New Year's Eve in Jakarta

 

New Years Eve! What a wild time we had (if your definition of wild equals being unconscious by 10 PM, than wild it was. But these are preg lady rules, so.)

 

Stella and I decided to make a night out. We roasted a chicken and had a candle-lit dinner, fancy napkins and all. Then, we headed down to the hotel lobby to “See da people singing at da big party.” 

 

 

I wasn’t sure how Miss. Stella would react to “da big party” as she’s not usually one for noise, and boy was there a lot of noise that night. But, this kid was in her element. There was even (an excruciatingly long) moment where she rushed the stage, and got up right in front of the performers and started singing along with the band. I mean, you guys, she was doing do-wop arm movements. And dances. And singing along to songs she didn’t know into a pretend microphone.

 

I was doing my very best to give her stern and disapproving looks, and insisting that she GETDOWNFROMTHERERIGHTNOW but I failed utterly, because I was too busy trying not to pee in my pants from laughter. And I mean, come on. The whole thing was just utterly delightful. 

 

Mr. Chef was working on New Year’s Eve, such is the curse of the hospitality world. And my goodness, what a long night it was for him, and then he was back at it first thing in the morning before Stella and I had gotten out of bed. But, I guess it was a good thing he was in his whites for the night as I did need to send a mayday text his way to help me wrangle a certain someone off stage.

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Pregnancy and Traffic Jams

 

It’s no secret that Jakarta’s traffic is horrific. (I recently posted an article to my Facebook page about just this!) Sure, tell me how Toronto traffic is kid of shite. And LA traffic, yes, it is notoriously gridlocked. But Jakarta traffic? Unless you’ve spent time here, you have no idea.  

 

It’s not chaotic and full of elephants like the streets of Delhi, nor is it the dog-eat-dog vehicular bellicosery of Shanghai. But it is just bash-your-head-against-a-wall-omg-eff-all-the-things-nauseatingly slow. And apparently Jakarta is in the top three worst traffic cites, so. Take that. 

 

Living as we do in the heart of downtown, we don’t need to spend much time in a car. Thank Mother Earth, for that because there are not enough Gravol tablets in the world. But yesterday, I was reminded of just how bad it can get here. Stella and I got into a taxi juuuuuuust as the skies opened up and deluged us in sheets of rain. We were heading about South (along with everyone else in the universe), an eight kilometre journey that, by rights, should take about 20 minutes. Two hours later, we ditched the taxi and got on a motorcycle because, omg nope.

 

I know this sounds excessive, like hey, let-me-tell-you-a-story-about-the-worst-taxi-ride-ever-ever-ever excessive. But nope. Just a regular Friday in the city. This happens all the time.

 

Which brings me to pregnancy.

 

Because at some point about six weeks from now, a baby will be coming out of my body. And preferably not in a taxi. Also, one of my main goals in life is to avoid active labour for two hours in stop and stop traffic. 

 

But the fact is that this baby is due at the height of the rainy season. And there’s such a thing as demonstrations, rush hour, floods, and the like that basically happen daily. So I’m kinda worried. 

 

My husband, always the problem solver, has floated (hahahahaha ^) the idea of hiring out-riders (for those of you who are not fancy-pants rich Indos, out-riders are basically a  motorcycle police escort. You know, like the kind they use to get the president across town? Well, if you’re a rich corrupt you can just hire them to do the school run here.) 

 

I’ve always rejected this idea because I take a petulant pride in flipping off these convoys that shut down the main intersection outside our building so that some rich dude can get to the gym five seconds faster. Also because I’m basically a Marxist and principles etc.

 

But, you guys. There may be something to this crazy idea of having a police escort take me to the hospital. It’s that, or I dunno, just checking into the hospital three weeks from now and not leaving till this baby is born?

 

This is not really a pregnancy update, but still, I’m linking up with Erica. Because why not? 

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Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay {Travel Files}

I think we find the perfect little Jakarta mini-break destination. This little organic farm and homestay serves up some of the freshest, most delicious, innovative food you'll find in all of Indonesia. (Can I just say that pesto made with basil, parsley and coconut cream was a life changing bite of goodness?)

