Friday, April 22, 2005

Changes, Happenings, Decisions and Plans.

Despite my earlier vow to start posting more regularly, I find myself sitting here a month after the last post...sigh. Where does the time go? There are times when I look at the computer sitting there and think, okay, I‘ll just have a coffee then sit down and do the business. Then something crops up, Lil D wandering about, Lil C wanting to play, C, she who must be obeyed (where does that phrase come from??) needing a sleep after a sleepless night tending to a teething baby...the list goes on.

Today it’s a public holiday, and all is quiet. Lil C is watching “Blues Clues” (a product of our 24 hour kids channel that can be a lifesaver a times!), Lil D crawling about pulling chairs all over the place, furniture hopping as he wanders from one piece to another, trying out that new phenomenon: walking. He has already taken a few steps, but is reluctant still to take the big leap and cross the floor on two pins. Lil C is very good, she is patient to a fault with the baby. Allowing him to bite her toes as she sits curled up on the sofa, crawl all over her, and follow her everywhere. He gets upset now when he can’t join in, recognising that Lil C is much more fun than parent or nanny.

A lot has happened since my last post. My brother turned up for a ten day visit, first time he has been here since he left as a teenager in the late seventies. In fact, his first trip abroad since then. It must have been quite an eye-opener for him. We had a great time, doing the sightseeing, the nightseeing, and a trip to Bandung thrown in for good measure.
Not sure what he made of it all here but he has promised to contribute an article to this blog.

Big A arrived on a Thursday night, picked him up from the airport, and took him home. He came well prepared, a sheet of indo phrases at hand in case he had hassles at immigration, my address and contact numbers etc, but I think he was a bit disappointed to find that the immigration officer was relaxed about his stay and waved him through with a minimum of fuss, not allowing Big A to try out his carefully rehearsed lines! We bumped out way through the traffic along the back way home, as it’s a shorter distance than taking the toll, and for the first time in ages found myself looking at things with new eyes, due to the Big A sitting next me.

Suddenly the potholed road became a reality, not something one just bounces over, and the mad mayhem of motorbikes and cars and trucks and buses looked a bit too close for comfort. God knows what Big A was thinking.

I’ll let Big A tell the rest of his story here, but did treat him royally the following night, taking him to various favourite nightspots, crawling home at 4 am, ‘not bad for a bunch of old bastards’ someone commented. Then it was off to Bandung, experiencing some hair rising driving by our driver who as time goes on, is starting to convince himself that the car is actually taking part in the Paris to Dhaka rally. One tries to act nonchalant for Big A, who, when I turn around from the front seat at one stage, find him having quietly put on a seatbelt. Have to hand it to him, he didn’t say a word except in response to a couple of nervous comments by me after one or two particularly close moments when one suddenly sees ones life flashing past. Couldn’t believe how calm he was, at least I had been here for a while and have had so many of those moments that the life flashes start to take on a chapter by chapter format.

Big A left the following Friday night and a good time was had by all. I really enjoyed his stay; it was great to catch up after over two years of not seeing each other.

Another relative (cousin) drops in for two days on his way to Sydney then Canberra. Flew in on a Saturday, stayed with a friend for the night then picked him up Sunday night. On the Monday gave him car and driver and he went up to the mountains to check on the safari zoo, cars drive through and animals wander around in a free setting. It's nice to visit, did it ourselves awhile back. Tuesday he did the shopping, and sent him on his way that night. It was nice to see him, been a few years since we had caught up. Think he enjoyed his quick visit, leaving with the comment that he would like to come stay for longer next time, possibly even try for a transfer here. Jakarta does have that effect on some people!

The past few weeks have also been full of planning for the next two years. Flew to Surabaya on a Sunday night for a quick one day visit to a school there, went to an interview at a big school here in jkt, and finally found myself accepting a possie at the Surabaya school. It took a lot of discussion between C and me. It wasn’t an easy decision as there was so much to think about in terms of future. We aren’t getting any younger, both approaching forty this year, and not sure if it would be best to head home to allow C to find a job and get back into the workforce, or take the plunge at this school. One of the deciding factors was the role I would be taking on, learning and then implementing the International Baccalaureate curriculum. With this under my belt, we could look further afield after two years and sample the international schools in other regions. Plus, there was a chance C could find work in Surabaya, or ‘Boro’ as the local expats call it due to its manufacturing industries scattered about.

It’s a lovely school, well run by all accounts by a group of expats, good facilities, well resourced, located in a designed satellite city about 30 minutes drive from the city centre. We get a nice house and Lil C finally moves into an English speaking school run by professionals using the IB PYP program.

The conditions are also much better, flights to and from for all the family, visas, sports club membership, health plan etc. Even a golf membership for what I’m told is one of the best in Java. Never played the game but guess I could give it a shot. Could do with losing some kilo’s, too much good food here, the middle aged spread is starting, in fact, has, taken hold.

There is a major exodus of expats leaving my current school, at last count 8 out of 12 are going. I feel guilty to go when the year 12’s are still in the middle of their course, but the schools here all hire for July, so no option but to go now if I want the job. Hopefully they will be able to find replacements for all the staff, but a lot depends on head office that have treated the staff somewhat cavalierly over the past year or so. Must admit I don’t feel much loyalty towards the school, but a lot to the kids who struggle through with constant changes and staff turnover, all set amongst a poor management system. Guess head office will either now start to sit up and take notice and question themselves as to why so many expats are leaving, or will just continue on their merry way, wasting resources and making bad decisions.

One teaching couple are continuing their adventure by signing on to Beijing, another couple to a school in jkt, another to a Christian expat run school, one to a Catholic expat run school, one to Bandung, and myself to Surabaya. Will be interesting to keep in touch and see how they are all doing in a year’s time!

The only downside is that we have to sell the car before going. I’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into it, but the practicalities of taking it to Boro make it difficult. Here, when one buys a second hand car, its rare to transfer the car into ones own name, instead people keep it in the name of the original owner, renewing the rego each year by borrowing their ID and paying the tax. To transfer a car to another takes time, effort, and cost, something most shy away from! A good buddy at my school has already decided he wants it, and will do the handover in June.

We have a trip looming with the whole family going to Brisbane for mums 70th birthday. We are looking forward to seeing the clan, it’s going to be a big get together for a few days, with everyone coming together after more than 12 (?) years apart. The plan is to fly to Boro after my contract finishes in late June, get settled, then fly to Denpasar for a couple of days of relaxation, before heading to Brisbane, and then repeating the same steps back.

We will buy another car when we are finally settled in Boro, this time may get something a bit stronger as the mountains are a popular retreat from the heat of the city. Apparently its very nice up there, villas etc abound in the cool climate, making it a favourite destination for the locals and expats alike. Another plus is the close proximity to Bali. A lot of expats will make the short flight for a long weekend to enjoy sand and surf etc. Thus, we should be seeing a lot more of Bali over the next couple of years!


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