Monday, 13 December 2010

Saying goodbye to the old neighbourhood

Over the weekend I more or less got settled into a new apartment, in a new part of town. Moving has the well-deserved reputation of being a burdensome process, but we got there in the end, despite some lingering loose ends. While at this stage she may choose to shirk the issue, I moved due to a then mutual need to be closer to the woman mentioned here and here, and let me now take this moment to apologize publically for any lingering biterness I express to her; heart and head almost never being in perfect syncopation with one another.

The old neighbourhood, Kemayoran, definitely has its drawbacks when compared to the new one. The bajaj races, in what would otherwise be the dead of night, being chiefly among them! There is also the absurd number of two-stroke engined motorbikes which gather in the vicinity on a Saturday night for no good reason, and the infernal attitude toward pedestrian facilities which both local developers and planning committees conspire to perpetuate.

All that having being said, Kemayoran was the first place I lived when I first came to Jakarta in 2000, and because it was convenient, when I came back to live here again after two years elsewhere, I lived in Kemayoran again. That's a total of about nine years which will not be forgotten easily.

During my first stay, I shared a flat with a neverending list of colourful characters. Many of whom remain close friends to this day. I had several ill-fated relationships with women while living in Kemayoran too, including the woman I married. The relationships may not have been destined for longevity, including my marriage, but it just isn't possible to erase such episodes from one's life. The bad and the good. You expect to grow wiser with the benefit of age and experience, but like so many others since the dawn of time, I'm in possession of that rogue gene which dictates we treat every such situation with a wild array of irrational emotions. The last situation is definitely taking a deeper toll than previous ones, and a flat in Kemayoran was the venue for a seemingly endless number of trysts with her. And for her, an element of secrecy was indeed an issue. 

The last couple of years living in Kemayoran happily involved the presence of an Indian restaurant. It isn't the most glamorous place, but whatever is wanting in frills is compensated for by the charm that only a neighbourhood restaurant can have. And, while this is often a strangely low priority of flashy, trendy eateries, the food at The Avenue was some of the best tasting Indian food I've ever had. It was also home to many a memorable occasion in the company of friends, some living in the city, and others just passing through to say hello. The curry was fine, the beer was cold and they would stay open late in deference to those who weren't done reveling. What more could one ask for?

I also spent a great deal of time at the restaurant in the company of that last special person. While she liked the food, she also wanted to keep our meals local because she said it meant we could spend more quality time together that way. That could be interpreted as meaning impending doom was always in the air, or possibly that no matter how much time we had together, it would never seem like enough.

The new place we're at means a new, and different, chapter in the lives of myself and my son. We have a lot more space to play in, both inside and out. In fact, the amenities of the new complex and surrounding area are so vastly superior to that which we previously enjoyed that on the face of it, there really is no comparison. Mind you, the traffic is worse than I'm accustomed to, but my odd working hours help alleviate this concern to a certain degree.

I can't complain too much. I am as materialistic as the next person when it comes to obvious, and needed, improvements in quality of life. But despite there being a vast variety of restaurants available, none of them serves a curry with cold beer. And among the many beautiful people whom I now share space with, so numerous as to be unavoidable, and generally dressed to kill, not one has quite the face I continue to look for.

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