I am never one to celebrate birthdays — cakes, candles, gifts, presents, even an annual self reflection are a rarity. The way I celebrate my birthday has evolved from bringing cakes back in pre-school, to lunch treats during school years, and now a flurry of LINE stickers in my family’s group chat and short Instagram direct messages from my friends. There would be the occasional long cheesy post by the husband (then boyfriend), or sometimes the sweet messages from closest friends.

This year, however, was different.

For heaven knows what reason, since the beginning of this year I have been feeling very… contemplative. Very aware that my birthday was coming in a month’s time, and that it would be my twenty-fifth. I didn’t know why, but I just dreaded it so. No, it’s not because I’m a year closer to dying (because everyday when we wake up we’re one day closer to dying?) nor is it because I feel old — it’s just, like, if I can evade it, I would.

Consoling me like a good husband that he is, Andhika said the magic words: oh, it’s just your quarter-life crisis.

Okay, first of all, bold of people to assume that we’d all live to 100 years old (Cahya, get off twitter!).

Second of all, oh.

It first began as a simple realization that being twenty-five is not-so-young anymore. Twenty-five is that age when the world internationally recognizes you as a full-fledged adult: youth railcards in Europe ends at twenty-five, many of the youth competitions and conferences set twenty-five as the age limit, and no more $5 off for your museum admission ticket because hey! you’re not young anymore!

If the world could, it would send me a letter that says “Congratulations, you’ve passed your probation on becoming an adult,” magically delivered to my bedside table to be opened at 00.00 on my birthday. (It can be helpful if it can then send me a list of things I need to do as a full-fledged adult, starting with once-and-for-all clear instructions on how to do my taxes because taxes).

This realization then started to grow into fear and insecurity. You’re twenty-five now, my brain said, so you better get your shit together. I began comparing: the up-and-coming Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and many of the new wave of Indonesia’s hopeful/would-be legislators) is just four years older, many of the world’s innovative companies were built by their founders at my age, and so many others create a positive impact in the society by creating grassroot organizations, write eloquently on a cause of their choosing, voicing out injustice and the likes. Malala Yousafzai is twenty-one and a Nobel laureate (although to be fair, you can’t expect everyone to be a Malala). These people seeped through my brain and got me thinking: what have I achieved?

Turning twenty-five felt to me like a pit stop for me to decide whether I want to live the rest of my life as an ass-kicking, rocking person or as a passable, but nonetheless happy person. I spent my childhood till my university years thinking I would be…something, someone memorable. Forged by the reality of life and having traded views with people of different backgrounds, I have now realized that really, most of us will most likely be passable and mediocre — but by no means is it wrong, nor sad.

I guess I can attribute this to having matured, coming to terms that there’s so much more in life than having your name printed in the newspaper or a certificate, winning an award or being associated with superlatives.

As someone who has spent most of my life pegging my self-esteem and achievement on how young I am, it’s pretty shocking to lose this predicate. My life was full of being “the youngest” — two years younger than my peers, the youngest person in my class of 2010, the youngest graduate, the youngest employee in my first workplace, the youngest employee in my current workplace, the youngest person to be interviewed by this panel of directors I got them asking “I’m sorry but you’re 19, what the hell are you doing here working?”. Now I’ve run out of titles to be grabbed — there’s no pride and no such thing as the youngest person in this apartment block? There’s a bit of panic and stress seeing waves of new recruits at work being born in 1996. (Okay, that sounded more stupid in writing)

All of a sudden, I felt worthless and less significant compared to my glory days a few years back.

It took me a few weeks of self reflection (and frantic texts to friends — you know who you are) on what it means to grow older, what (or more precisely, whether) specific metrics measure one’s success in life, what makes me happy and such to be at peace with myself again. At the end of the day, there are no wise words to part or mindblowing revelations to make — it is just what it is. People grow old, you grow old and there’s nothing you can do about it but accept it. Embrace it. As a wise friend said, self-acceptance matters.

If I had to re-do my life all over again, perhaps I would whisper to my younger self to stop obsessing over age-based life targets and pegging your self-esteem to how young and achieving you are. Age shouldn’t define you and most definitely shouldn’t limit you on what you believe you can achieve.

