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Posts Tagged ‘single’

It’s kind of late in the evening to be hanging out at Alberto’s on weekdays, but it’s such a starry night to miss. The wind is blowing just right and the moon is shining brightly. I guess the Sea Goddess is having a ball. Such a romantic tune from an acoustic guitar is serenading between the backdrops of the waves. That serene moment is lurking which is so rarely come to existence.

There’re people all around me tonight, not a bad night for business. Tables are full with happy faces in small groups, dining with friends or love ones, on holiday. Temporarily forgetting the life routines with no cares in the world, spending rupiahs, and feeling like Kings and Queens on the upper hand of the dollar value. Life’s a heaven my friend, as long as you are traveling in the less fortuned countries instead of your mighty developed one.

Feeling like in a holiday myself. Hanging out at café anytime the urge arises. Going through the daylight hours in an office where works are not the burden, with colleagues whom are the blessed from heaven. Salary’s enough for spending in a reasonable luxury. Living in my closed up world, in my own made believe routine. No hassle, if not provokes by those efforts of self-induced tantrum. What more can a girl ask for?

In fact, a lot more I should admit. All is combined into a one whole package, of love. For whatever it means and whatever forms it may manifests. A special someone to call my own, to share moments with, be there with through all the life’s ups and downs. Is it too much to ask? I wonder. Thus, question never meets the answer’s eye and this hollowness inside despite the cheerful and tomboyish outlook on life still sustains deeply. Peeking out once in a while, once provoked by memory, reverie, love song or some romantic movie or book. This silly old heart keeps reminding that wiser brain about something, which is not, yet in place. Yet, every time the logic mechanism will waltz in, acting on in a referee’s shoe, setting back the equation into balance, soothing the emotions ripples, sending provable and solid facts, till’ finally there’ll be one missing heartbeat, a slowed-down rhythm and once again day begins and ends normally.

Indifference, with the provoking long lasting taste of bitterness, is lingering in the background. The backdoor man is standing guard, making sure there is not a slightest ray of souls float by. When it broke through once or twice, lust was in domain instead of love.

Still a remedy is found in this state of indifference. It’s proclaiming that life can be so much fun by simply pushing back the thoughts. It works all the time with only one down fall of recurrence, a flashback. Every now and then, this medicine needs to be reinforced to reach that state again, sweet indifference with a bit of bitterness for an aftertaste.

Laughing and being gay, are the essential ingredients. Go out fishing for fish, fishing for squids, feeling the sea breezes at sunset, no need for waking up for sunrise – it’s inducing an opposite effect – undesirable, absorbing splashes of sea water on my lips and blink again and again when they catch the eyes – enjoy – it’s a preferable substitute for those forbidden tears, climbing the mountain in reach – it works the body and spirit in shape for the road of courage and bravery. Endurance is that sweet elixir for a limbo state of mind. Laughing and being gay pour up those most inner feelings to those with willing ears and or use all the charms to will those unwilling. Days will pass feathery; weeks will change into months and years, resulting in a wider circle of so-called close friends. The most valuable lifesavers, unsubstitutable, whom can be easily reached by emails, wherever I might crash and make that a so-called home, temporarily before those spur of moment relocations stormed in.

Best advice of all, is to follow that happiness craving in small portion at a time. As big portion will never come and if it does, be careful, delirious might most likely be the effect. Just settles for the act of living tomorrow worry for tomorrow journey as today possess its own load and there’s always that damn slight possibility that tomorrow will never take its existence. A wise lady once said and believe it still, if you are following this stream of consciousness you will recognize her words, “Rise up like a phoenix, unharmed and be even more graceful yet tough. It will never matter what was your previous state of wreckage, once you have found that courage to reincarnate, you will be whole again, better than ever.”