Lodges Ekologica at Portibi Farms: Tops in the Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay situation. 

Stella and I headed out of the city with a group of friends and a gaggle of kiddos. 

We slept in beautiful cabins, paragons of Indo-hipster design esthetic. There were three-year-olds dancing to records, little boys eagerly feeding logs into a fire that roasted our sate, a nocturnal visit from a civet, vegetable harvests, and constant sequels of children running in the grass, barefoot and gleefully dirty. If you know anything about Jakarta, you know that this is basically the perfect antidote to our lovely, crazy city.

Stella was basically as happy as happy can be, reveling in the freedom offered by life in the "crunchry side". With vast tracts of grass, fresh air, and a partner in crime, my big little girl suddenly became this independent, self-reliant human person. 

For more prefect and artful images of this epic weekend, see my talented friend's website. PS, she books family shoots. So if you're local, get in touch.



 

 



Oh, and yes, my child DID wear the same dress for three days straight. I had to peel the thing off of her once we got back into the city. But I guess that's a sign of love? Dress c/o Matilda Jane.

 

If you Go:

 

  • Honestly, I couldn't think of a better mini-gateway from Jakarta than Portibi Farms This Jakarta Organic Farm Homestay offers good food, great hospitality, and lovely, lovely, fresh air.

 

  • All meals are included in the room rate. Which is good news, because there's not much around except trees, and nature. But I couldn't imagine wanting to eat anywhere else, frankly.

 

  • Like most places in Indonesia, it can get surprisingly noisy at night. Particularly if you're here on a Friday evening, the mosques in the village below are quite persistent in their reminders to pray. Bring ear plugs.

 

  • Expect a back to nature experience. There will be bugs. And okay, the occasional civet cat. But no bigs. Just bring some mosquito spray. 

 

  • While kid-friendly, (there's a little play structure / climbing frame for kids to run themselves ragged on, and the owners are more than gracious and accommodating of little ones) small people with terrible risk assessment skills (read: the under three set) will need to be closely supervised. There are balconies without railings, and the occasional steep drop-off.

  

 

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Idul Adha in Jakarta

Selamat Idul Adha! 

Yesterday we celebrated Eid al-Adha, (or Idul Adha as it's known here in Indoneisa.) 

Idul Adha in Jakarta is a big deal, second only to Eid al-Fitr (Idul Fitri), which marks the end of Ramadan (Lebaran), as a major religious holiday. Idul Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrihim to sacrifice his own son in obedience to God. Traditionally men and women dress in white, and cows, goats or sheep are sacrificed. The meat is then butchered and given to the poor. 

Admittedly, our celebration was non-traditional in the sense that it involved neither sacrifice of domestic animals nor any ritual prayers, but instead, a trip to the newly opened H&M and lunch at a Japanese restaurant. But still.  

But the night before the big holiday, well that was something. Jalan Sudirman, the main thoroughfare that cuts through the city was closed to traffic late Monday afternoon, as thousands of drummers gathered to welcome nightfall and the beginning of Idul Adha. 

Of course Stella and I wanted to be part of the action, so out we went!

The mood was buoyant, and we got lots of high fives and "Hello Misters!" We stayed out till dark, taking advantage of a rare opportunity for an evening stroll. Then we came home and watched as a parade of thousands of torches and the occasional fire breather passed along the street below our building. 

Prayer songs rang out all night long, and we slept fitfully but happily. 

Jakarta, sometimes you just kill it. 

 

Hash House Harriers Kids Run in Jakarta

I love big city living. I do. I love hustle and bustle, concrete, and that invigorating chaos that comes with millions of people jammed together, all trying to be humans right on top of each other. I'll even take the air pollution that comes with bajajs and busses of varying degrees of roadworthiness, because that's what makes a city, you know? 

 

But once in a while I need to hear a bird sing. I need a dose of fresh air and a little green space. 

 

So, when a friend tipped us off to the Hash House Harriers and their monthly kids' runs. And we were in. Oh were we in. 