Having this conversation in my head, I can’t help but mockingly jeer to myself that all this is just a sorry excuse for being mediocre and not living up to my high school dream of being “someone big”. To her I say: yeah and so what! So what if I fail or if I didn’t win a national prize by the age twenty-five — it shouldn’t, doesn’t and wouldn’t deter me to keep trying anyway.

Twenty-five is just a big, massive boulder on the road called life. And I’m not just going to make a u-turn or shrug as I find a way around it; I’m going to climb it and jump over it gleefully.

Happy twenty-five, me.


Four winters, forty eight full moons (technically we don’t have winters but for literature’s sake just take it as it is…)

We can count our blessings in numbers: forty eight months, nineteen cities, eight birthdays, seven countries, six companies, three continents, two degrees, two universities, one car – you name it.  Numbered milestones are used as a measurement of how we have been and how we’ve changed (hopefully for the better) for the ­­past years. We have evolved from a frugal university students into interns-trying-to-make-things-work and finally an aspiring young professionals (or at least that’s how we wish we are) and on the process, shifting our ways of communication and responding on the process.

Keeping numbered achievements also feel nice – it makes people feel valuable, achieving, successful. Isn’t it nice to put statistics and color-coded map of the world?

I invite us to highlight the fact that it is less about the numbers and the successes, but more to the things we have gone through in order to keep the wheels turning and the counts up. Behind “nineteen cities”, for example, lies endless bickering on where to go and which transportation we should take and behind “six companies” lay week-long discussion on career paths and self-development (in which each of us plays an important role) plans. Behind three anniversary blog posts lay spiteful LINE messages (which usually mean I miss you but I’m way too high in my ego to admit such) and numerous fights hidden by those shiny numbers. These are the things that matter, even more so than the numbers – because they were the ones that made us grow and made us who we are today.

In the fourth of the fourth day of the fourth month (basically, fourth anniversary), let us shy away from the past milestones and instead, look ahead.

It is no time to boast on what we’ve done – it is time to think on what we are going to do. What are we going to do next and how should we shift ourselves so that we fit to each other’s missing puzzle piece? What have we been lacking and how will we address them in order to make things work on the long run? What have we done well and would they still be relevant in the future? Have we been focusing on the right things? Aren’t these the questions grown-ups supposed to ask themselves in a mature relationship? After all, we’ve grown, haven’t we?

There are lots of questions to ask and consequently, lots of answers to be sought.

And I believe we should try to seek those answers together.

Happy anniversary, more to come!

cahya 5

P.S. thanks for tolerating me at my worst

P.P.S. On another note I really think I’ve had too much self-development trainings hence lots of self-reflection questions.

I was afraid.

I will be lying if I tell you that yesterday, when a terrorist attack in front of Sarinah happened and afterwards, I was not.

I was afraid. I was afraid that there could be another bomb, that there could be more lives taken, that there could be more mothers out there that lost their sons and daughters, that there could be more children that would have one less parent.

I passed Sarinah in the morning of 14 January 2016 on my way to a meeting in Bunderan HI area, where my taxi stopped in the red traffic light and people getting off the busway en route to their office. It was a normal morning. I even thought of going to the Starbucks that morning. So, having learned later on the day that the very normal crossroad I passed through was the ground zero for some open gunfire, bombs, and grenades, it was nauseating. I lost my appetite for lunch that day, and was surprised that such thing could happen to my city.

It was also surprising for me how my fellow Jakartans reacted to the attack. It was initially fear (obviously, especially some of us were in the vicinity of Sarinah), and then a sense of unity (for which I applaud), and then spirit to “fight” back (for which I really admire). The hashtags came, from #PrayForJakarta (which I personally think, wouldn’t really affect the exchange rate) to #IndonesiaKuat (strong Indonesia) to #KamiTidakTakut (we are not afraid).

Being in the digital age that we are, of course there are plentiful of memes and stories that arose, the most famous one being the satay vendor that are seen 100 m away from ground zero, already selling the food with a lot of customers waiting for their plates to be served. The point of that post was to show that we, Indonesians, are not afraid. And the day will continue to be normal afterwards.

But for me, the day didn’t. I have calmed down, but I kept my alertness up. If the agendas were not urgent, I didn’t end up going.

