Jakarta yesterday morning was unusual. The road was clear, there were not as many vehicles as usual, and the traffic was surprisingly okay. I arrived at the office 10 minutes early, giving me a few minutes to spare.
Like maybe everyone else in this era, I logged into Facebook, and that was when I saw it: a photo on the top of my news feed. It was me, with my then housemates, on a punt in Cambridge. We were smiling to the camera, unaware of the punter who was posing comically behind us.
In an instant, I was transported back to a year ago, thanks to Facebook’s helpful reminder.
It was a couple of days before dissertation deadline. I’d done all the writing, and what’s left to do was formatting, printing, and binding. Usually, I wasn’t the one who left things until last minutes as I got panic easily and all the worst scenarios always played in my mind the closer it was to the deadline. But that time, just two days before submission, I went on a day trip to Cambridge.
It all started a few weeks before, when Lukas and Katka told me about this trip.
“We know you want to go to Cambridge,” Lukas said. “I’m buying the tickets now. Would you like to go?”
I said yes straight away.
“But that’s two days before the deadline,” Lukas reminded me.
“Oh, we’ll be finished by then,” my confidence talked.
We didn’t, but still went for that trip.
We woke up that morning, hastily packed breakfast and left. It was a sunny day. The sky was clear, the weather was warm, but not too hot. We got to Cambridge a few hours later, and started walking around.
We also rambled through the alleyways, where we found this cute bookstore.
After a while, we were considering if going punting was worth it. Being tourists that we were, we decided to go for it.
The punter, John, filled us in with historical facts, local tales, and a few stories of his own that he claimed he’d experienced during his time as a punter. All was interesting, but we also had a suspicion that he made up some of those, or at least spiced it up a little bit. He was a great storyteller though.
We took pictures of the magnificent view around us, didn’t quite believe we were lucky to see all these things.
John turned out to be a funny guy. As we saw the building in the picture above, he asked, “You see that building? Do you know the Harry Potter movies?”
“Yes!” we said, anticipated the fun fact we were about to hear from him.
“Well, yeah, it wasn’t filmed there,” he said with a cheeky smile.
One point for John.
Still in high spirits from all the jokes and amazing stories, we strolled around, basking in the sun.
We stopped for cold drinks in a little cafe in the corner, and sat outside while listening to a street performer just a few feet away.
We went back to Southampton (and dissertation) after that. It was a good day. A combination of a charming town, good friends, and perfect weather sure would make that day memorable, and once again, I found myself using the word Gemütlichkeit to describe my feeling that afternoon. A word that, I realized, I’d used many times in that year.