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The quiet kampung; the daily life YOGYAKARTA - It is a very normal Thursday afternoon when I sit down on the veranda. A light rain shower crosses my path here after a long and humid day on which it didn't want to raining the first place. The rain was not enough to clean the humid air and so tomorrow will be another of those warm and slow days. Last year the wet season only lasted until the middle of March, but now there is still rain on a regular base. Not a changing climate, but just a slight change in ocean temperatures. As far as on the other side of the world this impacts tropical areas as well, because weather here isn't that monotonous as it looks like when you see those holiday pictures with a blue sky. For sure there is much sun, but there are clouds as well and rain of course, even during the dry season. Maybe it's just a different type of rain, more light instead of a complete tropical downpour.

This day started with a nice blue sky, not too blue however. When it started to get cloudy I was on my way to the post office. There I still had to pick up some stamps. Launched officially two days ago, but then - can it ever go right - not available at all post offices including the one in Yogyakarta that has a philatelist department. What certainly helps in these cases is having some contacts; when entering the post office two days ago she already knew I was looking for those stamp that hadn't arrived yet. I didn't even make it to the counter before she already told me that I had arrived in vain. That is something she did in a perfect way because half an hour later I headed home with some other stamps. She would keep some for me if demand was high. Demand wasn't high so I could even bring with me some more stamps. Fine too. On the way home it started to get humid again, there was no wind at all.

Only during the afternoon a slight breeze started to come in. Remarkably nice, so it must have been raining at a distance. I didn't know how much rain by just feeling the wind and it was no guarantee for rain as well. That made me think that it would stay dry here for the day. Now my freshly bought flowers and small plants are waiting in the rain, at least until tomorrow or the day after, because I don't want to be forced to get those into the ground here. That is somewhat of a luxury for me here. There is not a single person who tells me that those have to be put in the ground directly, especially if I maintain them with some water every few days so they don't dry out.

Quiet neighborhood

And there I am, somewhere in northern Yogyakarta. In the more than ten months that I am here I have had many questions. In general I can be proud in telling that I am here out of free will to see if it is possible to have a life here as well, maybe even better than in the Netherlands. Of course you have to dare, but if it just doesn't work out at the end, then I am still able to return to the Netherlands anyway. That is something I have as a back-up. There is no war going on, so I am not forced out and the chances of getting into a war are not that big anymore nowadays. Of course it is not my intention to return to the Netherlands anytime soon, outside a holiday of course.

A brightly colored but common flower in the garden.
A brightly colored but common flower in the garden.

The northern side of the city - like many parts of the city - is crowded with students. Around me are dozens of kos with hundreds of students. Not all of them actually are still studying; many of them stick here after they have finished their school in the hope to find a job in this beloved city. Others got connected with the city in another way. They have spent some time with a partner while not thinking and are now attached to a third person, a baby indeed. Others again are indekos here because they have a job here and 'going home' is too far f a drive, whether daily or weekly. Enough people don't see their partners and family just as often as I do.

Because it's a suburb of a fairly large city, facilities here are pretty good. Power is almost always available. Times it goes black are rare nowadays, much better at least than a few years ago. My internet is from XL and is directly connected to my laptop. I can use is everywhere in the city with reasonable speeds. Maybe it doesn't sound that important, but here in the city there are quite a lot of rich students which want to be seen with their laptops in a coffee-house, restaurant or one of the three big malls that the city already has. Being seen with just a motorbike and mobile phone is not enough anymore nowadays. A laptop is a must as well.

My laptop works fine on the veranda as well, I don't need to go to a mall for that. It saves me at least a too expensive drink which I can grab from my own fridge as well. Once in a while I like to have a beer, but there is no need to get that one in the mall. Not because it's too expensive, it is not available at al. For beer you have to go to some run-down tourist location, upscale club or to a Chinese restaurant. That Chinese restaurant is just around the corner here, with the motorbike, and serves very nice food. Thos tourist spots however are mostly on the other side of the railroad towards the south. That is somewhat far away for a beer if I can say so.

