Friday, December 16, 2005


Around Easter, I discovered that I was going to have to vacate the house in which I was living. The Chinese owner of the property wanted to do some redecoration and then increase the rent beyond what my school was prepared to pay. Moving house meant all the usual hassles, such as having to squash all my worldly goods into a few small cardboard boxes, having to go house hunting, and having to give lots of people my new address and telephone number.

House hunting in Jakarta requires great care. Many of the Indonesian houses built for the well-to-do look magnificent on the outside. There are Greek pillars, huge pediments, stained glass windows, and palatial entrances. But, inside, you may find that there is no hot water for the washing machine and no proper bath in the bathroom.

I eventually settled on a modern, white-walled villa with a sloping red roof. There were two small bedrooms; a sunny lounge-dining room provided views through glass doors to a little garden containing Heliconias and Hibiscus. The house appeared to have no major problems, such as broken air conditioners. A date was fixed for entry.

At this point, my driver pointed out that he would have a slightly longer journey to work and might need help to buy a motorbike. Rachmat, the house guard, was not sure whether or not he wanted to move to the new neighbourhood, away from all his friends. I ignored their comments, knowing that they were already being paid an above average wage.