 

Mr. Chef was stuck at work all weekend, so a trip out to the country was the perfect distraction. We rented a car, rounded up some friends, and headed out to the jungle (where jungle means moderately developed housing estate with some cassava fields, and a few mountain bike trails, but you know? there were trees, and streams, and dirt and birds, and I'll just take what I can get, thankyouverymuch.)

 

From what I can gather about the Hash House Harriers in Jakarta, they're a group of people who like running and and like beer. A lot? 

 

And the Hash House Harriers kids' runs follow a similar theme: you set the kids loose in the jungle, run them around for a while, and then meet back at the starting point to shotgun sodas. Oh, and in case you were concerned, there IS INDEED beer for the parents. 

 

The run was pretty short. And was entirely more a walk than a run. Or in Stella's case a cary? Question mark? "Carwy me, mama!" And I figured that was fine because I do have a bit of an exercise deficit, so, why not? So I carried my 14 KG kid all along the trail, stopping to practice leaping off mountain bike jumps and gather "tickle sticks" which grown up people call "grass". 

 

(A propos of nothing, it should be noted that Stella is providing an excellent example interpreting this autumn's major trend of pattern mixing for the tropical jungle context. And while moccasins do not make the most practical jungle walking footwear, they do look totally rad, and they went on her feet without a fight, so who am I to argue?)

We ended the run hot and sweaty, but totally happy with red cheeks and fresh air in our lungs. Nature is, like, totally the best and stuff.

 

If you're local and want to join the Jakarta Junior Hash House Harriers, they run the last Sunday of the month. The run is held at different sites around Jakarta, usually not much more than an hour outside the city. You can contact Greg Fletcher at gtfletch@cbn.net.id. He'll get you on the list.  

Chaos in an Industrial Kitchen

Yesterday may or may not have been the best day of wee Stella's entire life. 

All the little kids from her school came to her Papi's kitchen. They got to take a tour. Check out the big machines. See where the 900 litres of ice cream is produced. Checked out the gigantic ovens. Wave at chefs. 

 

And then they decorated cookies. With icing. And sprinkles. 

 

It was epic. 

 

And may I ask you, is there anything more adorable than a bunch of three-year-olds dressed in aprons and hairnets? (No. The answer is no.) 

{Though I do wonder if Mr. Chef made us wear hair nets for for reasons of hilarity and adorableness or for reasons of hygiene and food safety?}

 

 

After getting hopped up on sugar, Stella and a few buddies had lunch together (pasta all around, in case you're wondering.) And then, because this is Indonesia, they ran circles around the front of the restaurant, not at all heeding their parents' half-hearted pleas of "Inside voice, guys!" And no one cared because this is Indonesia and unruly children are, like, totally cool, so ladies, let's just eat our salads while our children run around like tiny demons and we'll just talk about about nap schedules in peace, okay? 

 

And then, because my child wasn't sufficiently exhausted, we went on an all-swimming-all-dancing playdate, ate broccoli soup, and then traversed the city in the back of a taxi cab.

 

Some days Jakarta just knocks it out of the park. 

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My 20 Week Ultrasound in Singapore

This picture has kind of nothing to do with anything except that it's in the Singapore Airport, and it's Stella and she's kind of the best, so. 

I'd gotten pretty used to the laid-back approach to pre-nantal care in Jakarta. I go to my clinic, pee on a PH stick, get my blood pressure checked, get weighed (they don't even COMMENT on my enormous weight gain, TAKE THAT, Japan), and then pop in for a quick visit with the Doc. It's a brief "Hello, how are you, any problems, okay ultrasound time!" And then we're done.

 

(This compared to my Japanese appointments which always had an elaborate ritual of blood tests, cups of pee, belly exam and measurements, and scolding for being too fat.)

 

When I showed up at the clinic in Singapore for my anomaly scan, I had to go through the  registration process. They ask a lot of questions. Like they want to know every detail about both parents' lives, occupation, place of employment, and religion. RELIGION??? What? Excuse me. How exactly does this impact my medical care?

 

Oh, and another favourite of mine: "Name of husband/guardian."

 

Guardian??? GUARDIAN? Is this real life? Is this the 21st century, Singapore? What you're saying is that if I didn't have a husband I'd need a GUARDIAN?? And anyway, how exactly does my marital / guardianship status influence the doctor's ability to evaluate my pregnancy???

