Guess how I woke up this morning!

Not by my alarm clock; I set my alarm at 8:00 and was forced to wake up at 6:00.

Mom’s delicious cooking smell? No, I’m in Tegal on my own now. No good smell in the morning unless I decide to cook myself.

Well if you reside in Indonesia and are so much into the news on TV or radio, you’ll know why. There was a 6.2 Richter earthquake in Yogyakarta this morning at around 6 o’clock. It broke a few buildings in that nice city. This was one of the effects of Merapi Mountain’s activities, I guess. It has been very active lately and I read in the newspaper that the people who live in the neighbouring villages have been moved to somewhere farther.
I actually expected that Tegal would get a little effect of the mountain’s eruption (not yet, but its activities have been very frequent) like a dust rain or something, but an earthquake? This town is about 4-5 hours journey by bus or train from Yogyakarta. It can be considered far though both are located in Central Java. Yet it was enough shake to wake me up this morning feeling and looking at my rattling bed.

When Merapi does blow one day, I suppose it won’t be a tender one.

Wish me luck.
I couldn’t sleep last night. After two days (and still) having a bad cold, my emotions were kind of fragile. I don’t usually get insomniacs, but the sickness had a role in it, I guess. So I spent my night reading Rina’s roman novel until 5 o’clock. Then I walked out of the room and got my dirty clothes soaked in a pail of water with detergent (I felt sorta hyperactive at that time). I let it soak for an hour and in the mean time I got online and checked my emails.

At 6 I started washing and when I was done around an hour later I took a nap. I woke up at 9. That made me sleep only 2 hours that day, cause afterwards I didn’t have the chance to go back to sleep again.

I brushed my teeth and changed clothes and went to Pasar Pagi (the morning traditional market) nearby. I’d made a list of a lot of things to buy and I came home around 2 hours later with 4 big plastic bags full of vegetables, rice, all kinds of spices and chicken. Everyone was laughing at me for they thought that it was too much. I thought that, too. But if it could prevent me from doing shopping in a hot market too often, it surely was a plus thing to do. That way I might not have to go back there in a few weeks. :D

What was fun was the fact that I was trying to speak in Javanese with all the sellers. As a Surabayan, we had Javanese language taught for 9 years at school as an alternative course. And though my father was a pure Javanese man, we never really spoke in Javanese at home (or anywhere else, even in public places; Surabayan people are quite used to having non-Javanese speakers), so I’m not well-trained. I understand most of it, but it’s really hard to build a sentence as a reply. This morning, however, I was trying hard. I think it’s better to speak in Javanese with those people rather than in Indonesian for A. cities in Central Java are way more into Javanese cultures and B. I don’t wanna get cheated when I buy something just because they know that I’m not a local. That way, I hoped, I could get more respect and normal price from them. I succeeded with some vendors and failed with the other vendors. It didn’t take a genius that I couldn’t construct the best sentences or even phrases in Javanese. But I think they appreciated me.

I don’t know why. But I now would like to re-learn the language again from the beginning. I don’t know yet how to do that, but I’ll find a way. I may just naturally enquire it from the daily life here.

It’s a fantastic feeling
In case of pleasure, Tegal is lacking it. Like on Saturdays, for example, when the office closes at 6 in the evening, the teachers and staffs of EF, most of who come from the other cities all around Java and Sumatra, always have such a hard time to decide what to do. There are seriously not so many options for it. There are no clubs here, no cafĂ©’s, not even book stores. So where can I get some books to read if an outing is not really a choice? Pam said that to purchase books she usually had to go to Cirebon, the nearest bigger city in West Java, which takes about 1.5 hour journey.

It’s already quite good that it has 4 malls, though. I’m not a big fan of malls, but here, better than nothing. Inside the office/apartment, however, modern facilities are quite complete. There are an internet connection, computers and the children games (I’m interested in installing some of my own games, or even Adobe Photoshop, but I’m not sure if I can do that in one of them. But I’ll try asking), DVD players, big TV, refrigerator etc. But we surely can’t keep being home all the time, right? We work and live in the building. We need to get out!

