“I thought I was just seeing and listening, that in my idle wanderings I was nothing but a reflector of received images, a white screen onto which reality projected colours and light instead of shadows. But, though I was unaware of it, I was more than that.” – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet.
The clouds couldn’t hold the rain any longer. I started to hear uncountable tiny drops hit the roof at 2 PM. The sound that I love, but not that day. Because it was my birthday, and I needed to go to a place to do my annual “ritual”: The birthday trip, a journey where I can contemplate and cleanse my soul a little bit. And rain can ruin it.
This year, I chose a hill. Not too far, Bukit Moko in Bandung. I was planning to go there on foot. And by “on foot” I mean walking from Saung Angklung Udjo. Glad I didn’t do it. Haha. I ordered gojek to take me to the closest spot to the gate. You still have to hike anyway to reach the top of the hill.
For those who haven’t been to Bukit Moko (or Bukit Bintang), the best Route is from Padasuka. Find Saung Angklung Udjo and just follow the path. There’s no public transportation to reach Moko. So either you use a 4WD car or a motorbike like I did.
It was 3 PM when we left the house. We had to stop for a while because it was raining really hard. I prayed to God to make it stop and give me sunset. It was almost 4 PM when the rain stopped. Well..kind of. It was still drizzling, actually.
The road to Moko was pretty challenging: steep, narrow and muddy. There was a time when we had to stop because a vegetables truck was broken down and sort of blocked the road. So we helped them, you know, gave it a push so the engine would start. No, I’m not kidding. My ojek driver was a good guy. He was the one who had the idea.
It was almost 5 PM when we reached the gate. I saw the pines forest from afar and got so excited. The ticket to get in was pretty cheap, IDR 12,000/ person. When we finally entered the forest, the hill was inundated by the mist. It was eerie yet pretty. Kinda reminded me of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.
After taking pictures, we stayed at some kind of shelter because it was raining again. I was still hoping that the rain would stop and the clear sky would expel the mist and invite the beautiful sunset to come. My mind used the chance to drag me to that corner where I can find fragments of memories, thoughts and feelings. About my plans. About that guy who once talked to me about building future together, but then left this country to chase..other things than me.
[The shuffle option on my phone suddenly chose The Cure’s A Letter to Elise. “but i let the dream go // and the promises broke // and the make-believe ran out”. “Shit..” I murmured before I giggled.]
About my parents. About other guy who has that nice guy syndrome – another short story that i should label as “just another laughing stock”. About mistakes. About life. About fate. About faith.
5.30. The rain stopped, the mist disappeared, and I saw a golden line. Sunset was coming, not really stunning, but it’s still comforting.
I thanked God for it, took a deep breath, and then smiled before I left the top of the hill.
Once, one of my good friends said that to keep your sanity in a crazy city like Jakarta is to appreciate little moments. And if you can’t find them, make them.
So I decided to do something calming before I started my new job: pottery class. A private one. With my friend, the talented potter Ayu Larasati. Oh you don’t know her? Well I do *insert smug face here :p
I met Ayu when Nike, one of the founders of LivingLoving invited me to come to this watercolor painting workshop she arranged with Ayang Cempaka as the tutor. I’m a fan of Ayang Cempaka, so I came just to see her and told her that I love her works. You know, cliche thing that a fan would say to her idol.
Nike then showed me where to sit while waiting for Ayang – so i sat in front of this cute-sweet-looking girl. Later i found out that she had been living in Canada for years before she got back to Indonesia and that she's a potter who used to be a product designer.
Long story short, we became friends. And a week before my first day at this new place, I stayed at her home and visited her new studio to hone my skill in pottery making. I took a pottery class one time, and I made a fugly unicorn mug that is still somewhere in that studio in South Jakarta. Gosh, it’s been a year and I still am abandoning that mug. *sigh
Anyway, it was really nice to spend times with Ayu. I had so much fun. I learned to make bowls and cups. I learned a little bit about firing and glazing. I laughed when I heard her talking to her supplier and ordered 50 kg of clay as if it’s nothing. I heard her little boy criticizing my work because his mom can do better. I learned the art of letting yourself immerse in silence, to be patient, and to find peace when making things with your bare hands but they end up not as perfect as you thought they would be.
Her works remind me of the japanese philosophy, shibui/ shibumi – where you learn to appreciate pretty thing more than its appearance, but also the inner beauty, the strength, the feeling when you touch it.
So, thank you, my dear Ayu. For everything. I’ll be back for glazing them. And catching up, of course. :)