The cab driver and korupsi berjemaah

I think I am about to get sick.

I am not sure if it is from eating too much sambal and other spicyΒ  lip smacking Indo food.. OR from drinking too much teh botol Sostro… OR the air pollution here from the traffic.. OR from the lack of rest.. OR for the fact I braved myself to eat soto from a street vendor today, just for the experience.

We bought books. Yes, more books. Books are awfully cheap here. We bought books by Pramoedya and El-Shirazy, DEBU cd and oh, bumped into the lead singer of DEWA at the supermarket yesterday. And ate way too much, ( that would be me ) as the chili padi laden Indo food is just so perfect for me. PERFECT.

Saw homeless, barefooted kids along the street we are staying on. Saw ghetto areas and squatters area. The husband kept saying again and again that Jakarta reminds him so much of Mexico City where he worked. Where the filthy rich live side by side with the dirt poor in stark contrast.

Two things I will always remember about Jakarta.

1. A taxi driver, when driving along rows of government building nonchalantly told us, ‘ Ini semua gedung kerajaan pak.. bu.. Semua orang dalam gedung ini korup nih.. malah, korupsi dalam ini semua bukan sekadar tahap sembahyang pak.. Korupsi nya udah tahap berjemaah !’ … we cracked up real bad in the taxi with laughter. That was a real honest to goodness introduction to his country in a very ‘selambe’ manner.

2. Hospitality level is very high and adab wise, I couldn’t ask for more, seriously.

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Street Urchins and Asian Beverly Hills

I would like to write more but I have less than half an hour left before this thing logs itself off.

Jakarta on the first day was spent in the the infamous macet ( traffic jam ), entertained by cab drivers’ tongue in cheek outlook to life in Indonesia, of a mad rush to find a kebaya for myself at the 11th hour, of delicious Soto Malang and Es Teller at Jln Thamrin, of catching up with good friends and marveled how their kids grew up beautifully.

Jakarta, the grime, the terrible traffic, the polluted air, the beautifully hospitable people, really awesome food and the nice apartment we got ourselves into. Of staying on the same street as where Obama went to school when he was a kid ( ahaks… the cab driver just had to stress that ;p ).

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Today was more eventful. Very tiring but in a good way. The wedding was beautiful. Iyok is a married man now…The food was A+++, the company was awesome. Met up with people I have been meaning to meet up with for the longest time. Heru, it’s been almost five years !!! You and Ira …you guys are just such wonderful people. Thanks mates ! Next trip? See you in Sulawesi insya Allah. πŸ™‚

Chapek nihhh … oh yes, Heru, if you are reading this, we had Nasi Uduk Gondangdia with bebek bakar and pecel lele. Took bajai there from Cikini. Enaknya mintak ampunnnn ;p

Antara Anyir dan Jakarta

…. kita jatuh cinta..

So sang Sheila Majid.

So percicilan will be on rest for a little while with more traveling news one can use. πŸ™‚

It’s off to the land of Sinetrons and Bakso and my favourite Teh Botol Sostro.

Jakarta and Surabaya, here we come … insya Allah :p

Immigration and Other Stuffs

I was at the Immigration Department today, to renew my visa for long term stay. The last time I was there was a year ago, where I was granted a 1 Year Visa, a sticker in my bright red passport which says I am allowed to stay in Malaysia for a year without any penalty, and that I am not a tourist, but any form of employment is strictly prohibited.

Now, the Immigration Department is a very interesting place to be at. I could write a novel by just sitting down, observing everyone. Each has a story. It could be the spouses of Malaysians trying to beg for their PRs, or foreign workers/students trying to extent their stays, children of Malaysians born abroad, ‘pendatang haram’ finally caught and having to face the immigration issues, over stayers etc. And the drama sometimes can be quite surreal. I know because I was once in one of them.

It was 2006 December. I was on my extended visa, in which out of sheer stupidity and being a stubborn mule, I told the husband, never mind lah no need to renew it because that year we were in and out of Malaysia very often. So the last place we were at before that incident was Brisbane, and barely a month plus of touching down in Malaysia, we were supposed to leave for Christmas in Frankfurt. The husband kept reminding me to renew my visa, but I told him, never -mindlah, this is Malaysia, Malaysia boleh what…! Thinking that I could get away with not renewing my long term Malaysian Visa, which by then was 2 weeks overdue.

Then we were in KLIA. Checked in. Our luggages all set. The husband was all excited to see his family. In Wiesbaden his aunt was already waiting for our call in case we needed to be picked up. Luggages all on board Emirates. Then, I was stopped at the counter where they stamped my passport. ‘Puan…’ The man behind the counter grimly looked at me. ‘ Passport puan visa dia dah overdue. Puan dah melanggar undang-undang… overstaying ni !’

Damn. I overlooked one factor. People from my country are only allowed 30 days maximum in Malaysia. I have stayed about 40 days without renewing my visa.