An attack did happen, a bomb did blow up, people did die – these are the reasons why I refuse to laugh about the attack.

What I thought was: yes, I should not be drowned in terror because that’s exactly what terrorist attacks are for, but I should not also be careless and take the attack lightly.

And I am writing and sharing my two cents just to spread the message to my fellow Jakartans, we do stand together and united, but please, please also keep in mind that yesterday was real. Although arguably in a smaller scale than what happened in Paris, it was still a terrorist attack. Please don’t let your guard down, please always be mindful of your safety and security.

I’m not trying to exaggerate anything, neither am I understating it.

A terrorist attack is not a small matter.

Stay safe.

I am surrounded by people who have “volunteering” in their list of hobbies. Some (well, most) glorify volunteering, saying that it enriches your mind, it broadens your perspective, it feels good, and so on and so forth. Sadly, I have never felt such excitement.

My first ever volunteering was when I volunteered for Museum Konperensi Asia Afrika’s 50th anniversary, only a one-off event and I was just attending the blood donor stand, helping with the documentation and administrative matters. It was a really fun experience; well practically I was helping people to help other people (helpception). It was a very valuable practical communication training as I was partly convincing people to donate their blood and be extra friendly although I cannot really understand what they were saying because I don’t speak Sundanese. So, yes, I had my perspectives broaden; yes, I met and interacted with tons of new people; but it hasn’t given me that addiction everyone’s been saying about.

As an avid National Geographic viewer (and partly because of Dee’s Partikel), one of my lifelong dreams is to volunteer in an orangutan camp in Kalimantan or help with Sumatran Tiger conservation. But, that dream is currently a bit far-fetched and the quickest shortcut is through “voluntourism” (with an ongoing debate about whether it is actually positive) and that trip costs at least Rp25,000,000. Like. No way.

However, this weekend I had the chance to volunteer with equally interesting beings: kids. (I don’t mean to compare them, really)

Some of you might know that I’m a big-time museum fan (to some of you who don’t, well, I love museums), and some of you might know that I am currently having an exchange to the UK whose museums I dear so. So I thought to myself, why didn’t I volunteer at one?

Since September 2013, I have applied to volunteer in four different museums in three different cities and I got no luck. Apparently in the UK there are more people who are willing to help and care about museums than positions the museum could offer (while it’s clearly the other way around in Indonesia). So when some weeks ago The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge emailed me to offer a volunteering position for an event, I was really excited.

The position available is to assist families in art activities in Manet’s The Execution of Maximillian special exhibition. Basically I had to help the children to create artworks based on some subjects Manet painted before. I was a bit reluctant at first to register for it; I was not confident with my English, never was I an artsy girl, and I have never assisted children. It was not the type of volunteer I expected; and I thought to myself, who are you to be picky? So with a carpe diem mentality, I signed up!

Long story short, on 28th February 2014, I received the volunteer briefing documents. I went from really excited to really, really nervous upon reading it. I just realized how complicated it might be working with kids! Additionally, my jokes and idioms are not yet synchronized with those of the British’s. In one night, I researched pages about Manet, learned some painting terms and a minuscule of art history, and made up some fictional dialogues that might happen with the kids the next day.

The D-Day.

I arrived at the museum and met the other two volunteers. One was younger than me (and had volunteered at the museum a couple of times before) and one was older (and had plenty experiences in pubic speaking and handling kids). I was intimidated, really. My Indo-American-ish accent didn’t seem to help either; I just wished the day would go by really quickly.

Just about 20 minutes after the museum opened its exhibitions, two lovely children entered – and one of them was given to me alone to be assisted. At first I started really, really stern. Bless her, the other volunteer noticed this and she helped me. I soon copied her, knowing what level of intimacy I should use, what language, and what topics I should talk about. I became more relaxed. Amazingly, as I open myself more to the lovely little lady, she opened herself more as well. She started sharing her ideas with me and became braver.

As more kids came to paint, I became more in love with what I was doing. I am constantly amazed by how they are genuinely interested at so many things we adults often take for granted. I feel very happy whenever they say “thank you” and smiled very sincerely to me even if I only gave them a new brush or a glass of clean water. I am tickled by their witty imagination and their innocence. Their capacity of loving is enormous; their attachment and affection to their parents and guardians are exceptional. The kids and I would laugh at the littlest thing (“fat brush”), and they would be really excited at the things we might see very boring as adults (“AH! we can draw a crab! Uh-huh! A beach ball as well!”).

