Monday, September 30, 2013

What we are NOT getting up to

We are not eating chocolate!

We are not roaming the shops and spending money!

We are not buying hand knotted carpets!

We are not indulging in salon treatments!

We are not having ANY fun together!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Aladdin's Cave

We were fabric shopping in the blok M area of Jakarta. Pasar Mayestic is one of the city's textile centres, a metropolis bustling with buildings, cars, people, street vendors, and shop upon shop of fabric. It's grubby and you have to do some searching, but it's worth the visit.
Janette is soon to be a Mother-of-the-Bride, and we went searching for the perfect material in the perfect colour for her to take back to Perth for the creation of the perfect dress! Of course, there can be no sneak peaks of her purchase. Suffice to say, it took less time than expected and we found something very special.
With this task ticked on the list, we could wander, and I took the girls to the haberdashery shop - a real fire trap absolutely full to bursting with every imaginable sewing notion! And now you must picture kids in a candy shop!

Haberdashery hanging from every inch of ceiling space, wall space, counter space, floor space!

Buttons in rainbows of colour lining the walls. (What you see behind the girls is such a small sampling of the walls of colour.) Jacqui chose some for a new blouse and I almost felt sorry for her trying to decide which to choose from the hundreds and thousands available!

I found a display of roll upon roll of ribbon. I chose a few metres and the assistant who cut them happily - well sort of - obliged me with a photo.

We travelled next to the tailor with our purchases. Here he and Janette, using pictures on the iPad and her new doodling app, with lots of hand gestures, hatch a design...

...and negotiate a price and finishing date.

Jacqui is fitted for her pretty new blouse (stay tuned), and she got to be the super model for some other creations this tailor is working on.

So all in all, a productive outing! We return to our tailor friend tomorrow to pick up our garments and we are looking forward to the big reveal. Perhaps we will convince Jacqui to do some more modelling and I will be able to show you!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cooking Class

Today we are learning to make Beef Rendang.
Step 1. Develop a rapport with your teacher!
Our teacher today is Lily. She has worked in our home since we moved to Cilandak. Lily has a winning personality. She is friendly, cheerful, thoughtful, and she can make a killer Rendang.
This morning Janette and Jacqui have enjoyed a little language lesson, have shared stories as they have become acquainted with one another - women can get to know one another regardless of a language barrier.

Lily has a 2 hour commute to our home. This morning I had asked her to get our fresh ingredients from her local traditional Market before work, so I believe she had to be up before the crack of dawn, 4:30am in fact!

Step 2. Get to work!
A beautiful assortment of ingredients make up the fragrant Bumbu powder (coriander, turmeric, white pepper, fenugreek, star anise) and the coconut milk base for the beef (fresh bay leaves, kafir lime leaves, red chilli, galangal, lemongrass, candlenuts, garlic, red onions, ginger, tamarind). The girls were impressed with Lily's artistic arrangements for the photos! She certainly pays attention to the details!

Smash the lemongrass and puree the spices and fill the house with the promise of an amazing treat come dinnertime!

Into the saucepan it goes to simmer and even boil away for a few hours. Here, Janette indulges in the heady, pungent aroma.

Step 3. Enjoy! Late this afternoon we headed out for a bit of retail therapy. How nice it was to return home, well after the dinner hour actually, to our delicious meal, ready and waiting for us. "Enak Sekali" indeed!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WELCOME to your home away from home!

Have I expressed adequately how delighted Rob and I are when we have the blessing/opportunity/privilege of hosting visitors?
My dear friends Jacqui and Janette have travelled to Jakarta to be with us for the next few days. Hurray!!
Jacqui arrived on Monday. Talk about a bright spark lighting up our home! What a treasure she is.

Here we are enjoying the pool from the comfort of our kitchen window, and having fun catching up with one another, picking up from where we last left off.

We waited expectantly for Janette's arrival the following day. A trip to the flower Market, a good brisk walk in the 36 degree heat and humidity, lunch out, sunset on the balcony, dinner out (again!), a productive sewing session, and day 1 passed quickly and pleasantly!

Brave Janette had no welcoming committee awaiting her at the airport. Rob had to head out of town so he left early for his flight and there was not enough time for our driver, Pak Asri, to return to our house, pick up Jax and I, and make the return trip to the airport in time for Janette's flight. So Janette was on the look out for....

...our driver Asri, who met her with a smile and brought her home to us safely. No doubt the 60+ minute drive passed amicably because Janette knew all about his family and had a few key Indonesian phrases under her belt by the time she arrived.

Ahhh, she arrives bearing gifts! Delicious Aussie chocolate! Thank you.