Simple sweet things in life are precious and rarer than the dinosaur’s skulls. They require less digging to unearthed, less science mapping to discover, less geological knowledge to classify. Yes, they are truly harder to notice in this buzzing indifference and yet once the brainwaves radar took in those blinking red dots, the heart will classify them easily and store them dearly in a special slot. Once in awhile, those are the fuel used to grease up ones life’s wheel. Turning the cycle back into a jazzy rhythm, sliding back to ease, breathe in and relax. The world goes round and rainbow rays are still decorating the sky just like the first in Noah’s ancient one. The sight of that spurs of colors across the grandiose sky, is the only thing and the closest thing to a permissive dream and hope.

Remembering oneself, most of all. Once you have gained that control, nothing is able to pull you down too far. Beware. Indifference is not equal to being death of all senses. It is a selective indifference in practice that I am aiming for. Keeps me sane, keeps me writing this. And in the light that people might take us lightly, pardon me, but let’s give them the finger, the one in the middle, I am referring to, mind you. Things that I have worked for, this castle that I have built stone by stone, all the principles that I hold higher than religion, made a version of a being I am today. Yes, this selective indifference is legally prescribing a finger for those unlucky ones whom this heart labeled as lower than dandruff. It is authorized to be used perfectly with whom I do not hate but despise as a being with unprogrammed personality worth created. Remembering oneself, most of all. Reconsidering the whole effort for being the one, I am today. So, be prepared finger, and sincerely hoping overtime is not required. Just to be on the safe side when heaven and hell actually is a proven verity.

Once in awhile let that combination of heart and soul guides the actions instead of those brain cells and logic. As long as the conscience is capable of taking in all the consequences, float away, why not. Especially, in the case of one of those special kind of lust, where a common ground and interest is in view, when emotion is stronger than pride or ego – which is rarely happening in reality – with all the five or even six senses cry out in “Aye”, dive in the deep water. Trust and have faith on those tiny cells, motherboard will kick in and throw that lifesaver which or whom will keep you afloat again eventually. Hold on to those feelings, those simple things in life. Open all pores, breathe in those sweet sensations of another soul, so near, so close at hand. Linger with a big smile, be willy-nilly, and count the daisy. Having a warm body next to yours is a damn handy for a 3 a.m. bedtime story session to lull you to your dreamless sleep. Believe in the human instincts. Forget commitment, don’t mind planning, there’s nothing to it. Don’t make any blueprint. Don’t release those air balloons filled with hopes and attached with promises. A borrowed time and moment is enough to save the day. Return them to the owner promptly, don’t evoke problem with those mobs. The good ones are always taken if they are not they are classified under the “Missing Links.” The bad nuts are not worth discussing.

Remember this heart and soul act is only allowed to perform just for the sake of sanity. Small dose is more than enough for going back to the logic track. Eventually, the turn of time will knock some senses in mother earth’s plan for yours truly. With the big bang repeating, the force of universe will be collating heart, soul, brain cells, and logic in one major momentum. And, love will finally manifest its meaning before ones very own eyes, revealing before its many masks, in its first baby suit from heaven, matching all the questions to answers and the odyssey ends once and for all.

Behold. That is a version of a fairytale like ending. From a complicated and curious mind set such as this, there’s also another popped up question about the existence of a soul mate. The wonder of it all, if the other person’s soul is the genuine half of the other half then they should be born at the same date, exact same hour down to the exact same millisecond. And with a rapid leap of technology, there will be a time when locating one another is surely not a quest.

But then again, there might be a chance, and most likely, there definitely is, that heaven has a huge storage room for all those halved souls, with no clear instruction and timing, decent maps nor blueprints for sending them out to the universe. Thus, the “Where’s Waldo?” case syndrome is the most common occurrence. This is the version of a non-fairytale like ending.

Free will, free choice, my friend. Select the appropriate button on your life screen and live with it. Making whoopees is not always the result. That’s all.