One difference I noticed from the kids here in the UK and back home in Indonesia is how their guardians would constantly remind them to use the “magic words”: thank you and please. I once wondered how people here are amazingly enthusiastic at small talks and seemingly very polite – never missed a “thank you” or a “please” in their requests. Seeing how the kids at the museum was reminded to use these words, my questioning is finally answered. All of the kids I helped in the past two days said thank you to the “lovely lady” (me (blush)), and all of them would say please when they ask for something. Perhaps the same thing also happens in Indonesia, but based on my observation I believe that the practice is not conducted as much.

Back to the volunteering, besides learning a new life skill (assisting and interacting with children), I met very kind volunteers along the way. I met a school student (not everyday in Indonesia you met school student volunteering in a museum), a charity worker/public speaker, a uni student, and a young adult like me working as a nanny. Their reasons to volunteer vary but they are all equally sincere. I had a very engaging talk with the charity worker, talking about what kind of jobs I should pursue (related to the recently established twenty-something dilemma and professional insecurity), about the perks of traveling, inequality between developed and developing countries (a subject area I have been interested at recently), and working for a cause.

I went home at 4 p.m. that day with a very satisfied face. I did not eradicate poverty nor world hunger, true, but it feels really good helping someone else you entirely have no personal relationship with, even though it came in the form of cleaning dirty brushes or refilling paints. I went home saying I would volunteer for something else back home and I would continue my relationship and research with Museum Sri Baduga.

Although my volunteering experience is far less intense and frequent than that of my friend’s, let’s just say I finally know what the fuss about volunteering is. And let’s just say I am now officially addicted to it.

Today exactly marks my three months being here in the United Kingdom.

That, and the fact that I have finished my Autumn Term yesterday (and yep, currently spending Winter Break alone in campus) (and my long forgotten promise to blog at least once every week while I’m here), made me feel like I need to write something. So here goes my list of what three months living in the UK as an exchange student has taught me (non-exhaustive) (it’s a weird mix of stuffs) (really):

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Do you want to be in a long-distance relationship?

For most of us, long distance relationship is doom. This survey by an Indonesian blogger (written in Bahasa Indonesia) further proves that LDR is feared by many people; many would discourage LDR-to-be couples by saying “well you could just break-up now, it won’t be any different”.

I used to have the same opinion. I oppose the idea of LDR and don’t believe that relationships could last without a regular physical meeting with your beau. I hear stories here and there of friends in a weepy post-break-up state because of the little troublemaker that is LDR.

Graduating from university means that students will now go back to their hometown, near or far. Hence, lately I received a horde of stories from my friends (and myself and my boyfriend) who are in doubt of the future of their relationships because they will be separated miles away from their significant other. This is, of course, natural. Physical proximity is important in relationship; in fact, a research by Segal in 1974 (Alphabet and attraction: An unobtrusive measure of the effect of propinquity in a field setting) proves that people are more likely to start a relationship with individuals who are physically proximate than those who are at a distance. In a more day-to-day situation, of course it is natural for people to fear for being “in a distance” when you usually spend more than a third of your day with this special someone.

My first try in a long-distance relationship was about six months ago where my boyfriend had to be in Jakarta for his internship while I have to stay in Bandung doing my thesis. It was not much of a distance; it was just 130 km away. No time-zone differences. Yet I still find it weird not having someone you can call in the middle of the night to grab a bowl of Indomie or pick you up because you took the wrong angkot route. We had our share of quarrels; lots of ’em. Weeks later when he had to go to Singapore for a month, it felt like all eternity. For those months, we were able to find a reason to be upset with each other every single day.

It was a tiring situation, and to be honest, I was losing it. I didn’t believe in the relationship. Why keep a relationship going just to fight every single day?

Miraculously, we managed to succeed our first leg of our long-distance relationship. It was my boyfriend who kept on believing on “us” (that sounds a bit too cheesy, doesn’t it?) and said relentlessly “have a little faith.”

Now being on the sixth month of our long-distance relationship (now I am the convict, flying away to the UK for seven months from September), 11,753 kilometres, and seven time zones away, we, to my own surprise, manage to survive.

