Two months a go, when I was enjoying my (another) holiday, I bumped into Bart in Cazbar at lunch time. The last time I saw him was probably in our wedding, as he had relocated to Bali and we moved to Scotland, so it was a nice surprise to see him again. He told me he’s opening a new shop, “upstairs,” his index fingers pointing upward, “on the 4th floor”. Is it Sweet Home Obama shop? No, it’s antique maps and books gallery.
I was excited, I know such shop doesn’t exist in Indonesia, but who’s going to buy antique maps? Is there a market here? Bart is very convinced there would be. Hence, the shop above Cazbar. He offered me to snoop around, but I said I will when it’s ready.
I mentioned about an antique book shop in Bath, where I found an antique Indonesian map. “It’s not that expensive,” It told him proudly, “even though it’s from the 19th century.” The shop also has first edition of Hemingway’s book on display with £2,000 price tag. And lots of old prints too. He nodded and told me he’s off to the Netherlands, and might go to UK as well to search antique maps and books for his new shop. “Well pop in and visit us in Aberdeen then,” I said.
Bart said he might as well, he hadn’t been to Scotland.
I didn’t forget the encounter, as when I arrived back in Scotland the week after, it was the first thing I told mr.mck. “He said he might visit us here too.” Mr.mck was delighted. It was Thursday afternoon. I was suffering from jet lag – especially because I was stranded in Schipol from 6 AM until 3 PM – the day was cold and windy and wet, and all I wanted was to go to bed. I dreamed about doing nothing on the next day at all, just sit down with hot cuppa and Tilly cat, who looked really happy that I was back, curled up on my lap.
But mr.mck quickly reminded we would have dinner with his boss and his wife at Malmaison Brasserie on Friday night. We love Malmaison, the whole hotel decor is very Scottish but it is very modern and nicely done, the staffs are friendly, the ambiance is great, and the food is fantastic. The dinner, as predicted, was excellent, and as usual we ate too much and drunk too much.
It was midnight when we got home. Too many red wine always makes me sleepy – plus don’t forget the jet lag – so I jumped into bed where Tillycat had been waiting all along. Mr.mck checked on his iphone and suddenly, looked surprised, he turned to me and announced: “Bart is coming.”
“Bart. He’s coming to visit us here. He’s in NL now.”
“Oh yeah, I remember he said he might. So he’s coming? When? Next week?”
“Tomorrow night. Saturday, 10PM.”
I quickly calculated that we would actually have the whole day on Saturday to tidy up before Bart showed up. So it’s alright. I will wake up late tomorrow. I will get over my jet lag. I will have time to prepare the bed in the guest room. And I’ll cook something up for supper.
But the next morning, after Mr.mck went down to feed Tillycat her breakfast, he came back holding his iphone. “Hun,” he said. “Bart is coming.”
“I knowww…” I was still half dead, “But it’s not until 10 PM tonight. We still have time.” It was so cold on the outside world I didn’t want to get out of the comfort of my bed.
“No,” mr.mck now was shaking me, “It’s 10 AM.”
“10 AM. Ten o’ clock in the morning! Less than 2 hours from now. Get up, get up!”
Bart showed up indeed about 10 AM. He profusely apologised, but I think he liked to surprise us and caught us off guard. He didn’t realise Tillycat wasn’t happy because she missed her morning cuddle – she gave him a cold stare the whole time when we sat on the living room having our coffee and tea. I showed Bart our antique Indonesian map. He examined it for a while and guess the price. “Is it about £40.00?” He’s correct! How does he know? He just shook his head, because like a magician, he wouldn’t reveal his trick.
We went for lunch at a pub – as Bart and his friend wanted to sample the real English – whoops, sorry, Scottish – pub food , then headed to an antique map shop on the corner. I had never been to the shop. One, because it only sells antiques, not really something I look for on daily basis, and two, because the door is closed. Any shop with closed door only indicates that they want certain customers: customers who know what they want, or customers with money. But we went inside this time, and I was in awe. The shop was full of beautiful maps and sketches, and prints, even an antique furniture and one grand piano. I wonder if the piano still sounds good and was about to touch it, but mr.mck slapped my hand. “Don’t!”
“Can we get one map of Scotland then?” I ask mr.mck. “That would be a great wall decoration when we’re in Australia!”
Mr.mck thought it was a good idea too. I pointed at one map, framed and hung next to the window display. “How about that one? It’s only £80.00.”
Mr.mck looked at it carefully and turned around, “It’s £800.00, not £80.00!”
What? How come a piece of paper can be so expensive? I began to look at Bart with new admiration. He must know what he’s doing and is really serious about it! I mean if he starts buying one map at a time, for 16 million rupiahs each, how much money does he need to invest on his new shop? Bart, on the other hand, had already been questioning the owner of the shop, a guy who looks older than the stuff he sells. “How about that one?” Bart pointed out a bigger map, a world map, which looks so old but also so beautiful. “Oh, that is…” the antique guy checked on his list, “… £4,000.00…”
4,000 quid? 80 million rupiahs? For one map?
“I can give you £100.00 discount,” the antique guy quickly offered. Like it will make a big difference on the total price.
Bart patiently explained to my amateur eyes that the older the map, the more details it has, the more expensive it becomes. But my 19th century Indonesian map is only £35.00, I wanted to protest, but quickly shut myself up as I remembered that the lady at the shop said it’s a page from an atlas book, not a real map.
I looked around at the antique shop and realised they must have really expensive stuff here. No wonder the door is always closed! Bart didn’t buy anything at the end, but he obtained the owner’s name card. He wants, he later explains, to concentrate on Dutch and Indonesian antique maps. Guess not many people want to buy antique Scotland map in Indonesia anyway.
The next day he went away for the whole day with Party Dad and came back with several books. They are all big and heavy with thick covers. He proudly showed them to us. “First edition,” he said. “Very old.”
I didn’t dare to ask how much he paid for the books.
I didn’t hear anything from Bart again, until the newsletter came to my inbox. Bartele Gallery, selling rare antique maps, prints, and books, starts to open from last Monday, December 21st, 2009. Come and have a look. The complete address is Kantor Taman E3.3, unit A-1, 4th floor. Access is from the Cazbar, where you go into the elevator that takes you to the 4th floor. Just ask the barmaid if you think you’re lost. It will be a great alternative presents for your boss, business partners, or your loved ones. I certainly want to buy an Indonesian map, a real one this time, not a tear-off of some atlas book!
And if you spot a big world map, it might be the one with 80 million rupiahs price tag….