Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Travelogue: Incomplete. Yet.

I still remember clearly now, back in my university days, my top notch goal was to trot the globe right after I´m completely done with all sorts of conventional education. You see, I´m not exactly a classroom person, and getting a job with a steady income is pretty much not what I have in mind for now. I long to trade my life with Asha Gill, and I wish to be the next Sam Dunn. The one who goes around observing people, living their lives, learning the differences and yet being able to connect any possible similarity. A self employed anthropologist.

As cheesy as it may sound, my dream came true. My first stop was Indonesia, just two weeks after I had my graduation dinner. Oh, just a few days before, I got involved with street theater and enjoyed myself silly with underground artists and activists. I call Indonesia my second home, for all its wonderful people, people who I see as family. And freedom. I don´t know how they do it, but in spite of poverty, torn buildings, and lambasting traffics, I find peace. I have more room to breathe and fly free as compared to pretentious Kuala Lumpur. Teh botol never fails to quench my thirst in a euphoric manner under the hot sun which comes in a few inches away. And kreteks, the sweet, sweet kreteks. There was, and never will be a moment where I could stop falling in love with wayang kulit and gamelan. And batik is the most comfortable everyday wear one should ever possess. As much as my father may protest, I would still rather take a ride on the most dinghy train ever and the bus that never stops properly at wanted destination. I caught up with few old friends, met new ones along the way. Two of them will tie the knot by the end of this coming July, in a traditional Javanese ceremony. Another reason for me to come back again.

I have a thing for empty streets, back alleys and wide spread paddy fields. I´m pretty old fashioned that way. During the night, the stars were brilliant right above the rooftop of the small place I was staying in Jatinangor. We savoured the moment, an old friend and I with way too many ``Do you still remember..?´´ phrases and a few cigarettes.

Two hours before my father and I left for Malaysia, we had a small talk about my career. I can tell he was a little worried upon seeing my Bohemian appearance and the Chinese calligraphy tattoed on my right arm. So I urged him to have a little faith although I had absolutely no fucking clue with how the world revolves as well. Better a career talk than marriage because the latter is just plain bullshit. Wear my shoes (you may cut half of your feet if they don´t fit) and you will understand why. I still haven´t found my Minke or Rama yet, but who the hell cares. ``I am my own Lord throughout heaven and earth´´.

I don´t think I´ve settled down at home properly ever since I came back from Indonesia for I had to rush here and there just to get things necessary for my next destination, which was Scotland. From gamelan to bagpipe, batik sarong to kilts, I flew for fifteen hours straight. It was a month of family trip, and it did mean something to me, albeit not that much, after almost a decade of not being able to even sit at a dining table together as a full house. It was winter. And that was the first time in my twenty three years I saw snow. But of course, reading Geography books and watching too many films, I wasn´t the least bit surprised seeing particles of frozen raindrops. Or maybe it´s just me being a person who´s hardly ever impressed by almost anything. I love Celtic art, though, and cursed myself for not being able to afford a miniature of a Celtic goddess. Currency conversion was a bitch. Well, at least I have a choker of Gaia which I still wear till now. Their churches and cathedrals were as empty as our mosques. Not a new thing, for sure, as religion is just an option these days. I walked through cemeteries, old and new alike, and felt like a metalhead. My most favourite spot was definitely Inverness, and I swear to God, if I have enough money of my own, I´ll come back again for any given summer and plunge deep into the freezing lake overlooking the mountains which remind me of ais kacang back home. There were some nights where I was approached by random strangers in the bar, who were so curious about my brown skin and big eyes. I was eighteen to everyone there, but hey, who´s complaining? I even met several new acquaintances along the way and wondered if they could ever remember my name the next morning. The best thing about traveling is being incessantly random. You just play with the ball tossed at you. It´s all up to you to paint your own memories.

And then there was London but there´s not much to say. I still don´t get why many people are so keen about it. I get annoyed by crowds, and I´m not a fan of overrated, ostentatious cities. That´s it from me.

The weather change was really difficult for me to cope with when I arrived home in the middle of January. Each night I sweated like a pig and my throat was pretty fucked up. Cigarettes just made it worse. I had fever and throat infection, and recovered within two agonizing weeks of my stay, but my coughing went on even when I left for Istanbul come early February.

Due to my father´s late arrival and the shitty traffic, the check in counter at the airport closed. It wasn´t really his fault, for I´m prone to procrastination and ignorance as I completely forgot that check in can be made via online. The staffs didn´t let me go on board at first, but decided to change their mind after some heated arguments. Maybe I have the potential for being a true drama queen. I, then, exchanged a few kisses with my parents and ran as fast I could to reach the boarding gate.