Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Once, I found an old picture of my sister when she was much younger---I wasn't born yet at the time. It was on Indonesian Independence Day and she was standing outside, overlooking the view of our neighbourhood. I couldn't say much, but all I can tell you, the situation nearby was clean, well-designed housing quartier and not crowded. It was in mid 80s.

In 1990, I was born. From much further I could start to recall, I've started to observe the neighbourhood myself, starting from my childhood memories. Here, it's getting crowded and more crowded by the time goes by. I remember there was only one shop and two small homey restaurants. Then, a mini market opened when I was about 7 years old until now, although it used to close for awhile due to a riot in 1998.

Since the year of 2000, it has been 3 times... new neighbours keep coming and stay at the house next door. First new one was nice, but it was quick stay. Then, another pack coming. No introduction to us, we didn't say 'hi' either. They used the house for commercial matters, they sold something I can't remember what. Somehow the business wasn't good for them. After a while, they closed down and resold the house.

The house was divided into two. When the seller guy stopped the business and left, the people who live next to him still keep on doing theirs. It's a small private education institute for children to learn read and write, including reading Quran. They paint the house with tacky purple and pink color. But it makes a good clue for taxi driver I ordered by phone to find my house anyway.

Lately, another neighbours start to occupy the empty house---between us and the weird purple-pinky. This time, the new neighbour paint the house in black and red, like a Korean restaurant, but it looked rather tacky too. Cheap paints and lame design. They didn't introduce themselves to us (again) and I don't know what they use the house for. They put a sticker of their brand logo. I really got no idea of what it is about (until now!)

But I can say, they're really curious of me. Once the taxi driver couldn't stop precisely before my house, so he stopped in front of their place. They were like, 'who is this stopping before my place?'. The girls in hijab were panic and told their male friend who soon rushed towards me and the cab. Since that day, they look at me like I'm some kind of weirdo. People can be so strange.

We got no choice now. The local officials have already stated that the area I've been living for 23 years. now, will be only legal as commercial area, not housing. So, we got to move from here. The other reason we could use to stay is...using the house, also, for commercial matters. Let's say, the simplest way is to turn our house into a home-stay and we stay in new house somewhere nicer. That's the least 'trick' we could do. My mom refuses to sell our home and just move away.

But no matter how, we all have to move and live somewhere else. This should be the biggest change for me. One point I see from this situation: it's not about how close it might be, change is everywhere, whether you realize it or you don't.

And it's just absurd to know if how long we've been staying in the area can't avoid us to become the stranger. Everyone around us change, new people keep on coming, thus we still the same. We're the strangers now.

I learn that there is a phase where we are all strangers to people that now we know very much. I'm sure I could get to know my neighbours soon enough, hopefully in a proper manner, within good timing, and for the best reason. But I also learn that people I know very much could turn back into strangers.

Read next on 'Strangers...'

... what happens in my bedroom, stays in my bedroom...