New Host Family @ Bu Sovia’s

This morning after a quick swim, I was collected from Bu Valentina’s and taken to my new host family who live in Pondok Ranji, Jln Pertamina Raya, No. 69. Bu Sovia, the mother, is one of the teachers frm Bhakti Mulya and lives here with her husband, a doctor, and their 3 sons and 1 daughter. I have met them all now expect for the oldest son who went to Bogor today to complete a photography task for his multimedia course.
Bu Sovia & her husband live in an enormous house. The guest sitting room is just inside the front door but is so large they have 2 couches & 6 arm chairs.

When I first arrived with Pak Hadi, the school principal, we were invited to sit in here and we were served a beautiful cold drink of something pink and sweet with a selection of finger foods, fruits and cakes.

As Pak Hadi’s wife wasn’t feeling very well, they left soon afterwards and I was then shown upstairs to my room. My room is between the 2 boys rooms and opposite their bathroom which is very western. It has a western toilet, a shower with a water heater, ledges in the shower to put toiletries as well as a hand washing basin. Most of these facilities are not found in Indonesian bathrooms!
Upstairs is also the home theatre room, the laundry, a huge verandah which looks out onto the street but looks as though it is hardly ever used, There are also numerous other rooms too but I have yet to discover what they are for. The upstairs area has only just been repainted. My bedroom still smells faintly of paint but thankfully it is fading. Apparently the water dispenser near the home theatre room over heated and caught fire. Most of the upstairs level was damaged by the fire and smoke and sections of the roof damaged. It is all repaired now and you would never know there’d been a fire if not told.
The English teacher,Bu Wulan, dropped by to say hello which was lovely. I had met her in Adelaide earlier this year when she and one of the vice principals, Pak Sobari, had brought a group of students to south Australia. On her last day in Australia her host, Bu Eka, invited her & Pak Sobari to attend a function organised by the Balinese Community of SA, (coordinated by my parents, Pak Tony & Bu Ketut) for Galungan. While at the function, we met and I heard that her school, Bhakti Mulya 400 was hoping to find a sister school. As the Fleurieu Hub Of Indonesian teachers were interested in finding a sister school which had students of a similar age to ours (5-13 year olds), and Bakt Mulya 400 is a kindergarten – year 12 school, I was reasonably confident our Hub would be interested in investigating a sister school relationship. We exchanged email addresses and the rest is history as they say!
Bu Wulan stayed for lunch and we chatted while we ate about her experiences in Australia and my schedule for this upcoming week. It was lovely reconnecting with Bu Wulan, especially as she has met my parents and knows a little about my family. It has been a little daunting starting all over again at a new school and thinking about reintroducing myself to a new staff. After 2 weeks at SMKN 29, I was just getting to know the staff there and putting names to faces. Thankfully Bhakti Mulya is much smaller, so hopefully the number of staff will also be smaller! The bilingual class is taught by Mr Bob, who is English and married to a Sundanese woman. That is one name I should have no trouble remembering!
Soon after Bu Wulan left, Bu Sovia asked me if I would like an afternoon nap as they were all about to have one before we headed out later! What a wonderful idea! Not knowing how late we would be out till, I jumped at her suggestion. The bedrooms all have air conditioning so it was wonderfully decadent. On my bed is one pillow, 2 gulings and a quilt. A guling is a long narrow pillow:

20130616-210248.jpgI have used a guling ever since living in Indonesia and can not sleep with out one now! So I feel very spoilt having 2 on my bed!
After our afternoon naps, and then the mandatory mandi, we headed our to Pondok Indah to visit a huge mall. The mall had 4 floors.

20130616-212836.jpgWhile Bapak was parking the car we headed to the top floor where the food court is located and the cinema. The plan was to buy tickets for a 7pm movie and then have dinner while waiting for the movie to start, but the 7pm session was sold out, so we will try again tomorrow night! So we headed to the food court. The adults had Indonesian food and the children had western food.

The 2 boys had A&W burgers, KFC chicken, nasi, fries and chicken soup. Unsurprisingly they couldn’t eat it all! After the adults had finished dinner we sat chatting while the boys tackled their feast. Suddenly Bapak thrusts his phone in front of my face. I am forced to look at a very gory picture of an ulcerated foot. He then explains that he deals with many diabetic patients who have huge ulcers which need surgery. Thank goodness I had finished dinner! Trying not to feel repulsed while showing genuine interest, he immediately showed me several more photos all just as gory as the first. His children looked on eagerly with morbid fascination. It is hard to explain but Indonesians have a different perspective about what is appropriate. In the newspapers, it is not unusual for articles about natural disasters or wars to include pictures of people and animals who died. Life and death is treated far more pragmatically here than it is in the west.
Being at that mall was like being in a mall in a western country. Except for the fact that everyone was Indonesian, the shops were full of people doing very western things like sitting in coffee shops, pushing prams, ordering pizza. Also, most people were wearing very western styled clothing which showed a lot of skin, something I haven’t seen in Java much so far. Girls were wearing shorts and singlets while some women were wearing dresses with hemlines above the knee with very high heeled shoes. That mall was like no other mall I have been to in Indonesia. So modern, so upmarket and with very wealthy patrons. The contrast hit me again when we drove home along narrow streets flooded with people from poorer backgrounds, struggling to earn enough money to feed their families. The extremes of Indonesia!
In the car going home, I continued to answer questions about living costs in Australia in between Bu Sovia ordering her sons to speak to me in English. We did have a few conversations and their English is pretty good. The middle son is in the bilingual class at Bhakti Mulya. One question Bu Sovia asked me which I knew most Australians would think was pretty amusing was whether I would be ok sleeping by myself or did I want her to tell the maid to sleep in my room to keep me company! I had visions of the maid having to drag her mattress in here! I reassured her that Australians are used to sleeping by themselves, something she and most Indonesians find hard to comprehend!


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