer. I poked my head through the doorway.
He smiles. He seems nice. A brief awkward moment. I don't know how to say what I want in Bahasa. He points to the clothes.
I struggle to find some words that would remotely make sense.
"Iya. Ini di mana?"
He points down the room towards the washer and says something. I get the point though. I set up on the rack next to the box-like machine. He stands there grinning. He looks like a good fellow look despite the tattoos. If he was shooting for the tough-guy look he couldn't really pull it off. I still don't know his name. He goes back to watching TV. I went back upstairs. I later asked Dimas who he was. He said his name was Didi. Who is he? He didn't know how to explain his relationship with us. I asked if he was family, friend or like a servant? He said no to all of those. He couldn't put it into words. Didi the mystery man. For now I'll call him the friendly person who lives across the yard from me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mac D? At school?

The last day of school for two weeks was on Saturday. Normally YPHB doesn't have school on Saturday's but this was special. We started late, round 9:00 I think, and then hung around watching speakers and more videos. They also announced which groups of students had won all these contests for various things like best song, speech, music prayer. Stuff along those lines. Some friends of mine won which was fun. A lot of cheering and whooping from our end of the room. I also went to go see all the King and Queen of Bogor competitors give their speeches. It's Bogor's version of Mr & Mrs Universe. Does such a thing exist? I think it does. Anyway, you get the idea. Some of the kids competing were from YPHB so we went to cheer them on. It was fun, causing a raucous but in a good way. There were some other kids there that I knew. They are from my school but because they were working on organizing the event they didn't come today. They are pretty cool those kids. Most of them can't speak very good English so it's a fun challenge talking with them. I'll ask a question in Bahasa and they will respond and I will try to understand. I get the general idea. Most of the time. Haha.
The language is coming along. At this point I can understand more than I can say. Bits of a conversation between my host family finally makes sense! I looked back over my journal the other day and found a list of vocab words that I had written to remember. They all seemed so basic and fundamental. I felt a little sense of accomplishment.
Anyways, we stayed at the school till buka puasa. And guess what they served us at school? Some good American food. Mac D. Well actually it isn't all that American. they serve rice and chicken mostly instead of the beefy burgers we are used to. Imagine that. enough Mac D to feed the entire school. that's alot of the stuff. after that everyone cruised outta there. school is out, for two weeks. whoop! but you already knew that. me and Dimas went home after that. gave another kid a ride home. I've forgotten his name though. That happens too much. Me forgetting names and everything.
I felt pretty sick on Sunday morning. I woke up and knew before I even tried to stand up that I was gonna puke. Which I did. and i did for the whole rest of the day (I apologize for the lack of proper capitalization of letters and stuff. the keyboard's shift key don't work too well). it was a blur of sleeping, puking, sipping on tea and my host dad telling me not to push myself. the next day i was better. Apparently it had been from me not eating enough and then eating alot. I guess my stomach doesn't like the fasting schedule too much. Or maybe I didn't drink enough. Who knows? Anyways Im fine now. Though I would like to get out of the house tomorrow. I have been resting and getting 100 % better again inside and the only time I went out was to buy a movie, some coffee and a bottle of water. Mostly cuz I was restless. It was nice, walking around my neighborhood to get to the store. The security guards are friendly, as well as these funny men who were sitting on the side of the road. As I walked back from the store one of them began talking to me in Indonesian. I found I understood him and we had a very short brief in-motion conversation about where I cam from and where I lived in Yasmin. I like it here. Indonesia. I like it.

Friday, September 11, 2009


The exchange student experiance is quite ride. A wild crazy ride which you don't have much control of at first. New things, tastes, smells and ideas are thrust at you by dozens of hands. You try and deal with it. You're excited and exhausted at the same time. You want to do everything and be everywhere but you need to learn that you are here for a year. You have time for everythng. For now you can relax. I lay on my bed one afternoon, debating if I wanted to get up and do something. I was so tired but I still feel like I'm wasting time if I'm not doing something. I didn't want to get up. I decided in the end that I would sleep now so I would have energy later. mmm. Dinner. I look forward to it. And the delicious sweets and food that we eat just after we break the fast. And with some food on my mind I fell asleep.

