It has been said by many that moving house is extremely stressful. After nigh on 25 years in Jakartass Towers 1 – the longest I’ve lived anywhere – I can but agree.
It was back in July, the day after I heard that my father had died of natural causes aged 93, that we got a phone call from Mr. and Mrs. Landlord to say that they wanted us to leave when our current two-year lease expired on August 7th, a month later to the day.
There were a number of reasons why we didn’t want to move:
– Our Kid is in grade 11, with one more school year to go before he graduates and enters the big wide world of adulthood and independence; routine has its virtues.
– our neighbourhood is conveniently situated for the toll road system, the Transjakarta Busway, and the commuter train service into town.
Also, in the 25 years since I first arrived here, a network of support services has been developed:
– the postman, meter reader, bread and vegetables (and tempeh) sellers et al are regulars.
– the community leaders, at street and neighbourhood levels, know and respect us.
– I rarely get ‘Hello mister’d’.
However, there were a couple of reasons why we wanted to move:
– a catering business – which stinks – had opened opposite the house. (And if the staff of RCTI were aware of the unsanitary conditions their meals are prepared in, then they would be, should be, very worried.)
– an old Jakarta style house next to the street’s catering business, which like Jakartass Towers has/had natural air flow thus negating the need for air-conditioning, has been demolished and a two-storey box-like monstrosity is being erected which will be used as a kost, a boarding house for perhaps twenty people.
With the growth of Jakarta over recent years, many more recognise that, gridlock notwithstanding, our area is convenient for getting to most parts of the city. Rents may have risen by 3,000% in 25 years, yet we are not alone in wanting to continue our residence here.
And so another kost is Mr. and Mrs. Landlord’s plan for Jakartass Towers.
The Gasman Came To Call
So we put out the word: we’d (have to) pay a commission to anyone who could point us in the direction of a house to let nearby. We checked out houses in a narrow gang (alley) which were extremely claustrophobic, and others which were suitable, even better, for our needs, but whose owners were way too avaricious for their own good – they’ve gradually reduced their asking price!
Eventually, we were alerted to a house just eight doors down: it had been used as a base for one of the many agencies which send domestic staff to Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore, one of the ‘export’ businesses which Indonesia relies on for its foreign currency reserves.
It’s one of the remaining Jakarta-style houses in the area, with more rooms, including an upstairs ‘laundry’ area. This, unfortunately, does mean that there is a restricted airflow, but, hey, we get to keep all the services mentioned above, and there’s no need to reregister much: if you have our postal address, just change T/5 to T/14.
However – and there’s always one or more – the house needed renovating.
Roof tiles are made of baked clay; they expand and contract with the rains and blazing sun and slip from their wooden roof framework, which, being untreated, is prone to wet rot and termites. Laying the network of electricity cables is relatively easy with this system. Our electrician made light of his tasks, so much so that he forgot to replace one tile and thus, part of our newly grouted and painted living room ceiling collapsed during the worst rainstorm we’ve had this year.
Then Indovision, our satellite TV provider, took down our old dish, brought it down the road, nailed it to a neighbour’s wall, installed the cable connection to our TV downstairs and, lo, we could watch Match Of The Day. Unfortunately, the Indovision technicians too didn’t replace a tile and, yes, there was a leak. Unfortunately, this was directly above the corner of my new office where I had placed my computer.
Thankfully, Telkom, came and were efficient in connecting us to their landline. This is needed because being slightly downhill from before, and further away from the neighbourhood telecommunication towers, signals don’t reach within the inner sanctums of Jakartass Towers Redux.
As I type this, I’m not yet sure whether my ‘net connection will be FastNet, the fibre-optic provider, or Telkom Speedy, which has a well-deserved reputation for its seeming lack of customer service.*
But, hey, paintings and curtains are hung, there are empty boxes in our garage-cum-gudang (storage area) and screaming fits and sulks have been kept to a bare minimum.
Wishing us all a Stressless 2013.
*This being just before Xmas, there are few staff to cater for new customers, so I’ve ended up with a borrowed dongle and a different IP. But the landline telephone has been cut off because the previous tenants haven’t paid their bill!