This week I have had various sleepovers at teachers houses. Other than the sleepover at Pak Husin’s house (principal), I have also had a night with Pak Asep’s family and am now with Bu Nila, one of the English teachers from SMKN 29 Jakarta.
Both Bu Nila & Pak Asep live, what feels like a long way from school, but is actually only about 30km. Because of the traffic, a journey which would take 20 mins on the Fleurieu, takes between 1-2 hours here. They also both live in housing estates, although because the one Bu Nila and her husband live in is very posh, it is called a ‘komplek’ (complex). One other similarity between Pak Asep’s & Bu Nila’s places is the bumpy road just before you reach their house. Once you leave the main roads, the smaller roads that connect them are very neglected and have the most impressive pot holes I have ever seen. I am beginning to understand why there are so many cars in Jakarta with high wheel bases! Like a 4 wheel drive but are only 2 wheel drive.
When I stayed with Pak Asep, once we arrived, I was invited to sit in the sitting room and immediately pressed to eat food. His wife had made a snack for us from very small starchy bananas which had been boiled till soft. Very interesting flavour. I was also offered fruit from the fruit bowl which included the cutest tiny bananas, star fruit and pears. The bananas were barely the length of a finger! While we were sitting chatting, their youngest son who is 2.5yrs, sat with us. He was not the slightest bit shy for a child of that age, and confidently spoke in front of me. He asked for a banana (the perfect size for his small hands) and when he finished, he would ask,”Lagi?” and every time his parents answered, ‘Boleh!’ Considering it was just before dinner, had it been in Australia, I doubt that his parents would have happily supplied him with 5 bananas! Pak Asep also has a daughter who is starting high school in July and a son who is still at primary school. Their youngest son was a ‘bonus’ to use their words! Several teachers at school also have 3 children with the youngest significantly younger than the older 2, so it seems to be common for families to have an unexpected ‘bonus’ addition to their families!
For dinner Pak Asep and his family took me to a nearby restaurant. The patrons sit on the floor at low tables in an open room over a fish pond. No wonder the youngest son had repeatedly said ‘mancing’ (fishing) in between asking for bananas! Pak’s wife ordered the food while Pak Asep organised fishing rods for the boys. The fishing rod was a miniature fishing rod with fishing line and a hook at the end. They used nasi (rice) for bait and actually caught something that looked like a tiny guppy! While waiting for our meal, the drinks arrived. Pak Asep & I had a kelapa muda (young coconut) whille the others had juices. The food then arrived and it was delicious. We had roasted gurami fish with gerodok (raw vegetables covered in peanut sauce), sayur asam (vegetables in a slightly sour tamarind soup), cap cai (Chinese vegetables), and sambal.
After dinner we dropped in on Pak Caca, one of the leadership team from SMKN 29 Jakarta. He lives very close to Pak Asep and he was delighted that we dropped in. Pak Caca loves to make people laugh and by the time we left, my cheeks were aching and the children said the tummies hurt from all his funny stories. Before we left, he invited me to take a tour of his house. His house is very impressive. It is a double story house with the parents downstairs and the children upstairs. While visiting Pak Caca, I was pressed to eat constantly! My trip to Jakarta has been one gastronomical feast after another with the in between time filled with snacks. Because Jakarta is a true melting pot of people from all over Indonesia, whoever I visit insists I try their local food. Pak Caca comes from a Sundanese village 6 hours away and he just happened to have ikan pepes (spiced roasted fish) from his village which I HAD to try! Even though I was still full, I had a mouthful and it was truly to die for. It was goldfish and had been slow roasted for so many hours that the bones were edible. I think that was the first time I have eaten goldfish and I am glad I was able to taste it before I knew what it was!
Pak Asep & his family live in a small 2 bedroom house. The plan was that I would share the older daughters room. I went to bed thankfully early and after a great nights sleep, I woke up to find that I was still alone! The trundle bed was just as it had been when I went to sleep! Apparently she had fallen asleep in her parents bed so they left her there! I found Pak Asep asleep with his youngest son on the mattress in front of the tv where apparently his son had insisted they sleep! This family’s sleeping arrangement might sound odd to a westerner but it is actually perfectly normal here. Here in Bu Nila’s house, they also have a 2 bedroom house, however her younger son (10 years) sleeps in his parents room because he hates sleeping alone!
