I was told that Jakarta was a big messy chaotic city, I didn’t have to visit there. But at that time, I would like to see the capital of each country, no matter how it was like.
A girl called Ika accepted my couch surfing request. On her profile picture, she had very short hair, and was lifted up by several people to the air. What a cool girl, I thought.
We agreed to meet up at a bus station and she came riding her motorbike. She was tiny. Even for the average smaller South East Asian people, she was tiny. She carried the bigger me and my even bigger backpack on her motorbike. While holding her, I was worried. If there comes one sudden accelerate, am I going to drag her out of her motorbike? We rode for a long time, through the, as rumor said, messy and chaotic Jarkata. There were traffic jams almost all the way, and we were always surrounded by tons of other motorbikes. This reminded me Phnom Penh, where the motorbikes were going fast through narrow lanes and would try every possible way to get forward for just a little bit. There, I felt time fly back, to the wonderful time in the wonderland, Cambodia.
We went through many narrow alleys, passed many residents sitting or standing in front of their houses before we arrived her home. She parked her motorbike in a little yard in front of her house. We entered the house to the living room, it was dark. There was a TV in the corner and a sofa right next to the door. Later, that was the place we had our meals. From the living room walking towards the back of the house, there was the kitchen, where her mother cooked delicious curry beef stews, and she made by far my favorite Indonesia food: the Indo Mien. At the entrance of the kitchen, stairs leaded me to the second floor, where my room located. Like many other places in Indonesia, people place either a mattress or a carpet, and sleep on the floor. I slept there for 4 nights, it was comfortable.
During the days there, I did one thing special. It wasn’t anything special for most of the people there, but it was for me. I fasted. For 2 days. I didn’t eat or drink anything for 2 days during the day time when the sun was still above the horizon. Instead, I woke up at 3 am every day and joined her family to their pre-fasting meal. It wasn’t easy. Even though almost the whole country was fasting, sometimes we could still see people eating or drinking on the street. That amplified our thirst and hunger. During the late afternoons, I felt weak. I felt the energy were fading away from my body. I could disappear in the air or dissolve into the ground.
To end a whole month’s fasting, Indonesians celebrate it with a big festival, which is considered as Christmas in the western world, and as the Chinese New Year in China. That day I woke up as usually, no one was at home. ? Where was everyone? Did I wake up too late and missed the chance to join them to the mosque? I got myself ready and planned to look for them. I walked out of the house, I kept walking and walking, and, wow… what is this in front of me? I saw streets after streets in white. The streets were full of people dressing in while, kneeling on the ground, graying. I looked over them, I couldn’t see the end. The town was quiet and empty, with only preying melodies hovering in the air.
Her family made me think of home. That was what I thought when I was sitting on the couch in their living room. I can’t remember what it was anymore. Maybe it was the warmness and calmness in the house, or maybe it was the feeling of surrounded by many family members, or maybe, it was the delicious mama-made dishes, that made me think about home. I was treated as a member of their family.
In the end, Jakarta might be a ‘messy’ city, but her family and friends made it a place worth to stay. I left there with a lot of gratitude, to her, to her family, and to her friends.
There, I made my second toy on the trip, a teddy bear. I call him/her The Ika Bear.