Other things are easy to obtain as well. There are many different warung's in the area which offer a great variety of dishes. Not all of them have fine taste, but that doesn't really matter as there is more than enough choice. Everything can be done on foot, even during the hottest part of the day when the sun is direct above you. When I bring my own dish or bowl that will not be left behind as well, however that is not the most important thing in the world. Tomorrow is another day, even for paying it. However it's just a few thousand Rupiah, I don't want to do that myself. I just pay when I leave. No problem with that as well of course.

Noise is mainly related to motorbikes which are louder than the birds here. There are still plenty of birds here. They are really here and with a big garden full of green plants and trees in front of my house they have increased in number as well. Mainly the recently planted bamboo is growing rapidly, giving small birds the chance to pick it's small leaves to be used building their own house at some distance from here. Of course there are chickens as well, but luckily these smelly shit-factories don't fly because that would create a nasty situation in my own garden. Several times a day, but that is not according to a strict schedule and number of times a day, a big airplane flies low over the area here, with a thunder-like sound that sometimes rocks the houses. Wheels outside, ready to land. It just depends on where the wind is blowing from and where the thundershowers are located.

What many people ask me - of course - is how I can deal with the mosques here. It seems to be a hot subject. If it bothers you, simply stay home is what I tend to say directly. That is really my first and direct opinion. Of course you can also look for a place in the Indonesian archipelago where there are less Moslems, but to explain that entirely to someone asking that question, nah. Indonesia is a country full of Moslems, however that is true for a big part, other groups are left out completely to make it more easy. It doesn't bother me, however I do hear it. The most early call for prayer far before dawn I tend not to hear because I'm sleeping. It doesn't wake me, that's for sure.

When heavy clouds form, they might cause a cool breeze in the hot afternoon hours.
When heavy clouds form, they might cause a cool breeze in the hot afternoon hours.

Six days a week uniformed schoolchildren cross the streets twice a day. Most on a bicycle, if possible with three on a row. It is always a somewhat funny moment when they come along. By now they know there is a foreigner living, but if he happens to be outside in the garden, then it's always exciting to covertly take a look in the garden or to yell something. Laughter is what follows when they find out that the foreigner is able to reply their calls for attention. The youngest of children do their best effort to be some as quick as possible. The huge motorbikes that overtake them at short distance are things they want to avoid at all cost. There doesn't seem to be any reasonable caution for these kids, but until now everything has gone well.

Every once in a while I still get a scare when I am sitting down at my veranda in a relaxed state. Then a silent mobile salesman walks by which starts to produce a yell just completely unexpected. He just wants to make clear what he is selling. The sol sepatu (shoe-maker) is good in doing this. With his sheets of rubber and toolbox he walks many kilometers during one working day, warning people sometimes that he is in the area to help people out. The woman who is selling sate is obviously different, from far you will hear her calls. Several streets away I already know that she is about to come around the corner. That gives me plenty of time to call her. Nice, and fresh as well.

So after all it's not that boring after all here. Of course there are things that are less nice. Fortunately I do have a nice fence nowadays, which keeps beggars and musicians outside of my garden. Because they can't see me, they don't stop here as well. Who thinks about making noise at times that people are having their afternoon nap? And even ask money for it as well. After the earthquake last year most beggars suddenly came from Bantul. When the Merapi volcano is active again I'm sure all those people have just moved to the higher parts of the volcano, because they are just so unlucky. Of would that just be a claim as well? Ooh well, it doesn't really matter in fact.

The woman that collects the glass bottles, also the green ones from the beer, knows when she has to drop by. Early in the morning there must be someone at home and awake as well. Then other people will follow asking for those same bottles, but they all know I just gave them so someone before them. I would try it as well if I was one of them obviously, but trying it every month is not really needed for me. I walk back to my green garden back to the veranda. There I sit down in the simple bamboo chair. I grab my laptop from the chair besides me and before I know it, another day has ended.

Posted in Travel @ 08 June 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

User icon of Basil406
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This article and the 2-part 'Drinking Coffee in the Kampung' are brilliantly written. It pulls on my sentimental chord on Yogyakarta which I visited in 2004. Emoticon: Yes!

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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