Buy Home, Get Villa
The jalan tol
on the way into the satellite town of Bumi Simstown Damai (BSD), is littered with hoardings advertising real estate, an oxymoron given the nature of the housing on offer. I've already briefly commented
on the more outrageous phrases which are designed to distract drivers from the absolutely appalling condition of the road surface, but a recent banner, with the title of this post, got me musing about the nature of a home.
First up, I've always thought of villas as being a Roman concept, a comfortable abode with loads of servant quarters, possibly with a nice view overlooking the Mediterranean. Whether a villa is really suited to the floodplain of Jakarta is a matter of conjecture. Actually, it isn't: Jakarta is sinking thanks to massive overbuilding and the rapacious sucking out of the groundwater in the underlying artesian basin
and nowhere is really suitable for building anything.
Whatever, there is a vast range of accomodation to suit all pockets, needs and comfort zones: apartment - serviced or otherwise, bungalow, castle, caravan, cave, cottage, log cabin, palace, shack, studio, terraced town house, whatever.Where
you live is, of course, another matter. Ideally you'd avoid a commute and most needs would be met locally, which is presumably the primary aim of satellite towns such as BSD. The traffic into Jakarta of a morning is a strong indication of failure.
In truth, I feel grateful that I've managed to stay in Jakartass Towers for over twenty years. We're close to the toll roads to everywhere, we can catch a train or the Busway to north Jakarta and, yet we aren't subject to the noise and exhaust pollution of main roads. I'm more than glad that I'm not like other expats here, such as the Malaysian at GadhoGadho
, who is forced to move on for the umpteenth time in his so far short time here. I doubt that he feels at home.
In terms of housing needs, a possible answer for metropolitan dwellers, if there were optimum telecommunications here, would be a website
which could tell you exactly which is the best area to live in, be your needs related to schooling, shopping, dealing, drinking or simply getting away from it all.
So what is a home?
Home is where the heart is: it's wherever I lay my hat and with my partner: it's where my familiars are, my books, paintings, sounds and diaries: it's the postman, the meter reader and a few of the ojek
riders at the end of the street. It's the other long-term residents in the area, the warung-keepers, my computer consultant, it's the kids who come to play with Our Kid. I'm as much a part of the street furniture as they are.
It's the charming tattiness of our old Jakarta-style single storey house which faces east and allows breezes to flow straight through: it's the few leaks which re-occur every rainy season, and all the other minor repairs which have to be done thanks to the shoddy fittings.
It's the young neighbours who like to play drum'n'bass first thing in the morning, and I do mean first thing, with the emphasis on the bass. It's the familiar sounds of the tone deaf mosque keeper at the anointed hours. It's the occasional ringing of church bells from a couple of miles away when the wind is in the right direction, or maybe when there's none at all. I like to sit on the terrace at sunset to absorb the ambient sounds - and the too brief ten minutes of silence which envelopes the neighbourhood.
It's the early morning joggers, including my lead lawyer who lives opposite: pagi pak
. It's the really old man in the kampung
on the bank of the River Ciliwung who keeps chickens and pigeons and, like the kampung
kids - Good morning, Om
- is beginning to speak English to me - owaryoo
- as I walk through.
To get a home, you need to get a life, and that's not something you can buy. Our home is what we have made. A place for us, our family and friends. We didn't buy it, and I figure that no-one can. A home is ephemeral, a memory bank.
So. by all means buy a villa, or an apartment - serviced or otherwise, a castle, a cave, a log cabin, a palace, a shack, a studio, a terraced town house. Or a caravan.
A Place Of My Own
- CaravanI got this place of my ownWhere I can goWhen I feel I'm coming down.We'll do our best to ensureYou'll feel secure
When you come.