About sleep. Apparantly I talk to crash cans. Dimas said I stood up and began talking really fast mumbled English to the little blastic bin. Dimas tried talking to me but I gave him a similar response and then proceed to declare that I was sleepy and pass out on the Fandra's (Dimas cousin) mattress instead of my own. When I woke up in the morning I couldn't remember any of it. My host family thought it was hilarious. So did I. I love things like that. My host mom said we should lock the doors just in case I try and wander out into the street. I wasn't sure if she was joking or not.

Did you know there are rats in my yard? Big ones too. Like huge and fatty things with tails. They only comeout at night and chase eachother around the fish pool. You can hear them during dinner. They don't come into the house or near us for that matter. They stay in their area, we stay in ours. It all works out. Everybody's happy.
Here is some irony. My last blog post. Funny how I went from talking about fancy apartments to begging children on the street. Indonesia is like that though. Contrast is everywhere. Thriving Jakarta skyscrapers tower over slums and shacks. That kind of stuff you see everyday. And you get used to it. Sometimes I stop and think about it though.

Photography class was a blast. I probably wouldn't call it a class. It's an extra-cirricular activity offered at my school. My friend talked it up and said I should try it. I agreed. Plus I enjoy photography. I decided I'll see how it went.
It was pretty fun. Pretty much a group of students that I already sem-knew (plus my friend) hung out after school until this professional photographer showed up (at least I think he was pro. He seemed like it). He then proceeded to teach us some new tricks that we could do with our cameras. After that we were let loose around the school campus to try out our newly gained knowledge. It was a good experiance. I made some new friends and got to know people I had already met previously. Got names straight and stuff. I'm terriable with names. I hear a name and it goes straight out the window. But I'll remember the face anywhere. I should work on that. Anyways, photography was goofy, fun and great. Well, maybe not for some of the girls. At YPHB on fridays and during lebaran week the girls are required to wear their headscarves (it is an Islamic school afterall). These were the ones who normally don't wear them during the week. They got caught with their scarves off by one of the teachers and she made them run a couple laps around the basketball court. It was all fun though. They laughed about it and no harsh words were exchanged between them and the teacher. Well I don't know. I can't speak Bahasa.

Tommrow I've been asked to go to the English club and help out with whatever they do. I'm not sure what I will do. Besides help them with pronuciation and stuff. Besides from that just talk in English. I guess I'll see tommrow. Afterwards me and Ika are going to hangout. Should be fun. Maybe Dimas my host brother will come along. I haven't asked him yet if he wants to. Ha! I just remembered, school is almost out for two weeks! Just today (I am writing this at school). Today's going to be long though. All the students are breaking the fast here and I guess the school is providing all the food. But we have to hangaround unil then. I have no idea what we're gonna do all day. No one does. My friend Yuri said in response to my question of "what are we gonna do today" "sleeping"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Apartments, rain and kids.

Here is something I didn't know (and you don't either). My family actually ones a rather nice apartment in Jakarta. I went with my family's driver, Mr. Udien to pick up my host dad at the airport in Jakarta today. He had been off on some business trip on some island (I forget the name) east of Java. Afterward we stopped by the apartment. It's actually two, which I was a little confused about since there were enough rooms in the first one to house the entire family, plus my host sister who lives and goes to school in central Java. It was pretty nice. very artistic, modern furniture and room design but with a warm flare like the Manchester United bed sheets in my host brother's room (they are obsessed with M.U down here). To top all of this off, it is on the ground floor of the ridiculously tall complex and a moments walk away from a pool complete with fountains and everything. Being a doctor and doing government work most pay off (my host parents jobs).

I love it when it rains here. The Indonesians probably think I'm a little odd. Everyone goes inside to sit it out but I always wanna go out in it. I think one of the maids was giving me kinda funny looks when I was standing out in thick of it. It's so heavy here. One time me and Dimas were at his elementary school reunion and the atmosphere dumped everything it had down on Bogor. The restaurant where the reunion was at was up on a hill at the road up to the place was like a river. We could see down to the actual river and it had become a mud bath. Not that it was flooding just that the once solid dusty riverbanks that had supported the odd rickety house and the like weren't looking too solid anymore. Nothing happened though. Everything was fine, no collapsed huts or anything. The roads become filthy sometimes when it rains though seeing as how dusty they are as well as a lot of wet dirt and mud along with garbage. Haha, I must be giving you a great image of Bogor. Don't believe what you might think, Bogor is great. The combination of reddish/brown tile roofs and dazzling green trees are fantastic. It's also not flat either. There are these odd intriguing ravine-like places where neighborhoods are clustered.

