Every expat living in Indonesia for a longer period must have had experienced that moment of going out of a country for few days just to arrange new visa. I feel so home living on Indonesian islands that I easily forget I’m still very foreigner in here. Until I’m forced to realize that each and every time my visa would expire and would need to think about new one.
I’ve been told many times already to burn my passport and move to a tiny island where nobody can find me to live my tropical happily ever after. The idea that I’m still considering as one of the possible plans though.
I always go to Malaysia for my visa run, which for me is a excellent break from Indonesia, treating me with Indian food and yogurt available at every convenience store. So I went back again, this time alone and booked a single room (I guess avoiding dorms is how I know I’m getting old(er)) in a center of Little India, Brickfields. My first Indian meal was dinner in the middle of the street: me having big plastic table for myself, sitting on a red and sure plastic chair, yelling at waiter while ordering because of really loud Indian pop from the speakers couple of meters away and finally feasting on one and only tandoori chicken.
Next day I decided to find again Bangladesh restaurant I visited two years ago. Following blurry memory my starving stomach guided me towards it without getting lost. I decided for chicken curry, naan bread, some veggies and teh tarik, black tea with milk and spices. As I sat down and prepare my camera for a meal going to be served, a man sat down across the table and start asking me good old and for me already extremely boring questions of where I am from and how long am I staying. While wishing I would have personal assistant sitting next to me answering all those questions, I kindly answered them all. He was dressed in very fine outfit which consisted of two matching grey garments: shalwar, loose pantaloons pants and kameez, long body shirt. Assuming he is just another (curious) costumer I was surprised when he told me, he is from Pakistan, working in this restaurant, making naan bread. At that moment I felt competent to ask further questions. I figured out he is living in Kuala Lumpur for about five years now – alone. His family, his wife and three years old child, are in Pakistan. He goes home every year for a month or two to visit. He claimed this is better as to bring his wife and child to Malaysia. Having similar stories on my plate before, I was left speechless again knowing how much disclaiming and rarely shown feelings are involved into that kind of life style. I left full of sadness and admiration to this man being strongly dedicated to provide for his family in such way.
I googled what else could I do in Brickfields area, except suffering Indian food coma, and was left with Buddhist Thean Hou temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and blind massage a minute walk from my guesthouse. On the hill based Thean Hou offered me view on city landscape over dragon topped pagoda rooftops and blind massage left me with another life story.
Climbing up narrow stairs of Blind Massage Centre AA and arriving at simple, with red roses stickers decorated place, did not make me anxious, because I’m familiar with such environments and more, Google provide me with information about that as well. I was greeted by a blind man, who turned out to be an owner and quickly arranged a female masseuse for me. I’m quite new to massage world and was expecting a silent hour and relaxed muscles. What I’ve really got was chatty Chinese woman in mid-fifties and excellent press massage. Her phone was beeping every fifteen minutes letting her know how much time she has left. She even answered two phone calls, which I totally understood once she told me she is a freelancer struggling for her gigs. She originates from Johor Bharu and came to Kuala Lumpur at age of eighteen with perfect eyesight to treat her tumor. After treatment she became almost completely blind and just stayed in Kuala Lumpur. Her Chinese parents also originate from Johor Bharu, it was her grandparents who moved from China which she visited only once. As tumor treatment left her infertile too, she now lives in Brickfields alone with husband, who is also blind and masseur. They are living day to day in a tiny room which is all they can afford. They only have bed, fan and water heater to make tea or instant noodles. Prices in the area are rising because of tourism and the room costs them 130 Euro per month. Not sure how much she gets per massage, but I have paid 8 Euros which goes first to an owner. Simple Chinese noodle soup on the street costs 1,5 Euro and I guess they treat themselves with 3 Euros Indian tastes only on special occasions, if ever.
Regardless of hot and humid weather wandering around on foot city refreshed me. Hearing those stories I was filled with a lots of inspiration and motivation: to keep going.