 

Because I'm such a pedantic peach, I obviously took this is an opportunity to point out the absurdity of this question, but passive aggressively because that's how I roll. So I circled that offending part of the registration form and cover it in exclamation points. You know.

 

 

Anyway, my Singapore doctor did not bring up either my religion or my guardianship status. Thank Feminism. He did, however, complete a super thorough exam of the baby, the likes of which I'd never before experienced either in Japan or here in Jakarta.

 

It's funny. When I went into see a doctor while on vacation in Canada when I was pregnant with Stella for reasons having to do with FIRST TIME MOTHER FREAKING OUT, all the doctor did was to have a little chat, have the nurse get out the doppler, and take a quick listen. Brush hands and done.

 

In Japan, and here in Jakarta, it's all ultrasounds all the time. Wanna see if you're really preg? Let's do an ultrasound at six weeks! Eight week appointment? Ultrasound. Worried about your pregnancy for no good reason? Come in for an ultrasound, NBD! 

 

And Iet's not joke around, I kind of love that. Before reassuring kicks to the bladder become a regular thing, it's really nice to actually see the baby and know that all is fine. And also, it's great to check in on things later in the pregnancy and make sure that all looks good. You know? I think North America should get on this ultrasound train.

 

Anyway, my Singapore ultrasound. When it was all finished, the doctor typed up a five (FIVE) page super official report including graphs and measurements and other science things and handed it over along with a DVD containing all the images form the ultrasound. Which totally surprised me. But shouldn't have. Because, duh, it's Singapore. 

 

What's the deal in the US / Canada / Europe / Elsewhere. Do you get multiple ultrasounds? A five page post scan report? Graphs? Quizzed on your religion and who owns you? Just curious. 

+++ 

Oh, I've kind of majorly dropped the ball in the Top Baby Blogs department. They reset their numbers and I'm like totally slipping! Can you give us a vote? I'd super appreciate it!!!

 

Thanks and candy!

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Homesickness is a dish best served with salt and vinegar chips.

 

So, I may or may not have thrown minor temper tantrum at the grocery store the other day. 

You see, after week of tiny catastrophes, general inconveniences, and disappointments varied and sundry (oh, yeah! the sidewalks here are filled with gaping holes that lead directly into the sewers!! I had totally forgotten about that little gemstone!) I was on edge, and not feeling very charitable towards the minor bothers that life in Indonesia entails (i.e. huh, so, what you're telling me is the ATMs just DON'T WORK? Just because? And the bank is, like, totally fine with this situation? So, okay. {HULKSMASHALLTHETHINGS!!!})

The poor girl at the iPhone service center bore the brunt of my eyerolls and exasperated sighs (though, I will say, she kinda deserved some of it? Maybe?? Yes?) Facebook got the rest.

Apparently our return from Canada prompted a Indo-crash, wherein wave of culture shock engulfed me. (In my defence, jet lag, exhaustion, and pregnancy cary-cray did nothing to mitigate this situation.) 

 

So I did what I usually do in these circumstances: I took myself to the grocery store, and rage-shopped all over the place. Oh yeah, Indonesia, you're going to be like that? Well take this 20 dollar bag of quinoa! And Bam! Here's an overpriced block goats cheese while we're at it! And a five dollar box of Kraft Dinner! How do you like them apples!!! 

 

 

Back in China, in the early days of our expat sojourn, when import products were harder to come by (and also bank-breakingly ridiculous), I would go into a local Carrefour and feel a wave of depression as I surveyed the unfamiliar packages, strange flavour combinations, and odd smelling fruits (durian!!!)

And then, maybe 18 months into our China stay, to my great glee, (I mean Marks & Spencer birthday cake level excited) Marks & Spencer opened in Shanghai. It was not the Western-sized clothing that had me excited (though that was what most people were hyping), but the M&S food hall. Suddenly old favourites like salt and vinegar chips were again at my disposal. And good value wine! And smoked paprika! It was like a major deal, and kind of a sign of tide-shift during that posting. Familiar flavours became easier to find and then life kinda got a bit easier, too. 