The teleportation machine is not yet invented (and even if it is, with the current technology it would take 4.85×1015 years) hence we cannot go for a salmon maki and inari sushi every now and then, nor can we hold hands or go to the movie together (but we do have movie dates, powered by Skype). But here we are, one of us widely awake at 20:42, and one of us sleeping serenely at 03:42. Both of us are reaching our dreams; here volunteering in museums and cooking (yes, I do cook regularly now (such an achievement)), and there utilizing IT to make social development more efficient and driving (yes, he can drive now!!!! *throwing flowers*).

Turns out my then-opinion of LDR is just an utterly foolish thing to do was wrong. It has its own benefits and thrills as well.

Why long-distance relationships are not really that bad

(some additional points to this BuzzFeed post)

  1. Quirky dates.
    It might be a reason that resulted from self-pity, but it is still something I like about being in an LDR. Thanks to Jeje, my high school bestfriend, who gave me ideas of video-call-dates I could try doing with my boyfriend. Also thanks to other LDR couples out there whose ideas of a date I took and implement. Among them are movie dates (go on a video call and each one of us would play a movie together at the same time, down to the very second), eat the same menu as if you were out in a restaurant together, have a commemorative romantic dinner (which involves dressing up and eating cakes/desserts), or as simple as skype-ing while cooking.

  2. The mail.
    Who doesn’t love handwritten letters? In the era of emails, Brown & Cony stickers, and WhatsApp’s emoticons, handwritten letters among young couples are as rare as finding shiny pokemons (but I heard it’s not so hard anymore, isn’t it? (I haven’t played Pokemon X & Y omg)). Everyday on my way to the kitchen, I pass my house’s main corridor where the mail slot is located. There are lucky days when I find a letter/postcard/package directed to me among the brochures and leaflets of pizza delivery services; and it surely does boost my mood up, if not bring a smile to my face.

  3. Trust.
    As I’ve hinted in earlier paragraph, the reason why my first long-distance relationship survived was Dika’s constant plea for me to have faith. Being away from each other, you cannot know for sure whether the other end is actually at home, or whether the 20.00 appointment with a group of classmates really is a group of classmates. I have never been so possessive up to the degree of syncing calendars or checking messages inbox, but let’s just say I do not trust people so easily. Being in a long-distance relationship taught me loads about trust: how they are very easily ruined and how they are very hard to obtain.

  4. Maturity
    Long-distance relationship makes me more mature. My childish, clingy self is sometimes faced with the bitter reality that it cannot roam as freely as it usually could. I became more independent. My impatience diminishes. Our selfish selves learn how to compromise. Dika’s indecisiveness shrunk. He became less dramatic. Our (more like my) enormous ego that never wanted to apologize first or the desire to prolong fights, just because, gradually decreases. The brief moments on which we can converse are far too precious to be filled in with meaningless fights.

  5. If we can make it now, we’ll make it later on
    (In Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York tune)
    I see long-distance relationship as a good test to the hearts. If we can survive months of being away from each other now, I have this belief that I can tackle future problems as well. It serves as a stage where couples remake and retest their foundation of relationship until it fits and less shaky. Making an overused analogy, one may compare it to the formation of a diamond; worthless carbons, given tremendous amount of pressure, resulted in a beautiful and valuable diamond. (geuleuh ah)

  6. Lastly, love.
    I love my boyfriend (d’oh). But being in a long-distance relationship…changes it. In a better way. My affection for Dika has grown perhaps into a more mature form of love. It is no longer the unstable love where my feelings for him can change in a nanosecond, nor the kind of love that resulted from a sudden romantic treat. It is no longer roller-coaster-kind-of-love. It doesn’t fluctuate ever so often, not rushed. It has evolved to be one that is calmer, purer, simpler, and more…basic. In an analogy of a theme park ride, maybe it would be a ferris-wheel-kind-of-love. Slow and is ran on a constant speed, yet still exciting (or maybe a carousel? Ferris wheel are kind of boring….)(well I am never good in making analogy). I feel genuinely happy. I do not need nor demand a well-planned romantic evening. It is already very pleasant just to converse in dull, daily stories.