That's a little something about rain. It rains alot for being the summer season right now.

There are these kids that jump into the Angkot sometimes. These ones were pretty young. Maybe 7-8. I was with Riska and we were on the way to meet my host brother at a mall. One of the boys (two of them) played a small grungy guitar while the other passed out little slips of paper to put money in. He gave us all pleading looks. I've seen dozens of pairs of kids like these. Riska says they don't get the money that we give them. It's like something from Slum-dog Millionaire except its right there. She says they have to give the money to someone who lets them sleep somewhere and gives them whatever food he sees fit. She said she never gives them money. Instead she reached into her bag and pulled out a bag of chips that we had bought for the movie earlier. She handed the kid that instead. At the next stop after collecting nothing except for chips they jumped out and wandered elsewhere.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Communication is everything. Almost every problem has something to do with miscommunication or a lack of communication. Things get fed through a wire and become warped until they are totally different than what it originally was. People get fed by their own emotions which are a result of these misinterpretations and make situations worse. Confusion. Gaaah. Let's all be friends.

Some craziness. wow. Tension is no fun. Especially between people you know at a party, which is supposed to be fun. Sheesh. 

I had an interesting day. I got told I practically flunked a test, was being made fun of right infront of my face and that I was being forced to practice Islam (which I am not). Again misinterpretation. Frankly I was hot and wanted to wash my face which happens to be what Muslims do before prayer. And as for the test, the teacher's words were (summerized) "you didn't do well at all. good luck this year." Well fuck thanks for the encouragement. Maybe it is just me, but it came off as if it was a goodluck that wasn't meant for some that succeeds. I might be confusing. Maybe I am just doing exactly what I talked about, more misinterpreting. I was so tired by the end of the day that I had no energy for anything. I'm afraid I might have come off as irritable. Which I was to some degree. Hopefully that didn't put anyone off.

What a crazy confusing week. Looking forward to the weekend and cooling my head. Mentally and physically.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Those random things that come to mind

Some kids were doing push-ups on the side of the road. They had been at it for a while I think. Sweat was pouring down their faces and each push-up took more and more effort. A police man stood over them, watching them toil in the dust of a Bogor city street. Some on-lookers laughed and giggled. "Why are you doing push-ups" I asked to the general audience within the car. "they were racing. Illegally." I thought that was funny in a sense. Instead of throwing the law, and technicalities about what is legal or not onto the teens, the cop made them do push-ups in front of everyone. Just thought it was interesting. And slightly humorous. I don't think I've ever seen a cop in the U.S use their authority in that sort of way.
Well, here I am, trying to summarize the past three weeks. I haven't touched on my entry into Indonesia (except for that warm greeting sign), first week in Bogor, LOC or school, the key component to this exchange program (my visa depends on me going to school so school basically enables me to live here for the next 11 1/4 months). Maybe I'll start with Indonesia itself, Jakarta and my first week in Bogor.

Indonesia is a vast, Jakarta is sprawling and Bogor is a small. After the first week or two I knew a very vague general layout of the city. Of course there are still areas I haven't been to. Every time I climb the stairs at school to get to my classroom I see this flat expanse of city that is unexplored. It's hard to think that I'm on one of many islands in vast archipelago actually. I didn't see the ocean at all in Jakarta, and Bogor is inland. That's not to say I dislike it here. On the contrary its been a blast. Within my first two days in Indonesia I ate cow tongue and squid. Not too fond of the tongue. A rather unappetizing texture. The squid was good though.
The initial orientation camp was an interesting experience. All of us Americans were jet-lagged, being bombarded by a new language and culture, and tired as fuck. Some of us slept through meals. It was fresh though, and new. I was excited despite my disoriented self. Indonesia surprised me. I half-expected it to be like Thailand. Which it isn't at all. The language for example, it has no distinct Asian tone which I expected. Chinese, Japanese, Korean I think and Thai have very distinct and classic Asian sounds. But Bahasa (Indonesian) sounds different, not typical. I don't know how to describe it. It still sounds Asian but not distinctly. It has underlying tones that are very different and unexpected. Hmmmm. I have too many ideas bouncing around. My writing might be a little bit ramblish. But I am pretty sleepy. Ramadan and fasting really takes the energy out of you. Sleepy all the time and you never get angry or upset cuz frankly, you can't. Anyways, I will write more so read if you like it so far.