A/N: I wanted to write a story about some of the places I’ve visited over the course of my 30 years on earth, but I was worried it’s going to come off as obnoxious or bragging. So, I chose to write a story about the place where I was born and raised, Jakarta. You might tell from the story how I have missed this city so much, picturing it in a light that I’m sure had I wrote this story back home, I would not have seen Jakarta the way I see it now.
Grace spins the globe. It’s battered and old, some of the countries on the globe have even been wiped white because of the many spinning she done when she was a mere 10 year old girl. The globe was a gift from her dad many moons ago. She thought about how romantic and stupid it is for people to spin the globe and see where it lands to decide where they should go for their trip. It’s romantic to hand fate the decision on where one should go. It is also stupid to believe that fate could hand you a good enough decision. Yet, she finds herself spinning the globe over and over again, not letting it stop for fear what her next destination may be.
A knock to her bedroom startled her, causing her to stop spinning the globe. Instead of opening the door, she fixes her gaze to the globe, curious to see where the globe stopped. The globe eventually stopped spinning, and the small pointy arrow points to a country. She shouted to the person at the other end of the door that she would start packing for she is flying to the capital of this country as soon as possible.
Grace is flying to Jakarta.
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. During the colonisation by the Dutch, it was called Batavia. Looking at the many photos of Jakarta from her phone, Grace noticed that Jakarta is a city of contradiction. It is modern, what with the newly launched MRT and it skyscrapers, but it is also traditional in which one might still be able to get street food from the street vendors lining up the pedestrian walk. It is big enough to house more than 9 million people, but not big enough to house the many mode of transportation that traffic jam is now more common than empty streets.
Excited is an understatement to what Grace is feeling right now. She has been to South East Asia before, but never Indonesia. She never thought Indonesia was interesting enough to visit. It was too big, too diverse, too many things offered, and never enough time. She knew she should not visit just the capital, she should have gone to Indonesia’s many islands, but she was excited nonetheless.
She’s not excited when she landed. She felt like dried up rice left under the sun for too long. The flight was so long; she almost forgot how it feels to stand on her own two feet and walk. When she exits the terminal, so many things assaulted her; she felt all her senses are going on an overdrive. There are so many people walking about, in and out of the terminal. She’s hearing so many things; laughter, screams, and even cries of goodbyes. And now, she began to notice the sweat travelling down her back to the crack of her butt. She is sweating so much. She knew Indonesia was a tropical country, but should it be this hot?
She entered her hotel room, feeling so grateful that at least the air conditioner was already turned on before she was in the room. She opened the thin white curtain of her hotel room to see what’s outside. Lights. Lights everywhere she looked. Lights from the traffic light, lights from the pedestrian walk, lights from the cars stuck in traffic jam, lights from the many billboards strewn around the place, lights from the shopping malls across her hotel. She never thought that Jakarta was so full of lights. She’s annoyed by the sound from the cars’ horn blaring from the traffic jam, but when she sleeps later in the night, it was the sound that puts her to sleep, faster than the white noise machine could put her to sleep.
She spent the rest of two weeks in Jakarta exploring the place, from the museums, the food, the many shopping malls, and even the many options of public transportation. She noticed that most locals are friendly because she was a foreigner, but also because they wanted to practice English with her. She found it endearing that people are so open they’re willing to talk to strangers just to practice another language. She found it amusing that people shared secret smiles during rush hour traffic when they hustle to cram themselves inside the public transportation.
On her flight back home, Grace noticed how she is going to miss so many things from Jakarta. She’s going to miss the sweat on her back, and how she would complained about it but also laugh about how funny it is that you don’t have to move to produce sweat in Jakarta. She’s going to miss the street food and the always-friendly street vendor offering their products to people on the street. She’s going to miss the sense of camaraderie that people seem to share whenever they’re waiting for public transportation. She’s going to miss being stuck in traffic and being left to her own devices, thinking about so many different things. She’s going to miss the simplicity of being an anonymous stranger in the city of never ending car horn blaring from the rise of the sun and even long after the sun set.