So last weekend we decided to go to a karaoke place. Ernie and Pam were happy when they knew that I liked karaoke, too. They finally managed one of the front desk girls, Nisa, to join us.

I didn’t know where they’d take us until we arrived at Plaza Hotel. Oh-oh… Must be expensive. After a quite long argument with the becak drivers about the price we paid (we already agreed before taking their becaks that we would pay Rp 4,000 for each becak to get to Plaza hotel and now they were pretending that they didn’t agree; then they asked for 10,000). But we left them anyway with Rp 5,000 each and got inside the quite luxurious hotel. Warnings in my head! Money money money…

It cost us Rp 60,000 an hour to rent a karaoke room. Dang! In Surabaya it costs only Rp 17,500 per hour for a small room in the non-busy days. But we decided to give it a shot anyway. Just curious.

There is only one kind of karaoke room. No small, big, or VIP rooms there. Basically it’s just like a hotel room, which of course is very nice and comfy, but it’s equipped with a quite big TV and audio system. But then again, we, coming from Jakarta and Surabaya, were a bit disappointed to see that there was no computer there to list our chosen songs. We had to use the traditional way, which was, we had to read the big catalogue of songs (there was only ONE catalogue) and press the number of the song opted from the remote control. I felt like being brought back to the 1980s. hehe…

Well anyway, we had fun. We didn’t stay longer than an hour, though, for it was hell too expensive (I mean in a small town like Tegal, you don’t really expect that, do you?), so we made plans to do the karaoke at our own place, with the DVD player and some pirated karaoke CDs.

When I was home, I felt like having my computer sent here. It’s gonna be so much better when I have my computer here. I can continue my new website’s skin design, I can play a lot of computer games, I can retouch my pictures… I can just basically do a LOT with a computer. MY OWN computer.

A. I’m running out of money
B. I’m sick of instant noodle
C. I miss home cooking

I decided to COOK this morning!!!!!!!

How amazing was THAT? (LOL)

It was only soup, though, which ingredients I bought at the Pasar Pagi (morning market) nearby for only Rp 1,000! And since I was cooking for myself and all the pans (that belong to one of those people living here, don’t know which exactly) are small, I couldn’t cook all of it. So I divided the sop-sopan by halves and saved the other half in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s breakfast. How money-saving is that!

I should have done it earlier. I am not bad in cooking after all. That was concluded after I decided that the taste of the soup I made was close to the one my mom usually cooks. Of course it couldn’t be way too different in taste since I used her recipe (hehe) but how I was so proud of myself.

Now what to cook for the day after tomorrow? Hmm….
One thing I don’t enjoy working in this country is… everything is so slow. That doesn’t mean that I’ve worked overseas somewhere, but I did once work at a Dutch company in Surabaya where the Dutch boss directly supervised me. It was my first official job, yet it left quite a big impression to me.

To compare it with some companies I’ve worked at afterwards, I should say that CDU (the Dutch company) had a faster pace, which I found so efficient. No time was wasted and when something was done, we could concentrate to another project just as soon.

Alto Network was also slow. But in a good sense. It was hard to work too efficiently there for everybody took it easily. There were no competitions among the workers, which in one side is a good aspect of Alto. But in another case, it killed the spirit of working FOR the company, in order to make the business run well. The result was it was breaking up to pieces. However, the faults should not be wholly put upon the workers’ shoulders. There were some other more crucial things that made it fall down. Yet I was still sad and disappointing when I heard from Juz that Alto had to dismiss all the last employees but Bo and Vanie.

My new job at English First, is owned by an Indonesian. Though in most bigger cities in Indonesia EF offices are monopolized by expatriates, in Tegal it’s mostly run by Indonesian people. I find them nice people, at least the ones who work here. Misunderstandings happen sometimes between the teachers and administrative staffs but they can always fix them after some discussions.