 

Food is a total big deal when you're an expat. It's a quiet comfort, a familiar call back to the home culture. Staying in touch with foodways of my home is a priority for me. And thus, I'll spend 20 dollars on a bag of quinoa, or travel half-way across the city, visiting four different grocery stores to stock up on cured meats, decent cheeses, and hard to find spices. I spend hours trolling the internet to find companies that will deliver kamut flour to Indonesia, or places where I might order a komboucha SCOBY (found one!!!). It's why I gave over so much space (and weight!!!) in my suitcase for six massive packages of corn tortillas and seven jars of all natural peanut butter. I need that connection to home, the comfort of familiar tastes, and the simple ease of foods I know. 

It's been a rough two weeks settling back into life here. But things are looking up. 

This weekend I have plans for a visit with a fellow Canadian, a meal of good Turkish food, and a coffee date with my shopping list and a stack of cookbooks. Throw in a little pool time, and all will be well. Come Monday, I'll be ready to hit the Jakarta streets with patience and acceptance (mostly.)

 

Until then, can I ask for some help? I'd love to hear your suggestions for favourite comfort foods, expat-friendly recipes, and must-visit cooking blogs.

 

Disclosure: This post was wrtten on behalf of a clinet, however all content and ideas herein are mine alone.  

Labour Day in Jakarta

Labour Day isn't actually a holiday in Jakarta, but who are Jakartians to let that small fact stand in the way of a good protest.

People began arriving downtown at 4 am. By mid-morning, the crowds swelled and heaved. Slogans and chants rose up to the sixth floor, and I thought, oh geeze. How am I going to pick my kid up from school. The main gathering point, you see, is right outside our door. Cars could neither enter nor exit, and not a single taxi would drive towards downtown. 

When I picked up my kid from school, I told her, "The traffic is really bad. There's a demo," not expecting her to understand.

She shot back, "Oh! Yes! Stella saw so many police just now!" So, I guess the schema for political activism is already formed in this two year old. 

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Family Photography in Jakarta

I have some images for you this morning.

Because I went to Yoga for CrossFit last night. 

And then did a CorssFit conditioning workout.

Because I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a bus.

Because I have a gigantic stack of work to do.

Because I'd rather take a nap.

Because I've been sitting on these pictures for two months. And I lost the CD which houses them. Twice.

I thought I'd better get around to putting these up on the internet.

That's why.

 

 



  

 


And because I have no self control and because the images are so good, I'll just go ahead and post a billion. Okay? Okay.

The super-talented (and all 'round quality human being) Becks of Viveash Photography made these images for us. And to say that I was pleased is a total understatement. They came out better than I could have imagined. I'll be so happy to look back on these many years from now and remember when we were young and fun and settling into our great Indonesian adventure. 

If you're in Jakarta and looking for portraits or family photography, may I suggest you get in touch with Becks? Because you should. Totally. 

deluge

Jakarta is flooded. 

Stella and I are safe and dry, up above it all, with a fully stocked pantry, and a closet full of dry clothes.

Together with Stella's nanny, we pressed our faces to the window, looking down upon Bundaran H.I., Jakarta's major traffic circle, and it's under water. People wading through knee-deep, murky brown, pushing stalled motor-bikes, trying to find safe passage from here to there. 

We had just spent the previous week traveling, aboard trains that pass through slums, homes pieced together out of blue tarpaulin and cardboard. We were talking about the gravity of the situation, the thousands of people whose homes are flooded, who have no dry clothes, whose stocks of food have all been ruined. And it is primarily those people, the ones who live beside the train tracks, or in poorly serviced neighbourhoods who suffer.

Stella's nanny remarked, "Its so different you know, for rich people." I nodded my head in agreement. This is a topic we revisit frequently. I like to set myself apart from "The Rich", disdainful of their heavy egos and empty souls, and repulsed by their inclination to abuse humans who are not so rich.

"It's the poor people who suffer. You just press your nose to the glass and look down."

That killed me. She didn't mean to, but knife in heart.

