I’ve never met someone who’s lived in Bandung and doesn’t fall in love with the city. It’s almost like a voodoo, actually. People who have been there are charmed with the city. Going back there — even for only a few days — is always a delight.
My parents have been living in Jakarta for the past 6.5 years, and I still don’t feel at home here. When I first got back after being away for a year, I forgot the ways to go to places, even if it’s only 10-minutes drive from home. A week after I got here, I met up with an old friend, and the first thing he said after ‘Welcome home!’ is ‘Do you remember the way to go home?’ He recalled, as it seems, that we went to see a concert once and when he drove me home afterwards, I was unable to give him directions to my place (in my defense, Jakarta is THAT big and complicated).
With Bandung, it’s completely different.
I’d planned to go there even before I left Southampton. Four days after I arrived, still jet-lagged and tired, I made it there. My sister picked me up and gave me a bar of chocolate with a note, ‘Welcome home! Welcome to Bandung!‘ And it truly, genuinely felt like home. Real home. I still remember perfectly how to go from one place to another, the shortcuts, the street vendors and all my favorite places to eat. To my surprise, the people from these places remembered me when I showed up and asked me where I’d been, which made me feel even more at home. I drove with such ease and without GPS (which is never gonna happen if I’m in Jakarta), remembering every junctions and crossroads as if I’ve never left. I went there again last weekend, this time staying at my friend’s place, and I remember the exact corners where the plugs are. This tells a lot, since I struggled to find the light switches in my own house in Jakarta.
Bandung will always have a special place in my heart. Every corner of this city is a silent spectator, and this city as a whole probably has witnessed more of my stories than anyone (or any place) would ever do. On top of all, it’s beautiful. When I went there 2 weeks ago, my sister took me to Bukit Moko and we reached the highest point in Bandung. I found out that after so many years, its charm still worked on me.
I’m a tad obsessed with Mary Poppins at the moment, so whenever I see someone carrying an umbrella, I go bananas. After many trials, I can now conclude that it’s hard to be her.
We still had fun in the forest, though.
It was a good day, thanks to my sister. Getting there was not easy, but she managed it gracefully, and now I believe that her driving skill matches Pantura drivers (in a good way).
One fine day, indeed.