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Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm home...

The girl standing silently on the 3rd floor porch. Her eyes gazing towards the horizon, where planes busily take off and land. She seems oblivious to the slum below, just beyond the hotel room, or to the dark river running near it. A little smile broke off her indifferent face, "Riverview hotel indeed." she thought. From where she stands, she might be in Jakarta or other Sin City instead of Denpasar. She gazed lovingly to her dear friend who is praying inside the room. The airtight door separates the porch to the room inside, blocking the cold evening wind and the darkness that starts to fall. The light from a car passing below caught her attention, but then she look back to the horizon. Her cigarettes burning brightly in the night, she thought about the familiar scene, the familiar companion, and she whispered, "I'm home..."

If home is where the heart is, that means I have two homes. The first one is Bali, where the land and my ancestors call me (though I failed to listen most of the times), and the second one is Jakarta, where (almost) all of my friends are.
Many people that I met thinks I'm crazy for missing a city that is dearly polluted, heavily congested by automobiles and (sometimes) flood. Where the bad guys lurking in every corner, and pushy hawkers parade in every other road. But I spend almost all of my 20-something life there, and to me it's always gonna be my home.

My friend in Australia describes his first days in Sydney as "Awful. My stomach churns and I felt I can't breathe. It looks so dark and I don't know what to do, where to go. It's more to the fact that I know I have no one here than the new surroundings. Just want to lurk in the corner and go away, far away. Just wanna go home." I'm in Bali, the land of my ancestors, I shouldn't feel that way, right? Wrong.

Just like my friend, it was more about having no one here than about the new surroundings. Slowly but sure I adapt to the surrounding. The lament of having no movie theater disappear, new films aren't that good anyway. The frustration of having no affordable food fade away, as I embark in cheap yet satisfying culinary trips by my own. The skyscraper madness can't be ebbed away, but Bajra Sandhi is quite tall, and beaches are as vast as possible. Step by step, day by day, I feel at home in this island. But once I interact with the people, the homesick waves struck me again.

It didn't happen all the time, of course. But it happens. Especially to people that I so longed as friends. Mutual conversation is never as easy as it seems here. Where I exchange news around Jakarta, exchanging tips and anecdotes of our companies (he works in mining, I'm in sales, we manage ;) ), to the latest political stunts and tricks around the world. Here I could never get the conversation flight off from the line "where do you live?". It's not that I'm superior, heaven no. It's just because it was different. Like a chimpanzee being loose in the desert. He'll adapt to it, but it's just not his habitat. And I'm stranded here out side my habitat.

Every now and then my friends will come over to Bali. And for that brief moment, that luxurious moment, I'm home again. Body and soul. I said to all my friends I'll be back home on 2013, but before he flew back to Jakarta my friend smiled and say: See you back home in 2011. I will be home, soon.

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