Check back for posts on our shenanigans!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Drive Thru Shopping!

Today I bought avocados from a street vendor while sitting in the car, paying through the window! (Which is different from paying through the nose, although I believe I did pay the "orang asing" price, rather than the local's price.)

When we lived in the States 20+ years ago, I remember being surprised by the drive through banking in Charlestown Rhode Island. Again, via the car window, you could place your money and deposit slip into a plastic tube, place the tube into a pressurised Shute, and it would fly off to the teller inside the bank building. One time in my haste, I dropped the tube then had to squeeeeze out the car door, crawl around beside the car and reeeeeach under for the rolling tube, all the while listening to young Robbie, from his car seat (alarmed) chastise me for my mistake! Buying avocados from the car window is far less stressful.

Much later, we arrived in Perth and noticed people could purchase their alcohol from any drive through "bottle shop". No convenience oriented banking at that time, but buying your stubbies? - too easy mate!

But enough reminiscing.
I do realise drive-thru shopping isn't really out of the ordinary, but I was impressed on a recent trip to Bogor, with all the lovely produce that can be purchased from the ease of the car window here in Indonesia. If you need anything for tonight's dinner, just let me know!


Sweet potatoes... Our driver, Pak Asri (pictured) bought them hot and freshly roasted from the oven.



Corn on the cob...


...yes, bunnies. I think they are for sate! (sate kelinci)

Not sure what these veggies are, turnip??

Anyone who has stayed with me knows I am fastidious about cleaning my fruit and veg. Here is an example of why!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy, Smiling Faces

Next to the waterway,

next to the garbage dump,

live the lovely, friendly people of kampung Luar Batang.
I thought it seemed important to put these two posts back to back- the kampung in all it's unfortunate glory, but now the people whose lives revolve around this kampung - their fortune or misfortune so tied to this location.

We were encouraged to take lots of pictures, but to be sure to show the digital image to the one posing. This was not hard for me!

So please let me introduce you to some beautiful, smiling kids from the fishing village! As is becoming typical of my thinking here in Indonesia, I look at their faces and wonder why I was born where I was, why I am part of the Collins clan and not born to a poverty stricken woman living in a Jakarta slum? Could it not just as easily, have been me on the opposite end of the camera?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Part Two

Part Two, as promised.
Not having enough...
Today as I rode comfortably in the back of a Mercedes taxi to the airport, I saw a woman wading into the filth and garbage of a river bordering the toll road. It took me by surprise. She was naked and in full view of passing vehicles, but most shocking was the idea of her bathing in this contaminated water. She will make herself sick! I wondered, does she have any other option for bathing? Would she even be aware of the health risk? Does she have access to a clean water source? I don't know.
This glimpse of the river bather brought to mind another recent shock when a friend of mine here in Jakarta mentioned to me that she has no hot water system in her home. My friend knows the risks of river bathing, of course, and her family of 6 doesn't have to - they have options for showering, but they these options don't include hot water.
Next thought? A typical scenario in my own Perth home - that annoying experience when the person who showers before you 'takes' all the hot water! That's my understanding of "not having enough". My only shower shock is when someone turns on the tap and the shower stream suddenly runs cold! - another first world example of not having enough! What a relative concept!

The following photos were taken in a fishing village slum called Luar Batang near the Sunda Kelapa port.
After the fun and reasonable thrill of the water taxi ride, we rocked up to this. I don't have a lot of commentary. Just have a close look.

I honestly thought, "I don't want to get out of this boat!" (what I do not know cannot hurt me)
Everything is dumped into the river. It is their garbage disposal.

It is also where residents wash and do their laundry.

Fish drying on a rooftop. Is this people food or pet food or both?

This kitten, no bigger than a brick, was quite ill-looking.

The children though, were so beautiful. Wait until you see their smiles further down the posting track!

Someone clever should develop a scratch and sniff app for photographs. Without the smells (and the sounds) of this environment, these photos are incomplete.
Truly, the residents of Luar Batang do not seem to have enough. Our guide, is from this community. He grew up here, he lives here now. He has an education, he speaks 3 languages, he freelances with the Indonesian Heritage Society, so I tell myself that there must be some opportunity to rise above this kind of situation and succeed??? Convincing myself like this seems to help me cope with what I am seeing in some way.
Living in Jakarta, this is now my back yard, so to speak. I really don't know what to make of it, or what to do. A very inadequate response is to hope, that the next time I am tempted to feel hard-done-by, I will remember this experience and put my "need" into perspective. As my sister Kathy says, "tell yourself 'I have enough!' ".