I had planned my trip to Indonesia oh-so “quietly” I only told some people that I was coming. The mission: to surprise my mom who thought that she is not going to see me until next year or after I move to Perth, and to surprise R & E who are dear friends and were getting married. For someone whose activities and itineraries are followed and tracked down by the glory of facebook, it was pretty hard to keep my schedule in the dark and stop myself from the urge of sharing the news.
Initially I wouldn’t even tell my dad I was coming, but my parents had just moved to the south part of the city, and knowing my mom and her “collection” of boxes (she even keeps stuff I brought back from Australia almost a decade a go!) which practically fill up the huge storage and other empty spaces, I knew that someone needed to prepare my room, or I’d end up spending nights sleeping on top of the 10 year-old unopened boxes! Plus my parents – just like their daughter – travel around and I had to make sure they’re home.
So I swore my dad to secrecy. He wasn’t contented with my intention, but I finally managed to persuade him to go along with my plan. Just like what I suspected, my room is used for storage and dad quietly prepared the guest room. A little crisis happened when dad installed the curtain out of the blue and it was 5cm shorter than the window height. He hurriedly texted me and wondered if it was the time to let my mom know (so she could fix the curtain and prepare the room accordingly), but I begged him to stick with the plan. He told me that mom wondered why he was suddenly so interested in tidying up the guest room but helplessly couldn’t utter any excuse. He was very anxious on the day he was supposed to pick me up because mom suddenly asked him to drive her somewhere else. Finally though he managed to sneak out and pick me up at the airport.
He called my mom from the garage door, telling her that she had an important guest. I was standing quietly on the doorstep, waiting for her, and seconds later mom appeared with puzzled look as she didn’t expect any guest that day. She looked at me for several seconds before realising that it was me who was standing there. She screamed, sobbed, laughed, and hugged me at the same time, and the delight and joy she threw was priceless. And of course, after minutes of waterworks she realised that my dad was my partner in crime for the past two weeks. He is still grounded until today for almost giving her a heart attack, to say the least….
The surprise continued last Saturday when I attended R&E’s wedding. I have told them I wasn’t coming, I wouldn’t have enough time to go back to Indonesia – as I am busy preparing everything to move to Perth next month – at least until next year. Little did they know that I was planning a surprise appearance. Tamara was very convincing when she delivered the present, telling the groom that I had to go to London to meet her (fake) cousin, who then flew to Jakarta, gave it to Tamara, who then arranged the meeting with him with fabricated story. At the same time I also sent texts from my UK number to the bride and groom, wishing them good luck on their preparation. On the day of the wedding, my (real) cousin delivered the cupcakes to the couple’s hotel room in the afternoon, between their ceremony and reception, while at the same time I was confirming what I should do that night with the wedding organizer, who, conveniently, was my and the couple’s ex colleague. I was picked up on the hotel lobby on the agreed time, and hiding behind Reynolds’s back. Reynolds – who was living in Aberdeen as well and told the couple he wasn’t coming either – had made a surprise appearance in the morning at the traditional ceremony and probably had convinced the couple that he was the surprise and nothing else. But when the groom was singing for the bride, Reynolds was moving forward, slowly, inch by inch towards the centre stage, where the couple stood. When the song stopped I emerged from Rey’s back and both of them saw me there, holding a bouquet, freshly arrived from Scotland, grinning, just for them. It was an emotional moment – to say the least!
But the fun has not stopped at the wedding just yet. I found out that an acquaintance’s new boyfriend turns out to be another friend’s client who is actually married with several kids – and most likely both the girlfriend and wife do not know their man’s extra curricular activity. The stories were delivered separately by different people in different time. I have heard about the new boyfriend a couple of weeks before I went to Indonesia, and for some reason the information stuck. The other slice of information was told as a part of the work related gossip, delivered innocently and with no other intention but to update me about who’s who in the industry, and it took me several minutes to note that the details I was hearing about this guy was the same detail I heard a fortnight a go. I blurted that the guy was probably this lady’s boyfriend, only to be presented with the most powerful fact that he is married. I was so stunned by this… revelation, that I simply refused to believe it, but considering the details are so specific and unique it is impossible there are more than 1 person who tick all boxes. It is more about how and not what I find about that is surprising. Many men (and women) commit adulteries it is hardly news, but it is funny it was me, who doesn’t even live in Jakarta, who found out about this guy’s true colour.
Talking about true colour, I accidentally found out more about a blogger who launched a bizarre virtual attack on me a while a go and it came from someone who actually knew her in the real world, not just virtually, which in short confirms what I have had experienced so far.
Jakarta is the city full of surprises. Some are intentional, some are leaked out effortlessly. The city is so big people think they could easily hide in the jungle of concrete walls and behind the back of millions 0f people. But the city is a big village where everybody knows everybody and it is almost impossible to keep any secret. You utter one name and sooner or later someone will tell you this person’s pet’s name and favourite colour.
But as I am seating here at Cazbar (where else?) in quiet working hours, I was surprised to find out how careless people can be. A group of four at my five-o’clock direction was conducting a very serious business talk in both English and Indonesian and I could practically hear everything, from the name of the company, the Indonesian guy’s job, the money they were trying to agree on, et cetera. And as if it wasn’t enough, when their Indonesian counterpart has left, the remaining people called someone up, put him on the speaker phone, asked the waitstaff to turn the music down, and talked so loud I could hear every single word. Like this isn’t scary enough, the group who was sitting right in front of me was discussing about the legal complications one of them was having and the other guy who was wearing a uniform suggested how much money this guy has to pay to smooth things up. I understand that Cazbar’s quietness probably makes the patrons think they could have private conversations, which might be too sensitive to be done in the office, but really, folks, there are reasons why your office have meeting rooms – or if you still insist on having your meetings at Cazbar, perhaps it is a good idea to lower your voice or go to the second floor.
Maybe, just maybe, since it seems that secrets are unfolded naturally before my very eyes continuously, I should be a spy. Does MI5 have a job for me?