67: The Odd Couple

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.


That night, Simon took his new girlfriend back to our place and I had the unwanted pleasure of listening to them having a good old meat slapping session, which was a bit uncomfortable.

In fairness, I could tell by the restrained whimperings that they were trying to be quiet for my sake. But since the walls of the flat were made of little more than MDF board, it didn’t really make much difference so the audio painted a pretty unsightly picture in my head as I tried to sleep. Simon had told me that Kas shared an apartment with six other girls so this was probably going to be something I would have to put up with every weekend. I have never shared an apartment before and I knew there were certain things that I was going to have to get used to, but I hadn’t expected to be sharing with a couple. And I certainly hadn’t factored in listening to the sound of paunchy porn every weekend.

Moving in with Simon, I thought my apartment troubles would be resolved, but it wasn’t long before I was having second thoughts about our arrangement. And it wasn’t just the idea of listening to him shagging in the room next door. I actually I didn’t mind Kas being around, but she did seem to make herself at home a little too quickly for my liking. That first night when she stayed over, she spent the rest of the morning lounging on the sofa flicking through the TV channels in nothing more than a big t-shirt. This was to become a regular weekend event.

The place was only small, so once Simon and her were cuddled up on the couch, I was relegated to feeling out of place on the stool at the bar in the kitchenette. In the evenings, the pair of them would camp on the sofa eating pizza and watching box sets of her favourite American comedy series, How I Met Your Mother. Simon was playing out loves young dream and he seemed to be enjoying it. I wasn’t.

Simon also had some questionable attitudes toward general cleanliness around our living space.

From what I could tell, he had one pair of shoes, a pair of trousers, one suit, a couple of pairs of boxer shorts and two or three pairs of socks. During the first week he lived in the place, he somehow managed to hand wash his shirts, socks and boxer shorts in our little bathroom sink with nothing but water. Naturally, he had to regularly wash his underwear so he would leave it hanging out to dry on the balcony, which wasn’t too big, especially as the air conditioning outside unit was fixed to the wall out there too. Nevertheless, there was just enough space for a little table and chair so I could sit in the sun and take in the view of the pool, the rooftops of Tanjung Duren, and Simon’s underpants.

He also had a habit of leaving everything just where he left it. Food, crisp packets, cans, bottles, pizza boxes; he’d just consume and go like a slug. He’d never empty the bin – he hardly ever even put anything in the bin. When I mentioned this to him, he actually suggested that we get a maid. A maid! There wasn’t room enough to wave a duster around your head, but he wanted someone to come in every week just to put his bottles, cans and food wrappers away and take out the rubbish!

Simon wasn’t the most considerate flatmate either. He would use all the bottled water in the apartment – not just for drinking, but for shaving too – then he wouldn’t bother to get anymore; perhaps just a small bottle from the mini market downstairs if he really need it. However, it wasn’t just Simon’s slovenly habits that were the problem, the apartment itself wasn’t ideal for two sharing.

The apartments in Mediterania II were only allowed to have two air conditioning units, even the two bedroom ones like ours. Why? Well there was a limitation on the power allocation for each apartment apparently. Now, the air-conditioning unit in my room was ok, but the unit in the living room was useless. Even on its coldest 16-degree setting you had to leave it on for about an hour just to cool the room down a little. It didn’t really bother me because I’m not really a fan of air-con. Simon on the other hand liked that chilly, refrigerated freshness of ultra-cold air-conditioning when he was inside so he would leave it on permanently, even though it wasn’t really making any difference. This wasn’t so much of a problem during the day, but he wanted to leave it on throughout the night too because he had no air-con in his room, which with its sun facing window, was practically a sauna. He thought that some of the not-so-cool air in the living room would drift into his bedroom and cool it down, but it wasn’t working. With or without the air-con his room was an oven. A fan would have helped, but he said it would have given him a dry throat, which is probably true. But leaving the air-con on all day and night was just an expensive waste of electricity, so we got in touch with Vivi to see what she could do.

Vivi’s solution to the problem was to get a workman in to drill a big hole in the wall between our bedrooms and install an extractor fan to suck the cool air from my room into Simon’s room. This meant that I would have to have the air conditioning on all night in my room whilst listening to the noise of the extractor fan sucking the cool air into Simon’s room. This simply wasn’t going to work. Not just because of my dislike of extreme air-conditioning, but also because of the noise that came from the extractor fan. I just couldn’t sleep through that racket. So the situation was that either Simon wasn’t going to sleep because of the heat or I wasn’t going to sleep because of the air-con and noise from the extractor fan.

The other big issue in the apartment was the internet; it just didn’t work. Simon spent a significant part of his day sending and replying to emails, which was vital to his job. Having no internet was a big problem for him. And even when he bought a portable 4G Bolt unit, that didn’t work too well either. Apparently, this problem was to do with the building and the location itself rather than the internet connection. But what it meant was that Simon had to go to his office or find a wifi connection in a café somewhere whenever he had to communicate with clients, which was every day. Moving around Jakarta is not easy and this constant moving around just wasn’t working for him.

One of the enduring qualities of human beings is that we learn to adapt to any environment. Deep down I knew that the issues with the apartment in Mediterania II weren’t going to resolve themselves, but I just didn’t want to think about it. I’d had enough of stressing about where I was going to live and everything else and I just wanted a breather. A few weeks just concentrating on enjoying this temporary new life I had in Jakarta. The new apartment had a fantastic pool area, I could walk to work in less than ten minutes and there were plenty of places to eat nearby. My bed was really comfortable too. I was relatively happy and I wanted to keep that feeling, even if it was just for a short time. But deep down I just knew it wasn’t going to last long. Usually in those kind of situations, things get worse before they become completely untenable.


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