Archive for January, 2010

Returned to Oz

January 10, 2010

Everyone keeps saying, in strong Australian twangs, “You’ve come full circle”. And I suppose I have, ending in the very same place I left a year and ten months ago. After a year working in Indonesia and travel stints in Canada and South America, with dread and an empty bank account I returned to my hometown.

I was scared that I had changed and more that I hadn’t. I was terrified of Australia and Australians and, in particular, the accent. And so I hid from the quaint, beachside town. I hid from my friends and telecommunication. Locked in a weatherboard house, I dreamt of other places.

But eventually cultural cringe subsided and I finally left the house. I became romantic and wistful, and I began to love this sun-drenched country once again.

While I thought I would be soon moving on, I stumbled upon employment at a local newspaper. And in an instant my trajectory changed. No more suitcases. No more backpacks. No more coming and no more going. In 2010, I am staying put, under clear skies and amid gumtrees, with sand forever in my bed.

At least as long as I do

January 7, 2010


Last week I moved, again. I packed up 40 kilograms of possessions, divided them in two piles: Those needed for backpacking in Spain, those I’d take with me to my next fixed address in Amsterdam.

I was clearing up scraps of paper, train tickets and other bits of rubbish I always attach excessive sentimentality to. In place of people that can’t be brought along. I put on Cold Chisel because I needed a rock that afternoon. Soundtrack to a teenagehood driving on open roads for hours, where you never really moved from the one place. My Australian childhood. Working out exactly what that is requires comparative study.

Hej Hej Denmark. Hola Spain: go easy on me. Only credibility I’ve got is a pure bloodline and a surname as common as pan (that´s bread in the language I am far more comfortable with). Wondering if Spain will be one of my anchor points, or if this is just a pilgrimage of obligation. Often try to work out which countries will make the cut in the long run, which ones will just blur in nostalgic appreciation for the travel calling. Yesterday I changed direction walking and tracked a man in the street for a few minutes because he was speaking Indonesian on his mobile.

It’s New Years but I’m not making any new resolutions. Are you finally getting old when the anniversaries roll around, and you realize that to get things done, you’re just going to have to work at it everyday? Some mornings I forget that, others I get myself back on track. When I was little I didn’t even know you had to make that kind of an effort once you’d grown up.

In transition, on a mission

January 6, 2010

I started 2009 cutting my hair really short. I’m leaving it to grow as I leave it. I have a mission. I’m in transition.

In 2009, I loved, I hid, I pretended, I lost, I told the truth, I hurt, I forgive, I made friends, I got inspired, I struggled, I worked hard, I learn.

I am now in waiting, which makes me nervous. Future possibilities fill my heart with excitement. But the thought of failure scares me and puts me down in seconds. Jakarta is like a demanding lover that you love and hate simultaneously. Or at least, that is how I feel.

If things don’t go as planned. I will view my life like in Greek tragic art. It’s easier to endure failure if you can blame it on superhuman gods. After that, I will try again.

Thinking of a resolution

January 6, 2010

I’ve made enough New Year’s resolutions to understand that my resolutions are almost always far-fetched.

At least ten years ago one of my resolutions was to stop eating meat. The timing couldn’t have been more right, as it was then that the great economy crisis hit the country right where it hurts the most: the colon.

When the clock stroke at midnight this New Year, I was wide awake on my over possessive bed, focusing on my handwriting, which had gotten pretty “tidier” by the year.

Tossing and turning in a semi-deprived state of consciousness, flashes of my striving to achieve my resolutions came to mind—in montages. Fiddling with my might; not a pretty sight.

I once vowed to avoid speaking in slangs, for fear of contributing to the “destruction” of Indonesian language. And then there was the time when I set out on a quest to understand the true meaning of the concept of love, which brought me to my semi-deprived state of consciousness. And then there was also that time when I vowed to keeping my hair forever green.

It becomes clear that I am not to make any new resolutions this year, but to continue with my quest. Only this time, in a better way.

So here's a photograph of me thinking of a resolution,