Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.
After a couple of days, I calmed down. Simon had been in Malaysia on business during that time and we had arranged to meet when he got back. I wanted to see him face-to-face, hear his side of the story about the incident at Jeff’s apartment and just feel him out a bit more as a person.
We met at a coffee shop in FX mall in Surdiman where the big EF school was located. It was central and the only place I really knew outside of Taman Angrekk. He arrived a little later then me looking a little bit sheepish. Nonetheless, he greeted me with his customary firm hand shake and big toothy smile before sitting down and filling me in on the details of what had happened at Jeff’s apartment.
There really wasn’t much more to add. It was pretty much as Jeff had told me. The only other pertinent detail was that Jeff had threatened to expose some porn that he had found on Simon’s phone to the Indonesian authorities. Simon assured me that it wasn’t anything creepy and I didn’t see any reason not to believe him. Despite being quite nervy, the effusive confidence that I had seen in him somewhat dampened, this was mainly down to his concern about how any pornographic material might be perceived in such a devoutly Muslim country. However, considering the blatant prostitution on display at Blok M and the far less than modest dress of some of the women to be seen around the nightlife in Jakarta, I convinced him that he was unlikely to be publicly stoned for looking at some naughty pictures and a few porn clips. Despite its strong Islamic influence, Indonesia was not Saudi Arabia. However, his arrogance concerned me a little.
Simon showed no remorse for the personal loss he had caused Jeff; the poor man had lost all those personal photos of his wedding and his only child, but Simon didn’t seem to care. He actually believed that Jeff was the one who owed him an apology for his overreaction! Losing his temper, shouting and calling up security – how dare he!? From Simon’s pragmatic viewpoint, what had happened at Jeff’s apartment was simply an unfortunate accident. A misjudgement. He had apologised and had agreed to pay Jeff back for any of his financial losses, so in Simon’s mind there was no need for the ranting and raving – the nerve of the man was incredible! As a father myself, I explained to him how angry I would have been. I told him that had it been me, I would probably have beaten the shit out of him. Nevertheless, he was unrepentant, something that I kept in mind as we eventually agreed to a flat share.
I felt that I could manage Simon. He had already cocked up so he wasn’t likely to do it again. I think he also knew that I wasn’t of the same placable temperament as Jeff. Furthermore, he was still paranoid about the potential repercussions of Jeff going to the authorities and telling the story of how he let a Bule stay in his home with his Indonesian wife and child, not knowing that this dirty man who indulged in porn would expose his family to thieving prostitutes. Simon may have known as little about Jakarta as I did, but he knew more about Asian culture and I guess it was in his best interests to avoid any problems that could jeopardise his life and work situation here. Besides, I had agreed to broker the payment of the 16,000,000 IDR that he had told Jeff he would give him as consolation for his financial loses. This was around a £1000.
His cheap lay had proved to be pretty damn expensive!
On the whole, the situation had put me in a vantage point because Simon really couldn’t afford to piss me off. It was with this in mind that I agreed to go ahead with the flat share. We would take Vivi’s apartment and I would pay him on a monthly basis as long as I wanted to stay. He had seen pictures of the place, all that was needed was to meet Vivi, sort out the paperwork, pay the deposit and make arrangements for moving in at the beginning of the following month, which was less than a week away. He even agreed to let me have the bigger room at no extra cost, so on the whole I was getting a very good deal. Perhaps some bad things do happen for good reasons. In the meantime, he would be staying in a hotel in the north of the city. It was quite a way away from Taman Anggrek, so there was little chance of him bumping into Jeff.
After our chat, we cordially shook hands on our agreement and Simon shuffled off to a meeting with one of his clients. I headed off to look around the mall for a sports shop that sold swimming goggles. I just couldn’t cope with the stinging feeling in my eyes from the pool, and I had been missing my morning swims. They were like my period of meditation within the chaos of my current Jakarta life.
I was now within touching distance of finally having a permanent place to live, albeit sharing with an imperfect stranger. I had never flat-shared before, so despite my relief at sorting out my housing issue, I was starkly aware of the possibility that there was plenty that could still go wrong. But for the time being, I really didn’t want to think about it.