She's right, though. It's not fair. It is so different, and I hate it. It feels really awful. I'm rich. I'm lucky. I'm dry. And that's not fair.

the year that was.

The year in review. Including selfies. Perhaps the most sybaritic piece of blogger trickery imaginable. But. Twelve months ago, at just about this same time, I dove headfirst into the changeover of year. So eager to begin again, I didn't stop to consider what had come before, or what the coming year wanted of me. So. Headfirst with a plan but not much clarity. I didn't achieve many of my professional goals in 2012. A few pieces of writing published, one or two of which I'm particularly proud, but not on the order of what I had expected of myself. And amidst this certain degree of floundering, I don't want to forget to remember what a beautiful year it really was. Now, if you'll excuse me, here comes a picture-laden romp through my memory. Okay. Go.
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New Year's Eve: Act One

I like New Year's Eve. I like it a lot. I'd almost go so far as to say that I'd take it over Christmas. It's the anticipation, excitement, freshness of the day. It's the celebratory way in which we bid a fond farewell to extra-special year, or perhaps a gleeful "sayonara sucker" to a year that we'd rather forget.

I've found that the best way to enjoy this last day of the year is to make no plans, to have no expectations, and just wait for the night to unfold.

Mr. Chef was working, as is the lot of those in hospitality, so my girl and I, we just went where the wind carriedus, and we had one of the best nights in aeons. 


One of the busiest roads in Jakarta was closed from late afternoon until well into the night. Streets that are usually gridlocked and honking were now gridlocked and honking, but of a different sort. People, packed into so tightly there was no possibility of movement, blowing horns, lighting fireworks, and shouting greetings well into the night. And everyone was so happy, despite the drizzle.

In place of cars and busses were food stalls, fiery woks and glowing charcoal.

Things deep fried and delicious. 

Steamed peanuts and steamed corn.

We met this little girl, dancing her heart out in the central fountain. Scores of people were blowing bubbles, plastic cups of dish detergent and pipe cleaner wands sold for a few cents turned the air to magic.

Stella got in on the action. And was thrilled.

I only pass my kid off to random strangers on special occasions. 

And here, she's amazed to be set free to wander through the streets and dart in and out of crowds without hindrance from her mother. 

All of this was only the pre-party. Rain started coming down heavier by 7 PM, so my girl and I took refuge inside. 

More adventures to come!

While not exactly wordless, per se, this post is word lite. And so, I'm pretty sure that justifies linking for Wordless Wednesday at The Paper Mama, Parenting BY Dummies, + Seven Clown Circus

I have legs and can walk places and also take the bus. #NABLOPOMO

I get a fair few scandalized glances wherever I leave the hotel on foot. Like, WHAT?? A Caucasian who walks places! That will not do!!

But I do. I walk places, because I have two legs that work, and a body that needs excercise, and eyes that like to see things, and impatience for sitting in gridlocked traffic when walking is actually less nauseating and much faster.

So I walk. Or take taxis. Or the bus. Because it's faster. Because it's more interesting. Because I like it.

Occasionally people ask me why I don't have a car, not in a curious, 'hey, what's up with not having a car' kind of way, but more in a 'GASP! You don't have a car and driver, you poor pauper! However on Earth do you survive.'

Anyway, today I sunk to a new low: I drove home from the wet market (OMG YOU WENT TO THE WET MARKET AND DIDN'T DIE OF TYPHOID say all of the expat princesses, but that's another story for another post, one that involves decapitated {defootitated?} cow hoofs piled up like logs ready to be scraped of their fur and put into a pot for lunch. Real life, people. Real life.)

I really wanted to drive up to the hotel lobby like this. But alas, I have my husband's professional reputation to protect.

So I'm a closet non-princess. 

Next up: Motercycle taxis. 

 

 

The anatomy of a day.

Here's some real talk for you: by about 8:37 this evening I wanted to fire everyone.  You are FIRED! And You're fired! And you're fired! And YOU! AND YOU! 

Kind of like Oprah's favourite things except with terminations.

And although this day was bookened by some pretty massive tantrums (one so great that while doing "time in" {whatever the hell hippie bullshit that is"} my kid actually fell asleep. At 5:45.) it was actually a pretty great day.

