Well, this is my first published english-written article in newspaper. Thanks to my friend Maro who helped me a lot and urged me to write this story.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post, April 15 2008. The online version can be read on this link http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/04/15/in-search-perfect-039kost039-jakarta.html
So, please enjoy this light story 🙂
Tue, 04/15/2008 11:37 AM | City
Leaving home and seeking employment in the capital is tough. For me, however, it is much harder to find a rumah kost, or boarding house.
It’s like finding your groom-to-be, who, according to Javanese belief, has to meet three requirements: comes from a good family, has a good attitude and is either smart or has financial security, although both are preferable.
During my search for a place to stay in Jakarta, I also had to take other things into consideration, including the house owner’s background, other tenants’ attitude, offered facilities and, of course, the price of the room.
Since this is Jakarta we are talking about, being close to your place of work is obviously the number-one requirement.
Furthermore, I also wanted my boarding house to be presentable enough to show to my friends and relatives and comfortable enough to imbue me with security and warmth. Now do you see the similarities between a boarding house and a spouse?
Like I said, it’s not easy to find.
Once I got accepted to work for a major electronics company in the capital, I immediately contacted some friends who were living there and asked them to find me a boarding house.
I set the rules and I went through the details: no fussy owner, no curfew, female-only tenants, fully furnished plus an air conditioner, housemaid, laundry service included, an en-suit bathroom, located close to work and cheap.
Such a boarding room, according to my friends, would cost Rp 2 million (US$210) per month, while my budget was between Rp 700,000 and Rp 1 million.
“Oh come on, be sensible! Look, if it were in Bekasi (Jakarta’s satellite town), I bet you’d find lots that fit the bill, but this is Sudirman (close to the central business district) we’re talking about,” my friend said.
Was I being insensible, or maybe just optimistic? Immediately upon arrival in Jakarta, I went to the areas known as boarding house hubs in Central Jakarta, including Karet and Bendungan Hilir. I literally went door to door, examining the rooms’ conditions, and comparing one with another. I spent hours going around, and the results were the same. None were good and cheap, only good and expensive or poor and cheap.
There was one for only Rp 500,000 per month, but the 2-by-3 meters room had no air-con nor even a window. Sue me for being picky.
I was left with two choices: lower my standards or stay somewhere other than a boarding house. The second option was impossible since the next morning would be my first day working and I had nowhere to put my luggage or take a bath.
I had no other option but to lower my standards, and there ended my search for my “soulmate”. In Bendungan Hilir, for a Rp 1.1 million room, 3-by-3 meters, air-con, a bed, a table, a closet, laundry, housemaid, and only a 15 minute commute to work, including a walk and a trip on the Kopaja 19, a public bus.
A good enough “soulmate”, though I have to admit it was quite expensive. At least I wouldn’t have to spend too much time on Jakarta’s roads, leaving me with enough free time to find my human soulmate.
Now we’ve finally arrived at the last stage of this ‘new relationship’ thing: Getting your parent’s blessing. As I had expected, my parents did not instantly approve of my choice.
“Daisy dear, I think the room is too small, what if one of your cousins wanted to stay over?” my mother said.
“I don’t like your housemates honey, they smoke too much, it won’t be good for you,” my father said.
And then came the magic words: “We think you can do much better than this.”
As if I were defending a less-than-favorite boyfriend, I replied: “I appreciate your opinion, but please try to understand that I am an adult now and, at the moment I have chosen this because it is the best I can find. I want to be independent and stick to my choice.”
And my parents just rolled their eyes, as if saying, “OK dear, don’t say that we didn’t warn you.”
So here I am, trying to stay committed to my choice, at least for now, and trying to make the best out of what I have, no matter how often I complain about my “soulmate”, no matter how many “I TOLD YOU SO”s I hear. Wish me luck.
— Daisy Natalia Awondatu