Now back to square one. If asked the same question, do I want a long-distance relationship? Maybe. If I had to choose between eternally in a close physical proximity and long-distance relationship forever, surely I’d choose the earlier one.

But, I would like to argue that couples need it. It is a great source of learning, testing, and rediscovering your relationship. I am genuinely grateful that I am currently on a long-distance relationship. And, thank God, so far it worked 0:-)

Kali pertama saya naik angkot dari ujung Cisitu sampai ujung Tegalega adalah ketika saya nyasar.
Betenya nggak karuan. Bagaimana tidak, saya sedang membawa sebuah koper, satu tas laptop, dan satu tas ransel, nyasar, hujan deras, angkotnya sering mogok, nggak tau jalan, dan baru sebulan di Bandung. Ketika itu, saya berharap agar saya tidak usah lagi ke daerah Tegalega yang ruwet, panas, apalagi naik angkot.

Maka, ketika saya memutuskan untuk meneliti Museum Sri Baduga yang letaknya dekat sekali dengan stasiun Tegalega, penghalangnya hanya satu: saya nggak mau naik angkot ungu itu mentok sampai mentok lagi.

Keteguhan niat (dan kehabisan ide untuk topik Tugas Akhir lain) akhirnya membawa saya bolak-balik Cisitu-Tegalega demi si museum. Tidak pernah terbayang pula oleh saya bahwa pada akhirnya, saya malah menikmati perjalanan 45 menit ke Tegalega naik angkot ini.

Berangkat dari Cisitu yang sarat anak ITB menuju Tegalega yang sarat asap knalpot dan debu, perjalanan ini melewati begitu banyak ragam tempat, ragam orang, ragam jenis kegiatan. Di Cihampelas selalu, tidak pernah tidak, ramai pengunjung dari luar, sibuk membeli baju “I Love Bandung” dan gelang-gelang kulit sintetis di pinggir jalan dan mencoba es duren dan mochi-mochian merah-hijau. Mereka datang entah dengan bis yang diparkir di Factory Outlet (yang dulunya restoran) Arum Manis atau dengan mobil sendiri yang entah diparkir dimana. Selalu bergerombol, jarang sekali sendiri. Perjalanan kali ini saya tersenyum melihat pool X-Trans di seberang Ontjom Raos, terbayang saatnya nanti ketika tempat tersebut tidak lagi saya kunjungi secara reguler per bulan, ketika nantinya saya tidak menetap di Bandung. Pasti sakit rasanya nanti.

Beranjak menuju arah Stasiun, lagi-lagi saya tersenyum. Mengingat Yogyakarta dan Baluran, dan keripik tempe, coklat Cha-Cha, bistik, dan pecel Madiun yang dihabiskan didalamnya. Lucu ya, melihat stasiun. Persis seperti bandara, ia menjadi saksi perpisahan dan perjumpaan kembali. Entah seberapa pilunya masuk ke peron atau gate, euforia berjumpa kembali dengan orang tersayang selalu membuat berada di stasiun dan bandara nagih. Namun itu cerita lain lagi.

Dari “sisi turis” Bandung, angkot ungu ini beranjak ke tempat yang…lebih lokal. Setelah stasiun sudah terlihat beda raut muka orang-orangnya. Ada ibu-ibu keturunan Tionghoa (yang bahasa Sundanya fasih sekali walau sesekali terdengar kata-kata Hokkian) yang baru selesai olahraga, naik di Pasir Kaliki turun di dekat Pasar Baru. Ada juga pengamen yang naik dan “nebeng” dari depan Paskal Hyper Square dan turun di perempatan setelahnya. Tidak luput pula ibu-ibu yang habis belanja, naik di Pasar Baru dan turun di Stasiun Tegalega untuk ganti ke Cibaduyut. Mereka semua fasih berbahasa Sunda, dan saya hampir yakin ketika saya selesai TA dan bolak-balik nanti saya bisa berbahasa Sunda.

Di Bandung Utara tadi banyak pohon. Di Bandung Selatan lebih banyak ruko. Mulai dari yang menjajakan baju biasa sampai baju sablonan, duplikat kunci hingga duplikat piala, cetak kartu nama hingga cetak undangan kawinan. Makanan pun beragam. Dari makanan Cina (Bakmi Akim, misalnya) di daerah yang, sampai sekarang jujur saya tidak tahu namanya, saya sebut “Chinatown” sampai jajanan-jajanan tidak sehat sarat MSG di gerobak-gerobak.