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So, I am in between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands. I have been hanging in this coffee shop at SMS, the Mall for far too many hours. Almost like a daily ritual, a retreat place for contemplating whether I should go the gym and have my workout; the gym is conveniently locating itself a few door down from the café, such a nuisance, or for continuing my cooling down period from the torturous workout from the gym over tall white – no sugar, in a large mug, one after another, contemplating something else which happen to cross my mind other than exercises, thanks goodness. I always have a book with me to read, sometimes with my laptop, accessing the free Wi-Fi, checking my emails, chatting and of course, my Facebook. When I’m with my laptop, I pretend that I am a famous writer tolling along with my latest novel, typing away while the world passes me by, hush now, I’m creating another master piece. When I get bored, I text, Noval the PT, tell him that I’m at the café (again) and whether he would like to come and join me for a cuppa. He understands me quite well now, just of course, he does pray to dear Gods, that I would be the only client that he has who is so damn lazy to exercise, what a black hole for the continuity of his monthly income. He even says that out loud to me once, “Hopefully, you are the only one with this habit,” while patting my shoulder repetitively, follows by, “Amen, Amen, Amen.”

I become a regular customer, just missing a membership card to this place. Lately, I even try to address the waiters with their names, which conveniently written in big letters on their nametags, pin strategically on their uniforms. I introduce myself once, to one of them. However, I guess, they can’t be bothered to remember my name. To them, I might just be one of those crazy women who are very fond of coffee with no sugar. Nevertheless, they always greet me with a big smile, “Hello again, the usual?” with an equally big smile, I would always reply, “Yes, thanks.”

Today, I probably make myself the newest entry into the wall of fame and gossip amongst the staff. Have I mention that I am between jobs, unemployed and have too much time on my hands? See, a few days ago, as usual, I was hanging at the mall. During one of my “normal” strides heading to the cafe, normal in my term – Ma always thinks that I walk too fast and in a panic mode –  I almost stop walking but didn’t, staring at this lone guy sitting at one of the tables of the café, he returned my stare and throw me a smile. I just looked at him and his smile but I know that my expression was a grim one. I didn’t feel any facial muscle pull forming something resembling a smile or a grin; I just kept on walking and by passed him on a way to nestle myself yet to the big red sofa, happy in finding it unoccupied.

Then the odd thing happened, I was restless, which I never experienced before while enjoying myself in this café. Over that lone stranger sitting at the table in front, why? Just because he was cute, bule (Caucasian) and he smiled at me? I didn’t do anything though, just tried to concentrate reading my book and glance at his back once in a while. Nevertheless, hold on, the saga continues. I went home and somehow couldn’t get the guy image out of my head, not intensively hanging in my head, he was, of course, just a passing thought which come and go ever so often. Guess what I did the following day, that’s right, I hang out at the café again and this time, yes, correct, waiting for that guy to show up.

I don’t know what is it, me and waiting, somehow, lately, all that I do is wait. Wait for a queue at the checkout counter at the supermarket, at the cinema ticket counter, wait for a turn for haircut, wait for a queue to ease at the ATM, wait for someone to finally dump me, wait for people to reply to my emails ‘begging’ them for work, wait for anything else which seem mundane and now wait for a perfect stranger, just because, he gave me a smile. I went home when the clock struck 9.50pm. Don’t want to be stranded here at the mall like the last time; I was in one of my writing frenzies, yes, you guess it, at the same café, listening to the live acoustic band as the inspirational background music. When I look up from my laptop, the waiters have started stacking the chairs around me, the band has sung its finale and the members were then sitting at the table near the stage talking amongst themselves and having their midnight snacks.

Time to go home, but when I reached the taxi stand, it was stranded. The security guard told me that all taxi normally leave the stand around 10pm or so. So, I was stranded at the almost empty mall. Camping at the mall? Didn’t sound like a very inviting idea. I called the taxi company twice and twice they told me to wait and they will try to dispatch one for me. I called for the third time, the battery left one tiny bar mark on my mobile, to panic or not to panic. “I would drive you home on my motorbike, if only I am not on duty,” the security guard told me. I thought, eh… I don’t think I would want you to drive me home, but then again, camping here or not camping here was the question. We started making small talks and he became more annoying with each minute of the conversation, then he started flirting, I could never stand people flirting with me much, something about it just make me cringe. In the middle of that critical moment, trying to decide whether I should just take the risk to walk home, which would be somewhat dangerous in this time of night, I saw, hallelujah, one adorable light blue taxi came to my rescue. Adorable, just because it saved the night for me. So now I know, my curfew would be 10pm. Unless, a friend or my sister with a car is my hanging out companion.