And so I come here to kind of unremember the rapturous horrors, like the Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, or something.

What is this, two outdated pop culture refreneces in the same post?? I'm fired.

There was also a little bit of elevator selfie action, shaky handed, and in poor light. You know.

A little stop for MILLLLLCCCCHHHHHH, which is Stella (and possibly German) for milk at Starbucks. Because we're two and posh apparently. Considering washing a Starbucks cup for re-use at home. Good, thrifty idea, yes?

Frame store! Frame store! Frame Store! (and this is how my daughter felt about that.) Baby Honey, on the other hand, was totally indifferent about the whole affair.

 

Here I am, teaching my two-year-old to make a duck face, because I have no soul.

 

And yup, that's me, just letting my child run wild in a restaurant because I have no manners.

Indonesian food for lunch. That pink thing, you ask? 

One of life's great mysteries, apparently. (I was super disappointed that it didn't taste like candy, btw.)


We stopped in the toy store for a little concert piano. Then we bought a staple gun. I have big plans. They involve staples.

Christmas decorations are up already. PS, Indonesia's official religion is Islam.

That little pickle did not deter my kid though. She announced, "I GO TO CHRISTMAS!!!!" and was just about as excited as a little human could be.

So there you have it. There were actually lots of fun times, rage poops notwithstanding.

linking up with Morgan for Small Style. Heeeeyyyyaaaa!

Far

Three-and-a-half months ago, we left Japan. How long ago was that? How far away? 

Now, here we are, sun flares through palm trees, tropical rain storms, tuk-tuks, and mangos. 

 

 

 

When we left, my girl couldn't walk up stairs, or get down without crawling. Now she runs and jumps, and speaks in sentences, and tells me that playgroup is her favourte, that S-chan is her fwiend. She knows the colours and the alphabet, and can count, and tell me her name (though if she's feeling silly, she'll say I FIVE!! when asked, 'what's your name?') There months. Holy cow.

-joining wittle people wednesdays

You have a cute son who is actually a daughter. #NaBloPoMo

My girl and I got into a taxi this morning on the way to pre-school. She went through her usual routine, saying "Good-bye new one house! See you way-ter new one house!" before breaking into a rousing rendition of the Wheels On the Bus, and the taxi driver looked back in the mirror and asked me, "How old is your son?"

 

Boy outfit.

After so many years in Asia, gender mix-ups no longer catch me off guard. Many languages do not have gendered pronouns like in English, and so learning to differentiate between him and her, his and hers, he and she is not that simple a task. But this driver had a great grasp of English, and he said "son." The driver obviously thought that my "she" was a "he."

 

Which I mean, is totally ridiculous, right? She was wearing a dress! Albeit a white and blue dress, but a dress nonetheless. 

 

Again with the boy outfits!

I've had a fair few conversations with Stella's nanny about this. Nanny laughs at me, and my strange, semi-feminist, 'progressive', anti-pink ways. I don't think Nanny appreciates my disdain for ruffles and pink. I suspect that for her, it's just part of the weird foreigner package, along with not eating rice, or being a wee sacredy kitten who can not handle fiery burning spice. 

 

You see, here in Asia, notions of gender are much more codified than they are in the West. Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. NBD. Oh, and PS, seven-year-old girls also wear high heals. 

 

Before you go telling me about systemised gender stereotypes and inequalities, let me just state that I've seen this girls = pink boys = blue pattern equally in places like China where women hold a good deal of power as in places like Japan where women are sidelined almost completely.  

 

Boy.

Now, let's be clear. I do adore a tasteful hair bow, and a pair of sparely shoes as much as the next person. And I fully intend to enrol my girl in ballet solely for the purpose of getting her into a tutu. I just believe in moderation. Balance. A bit of blue for every bit of pink. It's not that I ban ruffles and dolls outright, but I am mindful of hoisting artificial notions about gender expectations on tiny, innocent child, who has yet to form her own ideas about what she wants out of life, and the possibilities that are open to her.

 

So, in this vein, she wears a lot of blue and green, and not a lot of pink. 

