As soon as I knew that I’d be having client’s meeting in Makassar I contacted Tito to get Ulla’s mobile number. I told Ulla that I’d like to meet him when I was in Makassar.
When I was in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport waiting to board GA610 for Makassar I text him saying that I’d arrive there around four in the afternoon. (I was glad that the weather was good during the flight to Makassar… Well, after the Adam Air fatal accident in the beginning 2007 everybody is so edgy to fly to Makassar.)
Ulla called me on my way to the Imperial Aryaduta Hotel. I was so glad to hear his voice – it’s been almost 10 years since we last met in Jakarta. We decided to meet after I was done with my client’s meeting.
I met Ulla today! He picked me up in the hotel. He showed me the area (Tanjung Bunga) developed by Lippo Group. We entered Akkarena Beach in Tanjung Bunga area and had drinks during our conversation.
About two hours went by in just a blink of eyes. We caught up on things in the past 10 years. He has two children, in the fifth and sixth grade. He talked lengthy about how he started his business in Makassar (two heavy-equipment rental grew to sixteen in just three years), how he tried to venture into the palm oil plantation in Central Sulawesi (some 300 km from Poso), and how his dream – a 350-hectare palm oil plantation in its third year – was gone in just a blink of eyes due to Poso conflict. Yes, he had to flee the conflict area with nothing in his possession but the clothes he wore. He said that he was the witness and the victim of provocateurs who’re still playing the game of divide-et-impera. For six months he couldn’t face and didn’t want to talk to his friends. I could imagine how it felt. But, I admire his fighting spirit especially during that time. He’s still Ulla, the friend I’ve known since 1984.
Now, he’s the member of PAN (a political party in Indonesia). He starts to build his network and business from scratch. I told him that he should be proud of himself – not many people can survive after a critical challenge or test in their life. He’s the survivor, a true winner in this life. I love to hear him mentioning about his wife, kids, and how they sometimes spend their weekends.
In the rainy early night we drove back to my hotel. We bid farewell and promised to keep in touch.