However, I find it quite hard to communicate with the owner. Until today I haven’t signed my contract, which she promised to settle last weekend, because she hasn’t made the trip to this town yet. I don’t mind actually. But I was expecting that she could at least let me know that it was postponed or something; so I can get my assurance and can start building my life here. At this moment I don’t dare buying pans etc. for cooking for I think everything is somewhat vague right now. I know she doubted about changing the contract a little as I demanded her to do and she is now probably looking for another option if the talk is unsatisfying. I saw that Ernie got a fax message of a CV of a prospective teacher. So maybe, just MAYBE, she just wants to keep things way too profitable to EF, while not to the employees, by taking someone who is not as hard to deal as I am. Well, she can do it. I just know I don’t want to get slaved by some rich businessperson.

I emailed her three or four days ago, reminding her about this important meeting. She hasn’t answered yet. I thought, “Oh OK, it’s not a new thing. Indonesian people can never handle emails well anyway.”
So I called her. But I couldn’t get through.
The weekend passed by and I didn’t hear a word from her. I texted her today and got FINALLY a late reply saying that she might be coming next week or the week after. Which means it’s in the end of the month if the latter happens. Guess what again, she has never asked my bank account number. So much of a professionalism, huh?

Do I expect professionalism? Hell yes. They expect the same from me. Besides, for a company with EF’s caliber, I absolutely didn’t think this thing would happen. I don’t know if this is only just my feeling… but my instinct says something and it doesn’t seem to be too good.

But again, whatever happens happens. I don’t put too much pressure about it to myself, nor would I let it influence my teaching performance. Those kids pay a lot to study here, so they should get what they deserve. I’ll handle this business contract later.

I hope it goes well. If not, well be prepared that I may go home after a while.
Living in Tegal so far is not as bad as I thought before. It’s a small town, yes. I just knew today that every street here doesn’t stretch any longer than 300 metres. I went to the banks this morning and, unlike in Surabaya, I only had to walk to those places. To go to the only mall here would only need around one or two minutes by the angkot. I like the fact that it is just so very easy to get to some places here, but probably that is also the advantage I get from living in the heart of the town.

Another positive thing is… the air is sooooo much fresher than in my beloved polluted Surabaya. It’s hot here, like in almost everywhere in Indonesia, but the heat is not hurting, like when you find when you visit Jakarta or Surabaya, or other bigger cities. I can still walk at noon without feeling too uncomfortable. I actually am thinking to buy a bicycle here so I can get somewhere farther. Doing that in the morning will be a good start for a good mood. But… it’ll have to wait until I get my first salary in the end of the month, if the loans at the banks and friends don’t really choke me. :D
That doesn’t sound so positive, huh? But I’m dying to get a bicycle. I won’t even mind if it’s just a second-hand one.

I still haven’t got my own room here. The administrator, Dedy, promised me that tonight would be the last night I shared with the other two teachers. But looking back at the similar promises made these past few days, I don’t set a high hope for that. Dedy asked me why I insisted so much to have my own room. He, like the other Indonesians, thinks that it’s always nicer and better to have a friend/friends to live with. When he said that, a friend whose room I am staying in at the moment, was there. So I replied with a more polite but less honest answer. “Well, I don’t want to bother them in the morning. I always get up early and get in and out of the room so often for toilet purposes. I realize I always make noises that can wake them up, and I don’t want that. But you know, even when I get my own room later, I think I’m gonna spend most of my time at their room. It’s fun to gossip at nights with them.”
I saw a smile in Ernie’s face, the teacher whom I am sharing the room with temporarily, and I knew I answered it right.

The real truth is, however, I need a space. A privacy. An ownership. That’s why I can’t wait to get my own room and decorate it as I please. I can be tidy or untidy as I want. And I can be alone when I need it. It’s all hard to do all those things when you share your room with someone.

One other truth is I do enjoy being with them sometimes. We have many different interests, but the topic about boys is always interesting for all ages. They also have a TV and DVD player in their room (there is also each of them in the living room, but it’s nicer to watch them on a bed, right?). So I guess I will visit them quite often at nights, anyway.