 

This, coupled with her tendency for wild hair, refusal to bow down to a clip or a barrette, and instance on wearing boy shoes, is apparently the source of the problem. 

 

Nanny, unfortunately bears the brunt of inquiring comments, fielding off remarks of "cute boy!" When it is relived that Nanny's charge is actually a girl, she's judged for her inability to dress her take-care-kid in appropriately pink and sparkly attire. People outright ask Nanny why she doesn't put a clip in her hair? Why she dresses her kid in shorts?

 

Ummm, okay. This is sufficiently girl.

So, not wanting to reveal the fact that neither one of us can hold this baby down and clip a little tiny bow on her head (because let's face it, for all my posturing, that is the real reason behind wild hair it's lack of adornments) she blames me, and my strange, feminist, foreign ways.

Car Free Day in Jakarta {travel files}

Sometimes, when you live in Indonesia, you kind of just have to throw your expectations up into the air, and watch them shatter into a million pieces, as they get shot all to hell like scores of clay presumptuous pigeons.

The only thing you can reasonably do, at moments like this, is to delight in the fact that you're blowing all to hell your suppositions, plans, and assumptions, and just get out to see what you can see.

Basically, what I'm saying is if you get woken up well before dawn even breaks, by a pounding baseline and thousands of revelers outside your window, occasionally the only sensible course of action is to throw on some clothes, run a toothbrush across your teeth, and then go outside to see what in the WHAT is going on.

 

And then you'll discover a raging party, a concert, a demonstration in favour of One Indonesia, and against discrimination. Which I guess is okay, I mean, discrimination is bad. So I guess, it's cool that your reveling and base thumping work me at 4:30 AM. I can get behind that. Even if I'm up and outside on a Sunday, so early that Starbucks is not even open yet and there is no coffee to be had even though we live in a place called Java. OHHHHH the injustice of irony.

This, friends, is Car Free day in Jakarta. And it's pretty rad.

You might also discover literally thousands of people clapping, singing, hollering, and dancing. (Let me reiterate, it's 7:20 AM), And these people will move aside and make way for you and your massive stroller because, it's cool, you're a mum with a kid, and you need to get by, and sure, we'll part the crowd on your behalf like seas in the desert or some other similarly impressive biblical simile, NBD.

 

 

You might also see a million bikes where typically there are a million billion cars. Cars which are usually not moving, but honking really loudly nonetheless, because. You know. 

Perhaps you'll also see a clown dressed in batik riding a bike that is LITERALLY two stories tall. Twice. Because, why not?

Or a dude who is using considerable force to remove a boa constrictor which has wrapped itself, with great determination, around his neck. 

Perhaps you'll come across another dude who's arms are red with welts from some fangy orange snake who keeps sinking his super sharp snake teeth into into the above mentioned dude's forearm.

You might ask the snake dude what he's doing and he might tell you that he's promoting awareness of Indonesian Hedgehogs, and you won't second guess anything about that statement, even though he's holding two carnivorous snakes, because you just saw a two-story bike being ridden by a clown, so clearly snakes + hedgehogs = a very happy match.

You might also catch sight of a bunch of tame Sunda flying lemurs running around Jakarta's busiest roads.

And you might even get to hold one of these Sunda gliders all by yourself and practically explode with glee while your own child cowers in terror somewhere in the middle of the street because small animals WAH NIGHTMARE while strangers caress her pale and strange bule skin but you don't care because ZOMG TINY ANIMALS IN YOUR HAND.

 

So, basically what I'm saying is for the first time in the history of everything, I'm now motivated to get up and out of the house before 7:30 am on a Sunday, because OMG YOU GUYS all of the above mentioned shenanigans totally happened and WTF I just don't even understand but that's fine because I got to hold a flying lemur. And this takes place every week! Car Free Day in Jakarta. Get into it.

The end.

Well, not quite the end. Basically, Car Free Day in Jakarta happens every Sunday on Jalan Sudirman, running from Senayan to Monas. If you're in Jakarta, don't miss it. Got it? Sunday Mornings. Things usually get going around 6 Am and continue till about 11. Jalan Sudirman. See you there.