So, the lone cute bule stranger was nowhere to be seen. But alas, hold and behold, he is here now. As usual, I park myself at the red comfy sofa, nursing my tall white, the usual, no sugar, reading my book happily, when I look up, there he is, pulling himself a chair at a few table away in front of me. My heart start pounding, my face turn red, I yell to myself, inside my head of course, he is here! What next? In the effort to calm myself, I read 2 pages of the book that I am holding in my hand, this time, without being carry away to another time dimension of the story, of a woman’s quest in seeking for everything, I think, I am on a quest of my own now. So, think. What next, he is here! 2 pages and a half, I call one of the waiters and ask him for a pen. Hold your breath this is what I write down on the napkin, ask Kiki, the waiter, to pass on to the stranger, pointing at him, tell Kiki, “Could you please give this to that friend of mine over there, yes that bule,” pointing at him handing the note to Kiki.

Hello Stranger,

Would you like to have coffee with me? I’m paying. No, I’m not nuts.

Signed: The girl at the sofa.

Ps. If you say yes, could you please act like you know me, when you walk over here? (and draw a funny face as a closing remark, me on the napkin, not the stranger of course).

I watch Kiki passing on the napkin to him; watch him reading what is written on the napkin while he walks over to the guy. Watch the guy reading the napkin, I can only see the back of his head, but I am sure, he is on total bewilderment. I am in my own bewilderment too. This is a very odd, the strangest thing, a borderline lunatic act that I have ever done, ever, in my entire life.

Then, he turns around to look at me, flashes his smile to me, this time resembling a big grin, I hold up my coffee mug in cheer to him, flashes my own grin back at him.

You want to know what happen next? Hold on; let me tell you something else instead. This is I, after losing 7kgs of my fat. This is I, who now looks good in hot-pant and my T-shirt size has downsized from L to S. This is I, who is now getting use to carry a lady handbag instead of a backpack. Me, who is now getting use to carry a lipstick tube and a compact powder complete with little mirror in my lady handbag. Me, who is recently discovered the magic of pedicure and manicure. Sarah Boone, who is nowadays, can look at her reflection and tell herself quietly, saying,” You don’t look bad at all, missy. Quite presentable, I must say.” Yippie! My hairdo with its wavy natural look perm looks great too.

The napkin! Yes, the napkin finds its way back to my hands, Kiki hands it over to me with a twinkle eyes and a kind of smile that I can’t decode in an instance. On the flip side of the note that I write on a few minutes ago, here is what the cute bule stranger engraved his reply in Indonesian: “Maaf, sedang tunggu istri. Terima kasih ya!” – Sorry, waiting for the wife. Thank you eh!

I feel like laughing my head off. Between my embarrassment and indifference, I just sit there continue to read my book, in “earnest” sipping my coffee like nothing ever happen. Few minutes later, I find myself easing back in my original slumber, supported by the cushions all around me, folding my legs up on the sofa, kick off my comfortable yet chic platform sandals, light up a cig and inhale. Then, in between the story that my book serenades, a thought passes through my head, “Oh MY GOD! The waiters might think that I’m a hooker!”

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My mobile phone rings. “I love you, Sarah. I love you. I love you.” It’s MY POTATO. This is the first time that he ever calls me since that teary goodbye at Palmerston North’s airport. I have been waiting for so long to hear that 3 little words from him. Yet, when it finally happening, I am stunt, I am happy, of course, but stunt speechless. For once, I don’t have a quick witty come back for a reply. Should I say, thank you? Slowly, all senses come back to me and I feel like hugging everything in sight. He loves me. He loves me. He loves… eh… “I am not in love with you.” That was what he said once on that doomsday, on that last few weeks before my departure. Now, 9 months down the road and being so far apart from each other, he loves me? Is this possible? Is this real? Am I truly, loveable? Are we, truly, an US, a WE, a you-and-me thingy, a pair? 9 December 2008, mark that, mark that, MY POTATO LOVES ME.