Besides, we’ll live only one floor away!
I had to leave Surabaya for Tegal today. After thinking about it over and over again, I made a decision to move out of this city I’ve always lived in, for although Tegal is a much smaller town, it pays better salary than the companies in Surabaya. I have never been too materialistic in the old days, but I need a lot of cash (or digits in my bank account) at the moment. SO… I decided (half-willingly) to move and sacrifice my good life for a big saving in the end of the contract.

It was hard to leave. But in another sense, it was good to leave.

It was hard to get into the taxi with Michelle crying before the fence. She was in her mother’s arms, who apparently finally came back from Jakarta after three months. But she (Michelle) has been so close to me lately. It broke my heart that I almost cried.

It was hard to leave my lovely mother. It was hard to leave so many good friends in Surabaya: Rina, Veve, Tina, Nyoh etc. It was hard to leave my brother, though he didn’t seem to really care about it J (my family is so used to me traveling, but hey… I leave to LIVE in another city).

It was good to leave, however, because after two months wandering around Tunjungan Plaza and home, back and forth, back and forth, without any specific useful reasons, it was good to leave to WORK. My life is so lame when I don’t have anything to do, but babysitting Michelle. Not that I didn’t like that, but it is just absolutely not a dream job. Especially that I didn’t make any money out of it (hehe).

It was good to leave since I felt that my life was surrounded by so many fake things lately. All the fancy restaurants, clubs, coffee shops and department stores didn’t interest me anymore. Especially when I didn’t have the money to enjoy them all.

It was good to leave for one of my close friends, Jun, was avoiding me for some reason that she never told me about. I guessed the reason, with the help of Rina’s hints, but I truly expected her to tell it right off to my face. Get angry if she wants, but she didn’t do it. I was disappointed at her, and she was disappointed at me. The walls between us were getting higher and higher when a big misunderstanding happened in one evening, when she and Rina texted Dimitri, an American friend who was staying in Surabaya, to go out to Tavern Lounge and Pub, and asked him to take ME with him there.
I was like… huh? Shouldn’t they invite me first and take Dimitri with me there? Where did I stand in this friendship thingie?
I hated the fact that it happened 2 days before I left. But in a way, I’m glad I can get rid of these things.. though my heart doesn’t rest, for never in my life I can think of losing best friends like Jun or Rina.
I’ve been thinking of a way to get this right. But for now, being so far away from where they live, it’s not that easy.

All of those thoughts haunted me during my forever journey from Surabaya to Tegal. I decided to take a bus instead of a train because I always believed that buses took us faster to a place than trains.

Well not in this journey.

First, they needed to get the bus full. So although I arrived at the bus terminal at 11, my bus left at 1 (urgh…). Second, there was a bridge falling down in Rembang, a city in the border of East Java and Central Java, so we had to take a MUCH MUCH MUCH longer turn and a big traffic jam was delaying us even more to get to our destination. We were stuck there for about 3 or 4 hours only in REMBANG! Gggggrrrrrrr!!!!!

The result was I arrived in Tegal at 2 in the morning! So a total of 16 hour-journey! Dang! Even worse than a 7-hour train. But a lesson is a lesson. Next time, I’ll surely take a train!

Now I understand why people invented the word “WORSE”. Because there are always worse things coming up after the bad things you’ve had.
Well, I arrived in Tegal long after midnight, weary, physically and emotionally tired, to find that I couldn’t contact one of the teacher’s cellphone (the only number that I know!) to open the door for me! I tried a thousand times to call her, but the network (HER network) was always busy. I called a friend in Surabaya and I managed to get through. But nothing could be done from there. So I tried and tried (also tried to call the office but it directly connected me to the fax machine, so no use) and after 30 MINUTES, I could get her pick up my phone. *sob*

I went to bed at 3 that day (spent about 30 minutes to wash my face and brush my teeth and so on and so on). But hey, I was there anyway. That was better than waiting for the office to open at 7. I just hoped that it was all worth the effort. :-~