I finally have everything I need to stay here; research permit, kitas, visa, apartment and an awesome laboratory to work in. My apartment is awesome. It is small but what it lacks in size it makes up with convenience. It is about a 3 minute walk to my lab, there is a cleaning staff and my favorite attribute of the apartment is the magic sack. It is magic because if I put four articles of dirty clothes in it, by the afternoon, they are clean… truly remarkable.
The Eijkman Institute is a trmendous place to work. It has a rich history and a wonderful staff. A very brief history: It was built in 1888 as a Research Institute of Pathology and Bacteriology an artifact of Dutch Colonialism from that era. From there it has grown into the premiere molecular biology research laboratory in all of Indonesia. I am honored to be allowed to work there for six months. Also, it has been claimed as a historical building so, all the architecture is original, even the floor tiles of the hallways are original. (just f.y.i, yile hasn’t changed much in 113 years) The rich history pales in comparison to the wonderful people I will be working with. I have only been there a week I feel welcomed and treated as an equal. I am still learning everyones name at the institute and have had the embarrassing moment of introducing myself to someone twice; this has happened a few times so far. Luckily, they are easy going and understanding. It will be a wonderful experience here. I actually look forward to work everyday, which is a nice change.
Now to the fun part, my few foot travels around Jakarta. I haven’t traveled far yet, just as far as I feel like walking. My first real adventure was walking the 3.4 km to the Grand Indonesian Mall. I was told Jakarta is very proud of their malls and I wanted to see if it lived up to its title … to put it franky, grand is an understatement. It’s what I imagine the the vomit bucket for all of capitalism looks like; where the bucket is made of diamond and the vomit is fancy shoes and silk turtlenecks. It contained every possible name brand store you can think of in a 6 story complex of a mall. There were grand stair cases, arched ceilings, a bowling alley, two movie theatres, and multiple extravagant game rooms for kids. It was a bit overwhelming to be in there. I walked around it for a few hours and still have only seen half of it. The area is so “Ritzy” that they forbid Bajaj, which are tiny 50cc, completely, enclosed three wheeled motorcycles used as a taxi, from driving down the streets next to the mall. I guess they are just too poor looking. I was glad I saw it but not really somewhere I want to visit again.
What was very interesting about the mall was the walk there. The whole walk you are passing all the diplomats and ambassadors houses to indonesia. Lots of guards looking very suspciosly at you. Lots of tall fences and barbed while and houses that take up the whole .5 acre lot. But while I was walking I heard some music being played on the street so, I decided to investigate. What I found was a man sitting next to a large speaker with a monkey on a leash. It was a very small monkey, no bigger than a cat, which you would usually find cute but sad its tied up but not this one. I still felt sad it was tied up but It was wearing a porcelin colored mask of a babies face, completely destroying its cuteness. I saw pictures of this on the internet before I left but seeing it in person was extra creepy. The monkey was dancing but just sitting there staring at me and some of the cars by me. It would only get up to collect money that the people would throw from their cars for it. Definitely one of the stranger sights that I have seen so far this trip.
On a more positive note, I found a little restaurant near my place run by a family that I really enjoy. The people don’t speak any english but really enjoy having me around. The extent of communication has been deciphering each others names, by decipher I mean me trying to say it, horribly mispronouncing it and them all laughing at me until, I eventually get it. Its a place I plan to visit quite often because the people seem genuine and when I finally have some basic Indonesian under my belt, it will be nice to get to know them.
ta-ta for now.