Two months later, the postman delivers my overdue Christmas present. I find potato smiling at me on a play back VCD wishing me Merry Christmas and THAT section, “I love you Sarah, I love you, I love you … Merry Christmas.” THAT section has been replay again and again and again and again. I, me, the whole that I am, love you too. I’m in tears, I’m in laughter, and I’m in every stage of emotional turmoil that alleviates me. I love you, for the first time, these words ring crystal clear for me. This is not a movie, this not a romance novel, this is not a story someone’s told me about someone’s someone they know. This is me, my life, my story and I am loved, me, I, do love you.

My Facebook’s status changes from Single to In relationship with KiwiStag01, in relationship with KiwiStag01 … in relationship with. Me, in a relationship!

****

Back anticipating that “Cooling Down” flashes from the treadmill’s screen again today, uh ah uh ah uh ah, go away hamster! I am pissed today and I refuse to conjure your image. In my mind head, I can see her poke her wiggly butt in my direction and snort away holding her nose up high in the air after eyeing me evil.

“Am I correct to think that you would be a kind of guy that would not compromise if you think you are right and do not do anything wrong, no matter how I complain, explain, regardless of how I feel about it and so on and so forth, you will not budge and will never compromise and basically will just expect me to figure it out by myself and accept that you are right and I should just live with it or else?”

My anger fuelling this mill, I walk, faster and faster.

What is that sentence? I flash an angry look at that big wide window in front of me, I can see the picture of that nicely shaped lady with her cool smile, but what is that sentence? traeh regnorts dliuB. Bugger!! Who cares!

I grip the handle bar tighter and walk even faster increasing the speed on the machine. What are you smiling at lady? I growl at the lady picture. Walk even faster and squeezes close my eyes.

“Miss, you are making a very nice view for me from behind.” I snap open my eyes and aiming to kill looking for the source of that voice. Noval, the PT is standing next to me, smiling cheekily.

Before I can say anything, he reached over and reduce the timing on the mill to 3 minutes counting down, “Come on, let’s exercise, you don’t need to be on this for that long, 15 minutes warm-up is enough.”

“Oh,” I force out a smile at him in a haze. I guess, the anger has just cool a several notch down and I realise that my legs hurt from that entire anger fuelled walk.

I am going to call him later, I miss him, I need to talk to him. 3 days is a long enough suffering for me and I don’t really have the energy to maintain this anger anymore. About what, exactly, actually? I somehow forget what the cause of our fight was. I just miss my potato. I need to talk to him.

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“On behalf of everyone from the K Co-op, I would like to thank you for all your help, and most of all your friendship. We’ve grown close together, you are one of us, and you are family. This is not goodbye; this is just one of those phases of our journey. There is no word that I can use to express our gratitude here, without your guidance; we won’t be as what we are today.”

I look around me and try to absorb the entire warm glow from each and every one of these group of people, warm, simple, generous, kind, thoughtful, caring individuals, and trying hard not to break down in tears. This appreciation that they bestow on me is so much welcome, in a way, I feel so self-conscious, wrecking my brain trying to figure out what I have done to deserve such gratitude. Yet, my soul soar tonight, my heart takes wings and my smile almost crack open my jaw. I drank; I sip greedily as this is the highlight of my works. This is my achievement, this is my pride. This is the nectar of life that I store dearly safely tucked on that special corner of my being. This is the moment of reveries that I will be needing when life takes that wrong turn again and I am left alone again and lost, again. This is my string of pearls, this is my invisible tattoo, and this is the fountain where I draw my courage from to move on, to keep on trying, to put one step one after another. This is the core of my self-survival mechanism.

I have been working with these groups of people almost all the time in my career path. From one place to the other, this revealing kind of moments when others make me aware that I am needed and that I am useful, is what makes me grow and grow I did, am and will.

