Sunday morning coming down (Bye bye, Johnny)

Well now, 36 hours in Jogjakarta, and what have I to say for myself? Let’s look at the plusses. As my new friend Sas (short for Dionysius Sasmoyo Hermawan) said earlier today, the only thing that distinguishes Jogja from Bali is the architecture, and the architecture here is charming and tasteful, even the new stuff keeping to Javanese traditional styles. The joglo I staid in on Bali was shipped there from Central Java, and here in Jogja I’ve seen the same construction principles everywhere. Outside the city itself, clear roads wind through lush countryside rolling towards nearby mountains. I had the same impression even before Sas managed to find my new home, when I got off the airplane. Small airport, collect the bags, stroll out into … fresh air and clear skies! Felt like Bali… what a refreshing change from Jakarta. And the best change of all: In a car for the better part of 4 hours today, on a motorbike yesterday evening for a couple… and never hit a traffic jam. Everything in the area is accessible at 40 or more kilometers an hour. Why? No public transportation (minivans and buses) that stop anywhere they damn well please, almost everyone driving motorcycles instead of cars, and a ring road (beltway). So much for the Jakarta days of reading in the back of taxis for an hour en route to the office. Have to find someplace else to read.

But… the Islamic University has very kindly provided me with a…reasonably… adequate 2 bedroom condo as part of its cost-sharing agreement with the USG. 2 bedrooms (though only one bed so far), a/c, though only in my bedroom (they’ve agreed to supply a standing fan or two for the living area and the 2nd bedroom…and a 2nd bed). Fridge (2 shelves and the freezer door broken) Minimalist furniture, standard Indo water system – cold water only in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, but hot water conceded for the shower… which, Indo style sprays onto the floor, toilet, and open cistern (which leaks) must be careful not to soak the TP,which only us silly westerners use anyway. Nowhere to put anything: food, shoes, books, folders, toiletries. The “dining” table is the medicine cabinet… no mirror or reflective surface anywhere: shaving blind, and putting lenses in the car window this AM… what do I look like? … no drinking water (again, they’ve agreed to provide a cooler)… no washing machine or laundrette/dry cleaner anywhere within site and the clock is ticking on the underwear and clothes; with minimal a/c, let’s say I’ve returned to sweating through my wardrobe three times a day. They’ve said they’ll provide a washing machine, too, but I’ll pray to Mecca if that happens.

I’ve got a lead on a housekeeper who can make the laundry and cooking issues go away, but there remains one insurmountable problem with my home, speaking of Mecca… looking out my back door, across an interesting little garden with lovely murals, chipped a bit, painted on the garden wall, looms the turret of a mosque that I can quite literally hit with a baseball thrown by my 41-year-old arm. Looking out my front door yesterday and today, I did not see one woman’s hair… After buying a map this afternoon, I discovered I’ve been placed in a neighborhood (Timoho) so quiet and isolated that its streets are not labeled, let alone drawn on, the official maps of Jogja. Taxi’s won’t find the street. Most problematically, the mosque’s speakers are pointed directly at us, which is fine and necessary for everyone but me. For me, in the evening they drown out my speakers (which must be kept extremely quiet due the close proximity of neighbors and the open doors and windows everywhere) , and, let’s remember, Moslems are called to pray at 4:00 in the AM. I was wary of the issue last night, so fell asleep with earplugs in and managed to miss the prayer session, but I can’t do that during the week, lest I sleep through the 6:30 alarm. I called Mick (playing pool in D’s Kemang with my friends, sigh) at the 7:00 pm prayer call… it is truly remarkable just how loud that call is, and I have to get out of here. This would be an adventure for a week or two…but… The University has no money, and they are doing the best they can, and bending over backwards to do more (it’s far better than what communist Poland often provided me with, that’s for sure), but I don’t think I can handle the isolation and amplification for nine months. Sas, his wife Tia, and their friend Toto (hold the line!) are on it. We figure there’s a more western-style house much closer to the cosmopolitan city-center to be had for three or four thousand for the year, and the University has provided me with a driver to and from work…It’s up to me to ease out of here without offending anyone. Meanwhile, Sas and Tia ahave been building a house that they are now ready to move into. Set near the neighboring mountains, cool breezes blow across the tobacco fields surrounding their land, and it adjoins houses built over several decades and utilizing several generations of plumbing and power.

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