Sunday, March 01, 2009

Cul de sac



The following Saturday morning we were all back at Wisma Utara. Joan led us to the third house.

It was a two storey brick and concrete construction down a little cul de sac where all the houses were joined together by the usual thin walls. Downstairs there was a living room, simple kitchen with a water pump, and simple bathroom with a hole in the floor. Upstairs there were two bedrooms, divided by a simple curtain. The owners had bright modern furniture which was perhaps why I found the place attractive. The settee was a particularly bright light blue. The price was twenty two million rupiahs, which was within my range; and the neighbours seemed friendly.

Min’s family had a quick conference. They wore worried expressions. Wati explained that she still preferred the first house we had looked at, the one costing thirty million. Dad and Wardi remained silent.

"So, what about this third house?" I asked.

"OK, Mr Kent," said Wardi. He looked and sounded hesitant. Wati was scowling.

"Are you sure you want me to buy you a house?" I asked Wati.

Wardi answered. "Yes, Mr Kent." He was frowning.

I got the feeling that they definitely wanted me to buy them a house, but, something was worrying them. Was it a question of trying to get the best house possible? That was to be expected. Did Wati not believe me when I said I couldn’t afford the first house we viewed as I only had around six thousand pounds to spare? I supposed she thought all foreigners were infinitely rich. Was it a question of the hassle of having to move to a new home? I supposed that was natural. I couldn’t ask Min what he thought, as he wouldn’t understand. And I couldn’t have a deep conversation with Wati as my Indonesian vocabulary was so very limited.

"When can they move in?" I asked the attractive and astute looking young woman who owned the third house. Her tight blouse, short skirt and expensive shoes suggested she was a modern entrepreneur rather than a traditional shop owner.

"Any day," she said. "You pay the cheque on the day they move in."

"And you give us the documentation."

"Yes. They’ll need to fill in some forms at the lurah’s office."

"And we’ll also have to get identity cards," said Wardi.
"How much do they cost" I asked him.

"Very expensive to get a card for Jakarta. It costs extra if you want one quickly. Maybe a few hundred thousand rupiahs."

It was agreed that Min’s family would move into the new house within two to three weeks. I felt relieved that at last Min would be living with his family; living in what I considered to be a safe environment; and living right next to his school. I hoped I hadn’t rushed them into making a decision. I had a niggling feeling that Wati was not entirely happy with the way things had worked out.

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