****

“Fasten your seatbelt, M’am.” Smile the stewardess while lightly tapping me on the shoulder waking me up from my day-dream. The plane from Medan to Jakarta is crowded as always, people from all sort of passage almost all with their heavy hand carry and wait until the plane landed, the conveyor bell will surely be full with rows and rows of big luggage, boxes big and small, all sort of odd packages and of course roll cakes’ boxes. Funny, from all of the culinary delights, why people decide on Medan’s roll cakes, it is a phenomenon on itself to me.

Glancing to my left, two heavy-set of men are sitting in row.  Enjoy my window seat you, think I while flash eyeing the guy next to the window. I don’t like the aisle seat, but then again, it is better than the middle seat. I surely wouldn’t want to be stuck between these two big birds. I never have any complain for leg room, short as mine, I can snugly fit in most places. But, in a small plane, economic seat, I need my elbow room, thank you very much. The sure bet will be window seat, or ok, fine aisle seat, at least I can lean to the side and take up as much elbow room as I can secure. “Sorry,” says a lady passing by struggling with her large handbag and a sizeable shopping bag on each arm. Did I mention that when sitting in aisle seat don’t start leaning to the side to take ownership of that comfy extra space before the plane took off? You will only annoy yourself and other passengers. Wait, sit straight, read your book or blank your mind, when airborne, then attack. I mean, take up that space.  Occasionally, you will annoy the air hostesses when they have to manoeuvre around your elbow, but then again you’re the paying passenger; take that privilege to be a jerk once in a while.

Closing my eyes and folding my arms close to me, trying to block away all the chatty people around me. Obviously also giving a clear sign to the guy next to me, to stop asking further questions than where are you going? Mister, we are sitting inside the same plane, my boarding ticket surely mentions Jakarta, and the same as yours I’m sure. Oh yeah, true, I can always be on my transit to Timbuktu. Breath, breath, relax, negative thought be gone. A baby cries somewhere and a child start nagging her mum for something. Lady, please whatever she wants, just give it to her. I open my eyes and glance across the aisle, an old lady smiles at me and offering me a piece of her snacks. I smile and politely shake my head, “No, thanks, M’am,” and quickly as politeness permit, which is by slowly moving my head to a straight neckline forming 90 degree alignment to my shoulder while maintaining that smile, I return to my catatonic position, she might want to know where I am going too. Beat me, where am I going, actually?

God in heaven, oh the mighty powerful being, who ever and where ever you are, this is my last work trip, soon I will be unemployed, please please please ensure that this period will be as smooth as possible. Please please please, let me be by my potato’s side when it is time for me to scan that newspapers again and browse the net for an inkling of any promising and suitable job. Please, hear me, please, by the way, you can send me one of your rainbows, I haven’t seen one lately. That is not too much to ask, right? Just a rainbow please, then I know you heard me and things will be just fine. Ok fine, next time soon eh? Today is just too bright and muggy, a rainbow is yes, indeed too much to ask for now.

Life is not simple, I know, injustice prevails most of the time. I have witness first hand, many of that. You would think that a fair trading system designed with disadvantages producers in mind, will do exactly that, correcting the bias trading system. But, think again, it is actually not how it is done in practice. Maybe I am being too harsh, but from this past 10 years, I am more convince that there is truly indeed that something is fundamentally not right. What exactly it is? The design of the system? The people operating the system? There are surely many variables that you can analyse for any given situation, but the rule of thumb will always differentiate the root to two broad categories, the system design or the people. These two are also interlinked; unqualified people will design an inadequate system. I am not talking about people credibility in the forms of hard-earned institution disperse papers or even about their long listed experiences, but their ability to see and walk in the shoes of the disadvantage. I am not talking about complete range of grand design from needs assessment to monitoring and evaluating and fancy long-winded academically written periodical reports plus a state of the art infrastructure, but a people system that evolve and adjust by, for and with the disadvantage.