Angkot yang saya naiki ini akan masuk gang-gang off track kalau macet. Untung bagi si Bapak angkot, untung juga untuk saya! Saya jadi melihat empat orang bapak-bapak yang sedang ngopi-ngopi di pos satpam, tertawa, memberikan suatu scene yang nampaknya akan cocok difoto oleh kamera-kamera manual seperti yang teman saya suka foto. Saya jadi melewati mbok-mbok jamu yang ternyata masih banyak! Di rumah saya di Tangerang sudah jarang, soalnya.

Keluar-keluar, angkot sudah sampai Astana Anyar. Jalanan yang saya rasa tidak pernah sepi ini mungkin kalau diukur PSI-nya bisa sampai level unhealthy-hazardous. Lihatnya saja pusing. Seakan-akan motor yang terdaftar di Bandung harus melewati jalanan ini biar afdol. Angkot-angkot yang warna dan coraknya jarang saya temukan di Dago sana mulai berseliweran. Dari yang kuning-hijau-merah sampai yang oranye-putih. Damri yang saya kira tidak beroperasi pun muncul disini. Ada juga kendaraan lintaskota menuju kota-kota lain di Jawa Barat yang saya tidak hapal namanya.

Sampailah kita di Stasiun Tegalega! Stasiun yang kali pertama saya kunjungi dalam keadaan banjir dan becek ini ternyata tidak sebegitu buruk dalam keadaan kering. Tantangan berikutnya adalah menyebrang jalan. Serius, kalau mau jadi certified pedestrian kayanya harus lolos tes menyebrang jalan di daerah sini. Motor yang intensitasnya kalau dijadikan kekuatan arus sungai mungkin adalah level 4 dan angkot yang melaju penuh determinasi itu rasanya tidak ikhlas membiarkan pejalan kaki menyebrang. Ditambah dengan terik dan debu yang amat sangat, penyebrangan menuju taman Bandung Lautan Api menjadi salah satu area penyebrangan tersulit yang pernah saya lewati.

Ketika anda sudah berhasil menyebrang dan menjadi certified pedestrian, anda harus berhadapan dengan aa’-aa’ yang sedang memasang tendanya di Pasar Kaget Tegalega. Tantangannya adalah bagaimana anda bisa menemukan jalanan yang bisa dilewati diantara barang jualan mereka, tetap awas melihat rangka-rangka besi yang mereka pakai di atas kepala anda, dan tahan dengan aa’ yang sesekali menyapa ramah, “mau kemana, yang?”

Mungkin perjalanan ini tidak terdengar menyenangkan, sumpek, kotor, debu, bau. Tetapi, saya menemukan kenikmatan tersendiri dapat bertegur sapa dengan bapak-bapak yang menjual jaket Adidas dan Nike di pinggir jalan, mencuri dengar Mbok Jamu yang sedang mengobrol dengan supir angkot trayek Cibaduyut, melihat remot-remot “serbaguna” dan pretelan motor bekas, mendengar alunan musik disco-dance-dugem di Bandung Atas sana digantikan oleh alunan dangdut koplo, dan mendengar obrolan-obrolan berbahasa Sunda di dalam angkot yang hanya bisa saya tebak-tebak artinya.

Sama halnya dengan kenikmatan yang saya dapatkan ketika berjalan-jalan ke luar kota atau luar negeri, dalam perjalanan 45 menit itu saya melihat orang-orang baru dengan gaya hidup yang berbeda. Lucu juga ketika dipikir-pikir bahwa perbedaan itu hanya beberapa kilometer jauhnya dari tempat tinggal saya.

Dan entah bagaimana caranya, rasanya, setiap perjalanan 45 menit kesana menyajikan kesan yang berbeda serta cerita-cerita yang berbeda setiap kalinya. Angkot ungu itu ternyata tidak seburuk itu juga.


Pikiran dan perasaan dalam angkot ungu yang tempat duduknya dilapisi spanduk bekas rokok merk “Black”, dari Cisitu ke Tegalega, 29 Juni 2013.