Mika – a friend through CAGI (Canadians Advocacy Group on Indonesia) and Asia Regional Officer from Rights and Democracy – dropped me an e-mail saying that she’s just arrived at Jakarta on January 28. She stays until Feb. 3. And, since I will be out of the country starting tomorrow until Feb 4, then we kind of agreed to meet for dinner on the 30th.
The workload has never ceased a bit since the first week of January. Today I needed to focus and followed my list of priorities if I wanted to see Mika and had dinner with her after my office hour. First, we made plan to meet at Starbuck in Djakarta Theatre area. She said she needed to go there to check her e-mails and did a bit of work.
There… thousands of miles from Montreal, I met Mika again. We hugged each other and started to catch up on each other’s life. I waited for sometime until she finished checking her e-mails. She wanted to eat Indonesian’s food and she didn’t mind to eat at food stalls by the streets. But, I didn’t want her to get stomach upset. So, I suggested us to have dinner at Satay House, Kebon Sirih branch. What, a coincidence – this is the place she thought she’d like to have dinner!
Off we went to Satay House. She kept repeating she was curious on what I’m doing in Indonesia and haven’t returned to Canada for more than a year *smile*. And, with a friend time flies like Superman – in this case about two hours while we’re having our conversation, beer, gado-gado (Indonesia’s famous salad with peanut sauce and chips), tahu telor (a special food consisted of tofu, fried egg, bean sprout, cabbage, and tasty soy sauce from East Java), sop buntut (oxtail soup), and sate (grilled and skewered chicken, beef, lamb, and chicken skin). He, he,… can you believe two women can finish all those stuffs? *smile*
We talked almost about anything and everything. I love to hear her story:
- She‘s working on four papers at the moment. One of them is about Asia’s indigenous women. The projects made her traveling to Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia. (She stayed with her friend while she’s in Cambodia, and she made me promised to visit Angkor Wat once in my life. It’s the most beautiful place on earth, she said, even better than the Pyramid and the Great Wall of China!) She’s exhausted from working on four papers – and that’s why I said, I wanted her to eat and had beer with me *smile*.
- She stayed out of Canada for about 12 years since she’s 18 years old. She stayed in Yogya and Lumajang for quite sometime – that’s why she can pick up some Indonesia’s day-to-day conversation.
- Although she’s been traveling to Asia’s countries in the past 20 years, she still finds it irritating when people ask her about her age, or whether she married, has husband and children. Well, I find it irritating too – but, I don’t care anymore now. People in Indonesia still find a single women (never married) as weird, have problems, too picky, too demanding. When you say confidently that you’re single, never been married, and don’t have children – then, these people would say sorry. Oh, my goodness… what to sorry about? I’m not sorry about me being single, don’t have husband and children. Being single in Indonesia is like being a person with disability *smile*. Mika said that right now when she travels in Asia she will say that she’s married and have children – she said it’s safe that way *smile*.
- She also told me about meeting Carmel Budiardjo – an 84-year old, brave and strong lady. Mika said at eighty something Carmel still has a razor-sharp mind. I think if I have the chance I also would like to meet this lady.
- She missed avocado coffee that used to be on the menu of Café Excelso in Plaza Indonesia *smile*.
- She was still denied an entrance to Burma because of her human rights activities for Burma.
- She told me about a joke – that Indonesians would rather die quickly than slowly. Why? Because Indonesians don’t care about bird flu epidemic but would queue to get kerosene *smile*.
I dropped her at her hotel and bid her farewell because I will not be able to see her again before she returns to Canada. Yes, Mika, I promise to stay at your house when I visit Montreal. Sure, I will *smile*.
I reached home around eleven at night – and still needed to pack my things for my trip tomorrow…