An idealist, I am, yes. A hypocrite, I am, yes. Acknowledging that I have to enable myself to walk in their shoes and see life from their eyes, is something quite different when it comes down to action it all in. No matter how it is, I am always going to be the outsider, a visitor, who come for a visit, performing my tasks, pack up, leave and back to my own privilege life. My life will always be in contrast with theirs. My material advantage, my surrounding, and my support functions will always give me a better head start. In all honesty, I am the one who is soaking my life in them and taking advantage of their disadvantage. They are my job, my work, my career object; they are my source of income, but most of all they are the source of my sense of well-being. I might have contributed to their daily predicaments by just doing my job, I would never know for sure. My emotional attachment and dedication are seasonal, chain to my immediate present and involvement in any given task. When I pack my bag and move on, I leave their lives behind me, their lives carry on as always. I would like to think that I made a difference, tiny as it is, during my stay, deep down inside, I hope I have carry a bit of their weight.

See that big bright yellow double arches shaping M? You probably never consider it to be one of THE fancy places to eat. 14 of us do. We are a group of 15 women, young and old, 14 of us born and take up resident in a small village on a foothill of a mountain, 1 of us a temporal resident logging with one of the village leaders, ‘adopted’ as one of the ‘family’ members. This one is also the village leader, in a sense; she is the manager of the community centre. And yet, she is an outsider. The village is our eco-tourism project, the ladies are our village guides, trained to bring warm hospitality to the venturing guests. They are our ambassadors to the outside world looking in.

“Anyone fancy an ice cream?” I smile broadly, thinking that a trip to this mall will not be complete without ice cream. We are sitting in this standardise white, yellow and red world franchise setting, joining 6 of its red-white tables forming a long island of our own temporarily with two rows of yellow chairs. “So, ice cream everyone, I’m paying,” noticing intuitively that somehow my 14 companions have switch to a bit of awkward demeanour. Then, come shy nods around me, and the mist lifts and chatty chat of 14 women spring back to life.

“It’s our free time, if you want, you can have a look around at the shops, and I’ll wait for you here. Don’t worry, I won’t go anyway heheheheh. How about we meet here around 5pm, in an hour? Then we can all go back to the inn, rest a bit before dinner time.”

“Why don’t you come with us?”

“Nah, I’ll be fine here, I don’t like shopping, so ladies, go ahead.”

“I’ll stay with you then,” says some of the older women, “It’s been a long day, and it’s nice to sit here, in air-con room eating ice cream.”

“Hehheheh my thought exactly, Inaq (Madam or mother in Sasak, Lombok local dialect).”

All the younger ladies and some of the older after finishing their ice cream start going about in twos or threes. Me and few Inaqs, we enjoy our ice cream slowly and chat mundanely. In less than half an hour, the first trios come back in sight. “Eh? So soon?” I greet them back. “Ya, we miss you hahhahahah.” Then, soon the pairs and the small bands start appearing back. “Eh? So soon?” Parroting like a dumb bird, I say. Knowing smiles broke all around the occupied chairs now and I am kind of puzzled.

“Everything is so expensive, I saw this beautiful outfit for my son, but it is more than 100.000 Rupiah for a shirt.” All the other chime in and describing their same desire, a hat for a daughter, a toy for a son, a pair of slippers for grandma and so on, souvenirs for the love ones at home. I sit there stunt as if someone has just slap me hard one person at a time. I am sooooo… sorry… all kind of thoughts rush through my mind. Stupid person, inconsiderate person, the big words I heard playing in my head over and over again. I scan their faces, are they masters of camouflage? There are no sad lines on their face. Should I be relief? A big slap lands again on my left cheek, this time I know my brain is keeping me in check and remind me of something fundamental that I should have been aware of. I am sooo… sorry … my dear friends, I didn’t know, I should have been more sensitive.

The plane lands with a sharp jerk, shaking me back to the now.

“This is Jakarta, eh?” exclaims one of the big birds beside me while yawning a big yawn. “Eh… maybe Timbuktu, Pak… (Pak/Bapak – Sir in Indonesian)” I grin loonilly at him and walk away quickly with my sling bag.

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