I arrived late yesterday afternoon at Bu Nila’s house after waiting for hours at school for Bu Nila’s husband who just returned from Jambi, Sumatra, so that we could travel home together in the same taxi. The taxi ride gave Bu Nila’s husband a chance to ask me all the questions that I get asked whenever I first meet anyone. Oh, you can speak Indonesian, Where did you learn Indonesian, What do you do in Australia? (Oh no wonder you speak Indonesian!), Do all schools teach Indonesian? How many children do you have? What are they studying? How long are you staying in Jakarta? When do you fly home to Australia? plus several more. The funniest ones are also when they ask me several questions before realising that we are both speaking Indonesian and then exclaiming in astonishment,”Oh! Can you speak Indonesian?” If the person is youngish, I joke with them by saying,”Sedikit saja” (just a tiny bit)!
As always, as soon as we reached their house, I was invited to sit in the sitting room and immediately offered a drink and some food. As I had been sitting all afternoon, I would have much preferred going for a stroll around the ‘komplek’ but that is not the way things are done here! Guests must be welcomed with a seat in the best room in the house and then served food and drinks.
flakey and delicious.
After we had finished with the formalities, I was shown to my room and given time to have a mandi. Bu Nila’s bathroom is more modern than most in that there isn’t a bak full of water, there is a western flushing toilet and a shower too. Also there is a soap holder! There are still signs though that it is an Indonesian bathroom and the biggest indicators are the lack of toilet paper, a huge bucket full of water complete with gayung and huge multicoloured moth balls in the drain! Even the hand basin outside the bathroom has moth balls in the drain:
The mothballs are there because not only does their fragrance mask bathroom odours but they are also used to repel cockroaches.
For dinner, we went to a masakan Padang restaurant which thankfully is only 5 minutes away. This Padang Restaurant was different to the one I went to in Jember where I had to serve myself. Here, you choose a table and then a waiter appears with multiple plates stacked up his arm.
Here he has offloaded half of them already!
On each plate is a serve of the food available. The table is not big enough to fit them all, so he stacks them on top of each other on the table! The dishes are mostly meat but we also were offered eggs, a beautiful jackfruit curry and some boiled cassava leaves. There were several fish dishes, one had very pale meat which looked just like chicken. All absolutely delicious.
Each plate that had been touched was added to the bill and as we had only had a tiny bit of one of the dishes, Bu Nila told them ‘bungkus’ (wrap) it. As we walked through the restaurant I snapped a few photos for you!
We were home by 7:30pm and I was delighted when I realised everyone was getting ready to go to bed! Another early night! Just what I needed.
I slept well until 4:30 when Bu Nila knocked on my door. I was disappointed because I had envisioned a lovely sleep in! What a relief that she just needed her sons school bag that had been left accidentally in my room. I happily returned to sleep and woke again at 7am! A truly wonderful sleep in!
After a mandi, I was served breakfast:
After breakfast a jamu lady came to the door.
She stood at the door calling’ ‘Jamu, jamu, jamu’ until Bu Nila heard her. The jamu lady is the only seller than I have seen here in the ‘komplek’, all others are not allowed to enter. One of the main reasons why it is so quiet here! Bu Nila gave her 2 glasses and she filled both to the top with a turmeric mixture from one of her bottles for our tiredness. I was asked how much bitterness I could tolerate but after being warned on the jamu tour in Jogja that jamu for adults is incredibly bitter, I opted for a medium amount of bitterness. The serving she gave us was very generous unlike the serving in Jogja! Then to wash it down and to erase any bitterness in the mouth, we were given a small amount of warm ginger tea from the thermos! MIne was served in a small clean glass but Bu Nila had hers poured into her jamu glass. I really didn’t need a mouth cleanser but I still enjoyed it none the less!