06 September 2009

Reflections on the Big Oh-One

A couple of days ago, I celebrated the one month anniversary of my arrival in Yogya.  I had meant to commemorate the occasion by writing a very deep and reflective blog post about the import of said benchmark, but wouldn't ya know -- it just passed me right by.  That's not to say I wasn't aware of the meaning this past Wednesday, September 2nd held for me personally, because I very much was, but more that I was just plain old busy.  This coming week, the last of my classes that haven't yet started will begin, which will put me at about 19 hours of teaching per week, on top of which I now have 13 hours per week of Bahasa Indonesia lessons.  Add to that lesson planning time plus the random hours I just hang around the office in between classes, and you've got a pretty packed work week.  Compared to my first few weeks here, during which the days stretched out before me full of the possibility of adventurous excursions to the grocery store and plenty of free hours to blog, this new schedule is definitely a shift.  Two weeks ago, I could go to yoga class whenever I felt like it.  Now, there's only one class a week my schedule will actually accommodate, and obviously I had to enter it as a weekly event in my iCal under the "Fun Stuff" category in order to be sure I take advantage of my single weekly opportunity to contort my body into strange poses while concentrating hard on calming my mind.  Yes, my schedule has once again succumbed to the need for a "Fun Stuff" category.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

One month ago, I was feeling dangerously adrift in a totally foreign environment, and all I wanted was a routine to help me feel grounded and purposeful.  So I guess you get what you wish for.  But when I consider the larger scope of my progress since my arrival in Indonesia, it's actually surprising to me how far I've come.  While the padlock on my front gate still gives me occasional trouble, I now have absolutely no problem hailing the bus or directing a taxi to get me home at night.  I have a pretty solid sense of the way the city is laid out, to the point that I've started to pine acutely for my own wheels so that I can get more easily to the places I want to go, with the understanding that at this point I would know how to get there.  I secretly enjoy my mandi almost as much as my hot showers with water pressure at the gym.  (I mean, when it's 88 degrees outside and humid, who really wants a hot shower?)  I know what I want to order when I go out to eat, and the dodge and weave of crossing the street is now second nature.  Yogya doesn't seem nearly as dirty or as busy as it did when I first got here.  Roosters in the road are a regular fixture.  I know how much sambal my taste buds can take.  I've started wearing a jacket at night.

The achievement I'm most proud of, though, is the progress I've made with Bahasa Indonesia.  After just a week and a half of classes, I can now hold a basic conversation covering a wide range of topics, such as what my name is, where I am from, where I live, what the time and date are, daily schedules, and how much things cost.  Before you laugh, keep in mind that just ten days ago, the extent of my knowledge of this language pretty much ended at "Good morning!" and "See you later!"  These two phrases, while quite useful individually, don't afford much opportunity to get to know someone in between their combined use.  Now, on the other hand, between "Selamat pagi!" and "Sampai nanti!", I can find out not only what someone's name is and where they live, but also how much their motorbike cost and what time they wake up in the morning.  Basically, my Indonesian skillz are pretty much off the hook.  I feel new friends coming on fast.  If "Hello!  My name is Fiona.  What's your name?  Today is Sunday.  Are you a student?" isn't a sure-fire platonic pick-up line, then I don't know what is.  

So, in the spirit of both looking back and looking ahead, I've done what I do best and compiled two lists to categorize my current feelings on this whole living in Asia thing.  Silakan!


-- my family and friends
-- being able to call my family and friends whenever I want
-- cheese
-- having a washer & dryer
-- the social unacceptability of littering
-- not having my tastebuds seared off each time I try something new
-- efficiency
-- burgers
-- knowing what the heck is going on around me at any given time
-- wearing tank tops


-- my housemates
-- the friendliness of indonesian people
-- nasi bakar, tempe bakar, roti bakar, anything bakar
-- island time
-- motorbikes
-- having my tastebuds seared off each time I try something new
-- tropical fruit
-- the lack of grammar in Indonesian
-- the view of Gunung Merapi out my window
-- my students

And as nice as the occasional cheeseburger would be, when I really think about it, the only thing I really miss badly is living on the same continent as my loved ones.  I've begun to suspect that I'm really going to love it here, and what will lure me back at the end of the year will probably be largely the deal-breaking distance between me and my kin.  The possibility that I might be a bit of a homebody never really occurred to me before this, but there's still a lot of time to continue debunking that myth -- in the meantime, I'm content with my $1 dinners and motorbike fantasies.

Oh yeah, and don't tell, but I think I might be breaking up with Monggo Jahe.  I met someone new -- Monggo Kurma & Mete (dates & cashews), a limited-time-only Ramadan special.  Monggo Jahe and I had our fling, but people move on, you know?  Just wait till you guys meet Monggo Kurma & Mete.  This chocolate bar is going to blow your minds.

1 comment:

  1. Where can we get some of this yummy sounding stuff? Tucson suggestions?

    Love you!!