We were in a fix. The husband tried to appeal saying that we really needed to board that flight and he tried to negotiate saying he really need to see his family and all, but the officer grimly said ‘You can go sir, but your wife has to stay and settle her immigration issues OR else, we get the airport police to put her in lokap tonight and send her to immigration tomorrow.’

The last thing I wanted to do is to have a record that I have been locked up in a Malaysian cell. Oh so tidak!!! I am adventurous yes, but NOT to THAT extend.

I thank God very much that moment for having such a patient and doting husband that he calmly requested for our luggages to be brought down from the planes, made arrangements for another Emirates flight the day after next so we can spend the next day sorting my Visa out. I felt guilty as hell. My stupidity and stubborn-ness caused him 2 days less of spending time with his family. And it showed on his face.

So the next day came and the first thing in the morning, we went to the Immigration. I had to beg for my case to be a genuine case of forgetfulness ( although I was more of being stubborn ) that I didn’t check my VISA. I had to be questioned ( interrogated ? ) and I literally had to plead with the officer to let me off because it was not my attention to over stay without permit.

He let me off with a stern warning and having to pay the minimum fine of Rm 100 as required by the law.

So Malaysia is not so boleh after all. ( in a good way too ! )

Anyway, we got back to the airport less than 48 hours later with a very repented me, having said sorry to the husband for a gazillion times and cursing myself for being a mule.

And everyday, at the Immigration Department, there are more of such stories, but some with more colours to it.

Today, the lady officer offered me a 5 year visa to stay in Malaysia. I was overjoyed !!! I love it here, seriously. I had some terrible first few months adjusting to the not so efficient side of things but looking past that and looking for it’s beauty and richness, I found heaps. But alas, it was not my rezeki. Her boss didn’t approve of it and he just approved for me to be here another year. So next year, on this date, I would have to appear at the Immigration Department again, with a muka kesian applying for yet another year to be on this Tanah Melayu.

Just like him

Went to buy my outfit for Aikido class later. Our first class this evening. Given that the scales for me have tipped greatly to the other side of late, I have to admit, I look strangely but expectedly like him…

Image taken from here.

I know I find Kung Fu Panda cute. But to look like him and all the ‘babats’ in the package, it’s so not cool. Actually, now that I looked into the mirror, I look more like Kung Fu Hippo.

Time after time

Was shopping at the supermarket last night when a song was played. There was this non-local couple who suddenly dropped their basket and started to slow dance in the aisle. I stood there watching them for a moment, grinning. The song must have meant something to them. I thought that was sweet and cute. When the song ended ( and I have since chosen my baking stuffs ), they stopped dancing and resumed their shopping, smiling from ear to ear. I smiled at them.

I like people who can stop and smell the roses and capture the moment.

Moving on and learning

More or less, other than having to deal with a sick and clingy Milo post his brother’s death, I think I have come to terms ( a bit ) with Seuss‘ departure from us. Nevertheless, I still hold my breath each time I see Milo walking towards the gate. Like a deja-vu that I have to learn to stop from coming into my mind. I thought the accident was going to affect my exams today but thankfully, it didn’t.

The exams being over, I can go back to my reading. I hope to finish this book

Image taken from Wikipedia

Which has been given to me quite some time ago but I got distracted with other books and didn’t continue from where I stopped with this one.

I am also very excited with the coming trip, which is coming soon and sooner by the day and in fact, it will be next week πŸ™‚ insya Allah… More than anything else, the trip will mean I get to see some friends I have been meaning to catch up with for the longest time.

There are things I set myself to accomplish before I leave Malaysia, if we ever do leave at all …( I am getting a tad too comfortable here and loving it ).

1. Learn how to sew Baju Kurung, Baju Melayu and Kebaya.

2. Learn to cook at least 3 dishes from each state. So far I am doing good with more than 3 dishes of Pahang and my Gulai Lemak Ikan Patin was a huge success with our guests some time ago. ehem-ehem πŸ˜›

3. Read all of A Samad Said books.

4. Learn a Malay art/culture/craft. I contemplated learning about Malay dance or batik painting. But I don’t know where to go for those.

So far while I have been here, I have been going for business marketing classes at KDMC, German classes at Goethe Institute Kuala Lumpur, baking classes at Kota Damansara, belly dancing classes by ElWardah Dance Academy and online courses on http://www.sunnipath.com .

Next week both the husband and I will insya Allah start on our Aikido class. On why we decided to learn that Japanese martial arts instead of others is another story altogether. And really, really really, it has nothing to do with me enjoying the latest hit cartoon, Kung Fu Panda. Heee πŸ˜‰

At the risk of sounding like a geek, ( which I don’t mind being one, if I am not one already ) learning is fun, as I always tell my students. It is definitely more exciting than whining, complaining and blogging about negative things government/world/life/society do to us or how bad the world is. Those things just sink one down down down the mud pit even further, I feel.

Blue skies ahead !