Kuala Lumpur: A Meeting After Eight Years


Bhumy first trip overseas, the boy excitement at 12.30 AM

I haven’t seen my ex-housemate, Bebe, after eight long years. Or even more. I just remember the first time he met his now-wife, Ili. The stormy process of their love and suddenly photos of their first daughter, Sidra. And when I had my own son, Bhumy, they had theirs, Atari. Then not long after, Bima. I saw all the process of their family through pictures, facebook and blogs.

Then suddenly we’re doing our own gardening in our own lawns, his in Selangor – Kuala Lumpur, mine in Nitiprayan – Yogyakarta. Skype chats suddenly involves the updates of our latest garden design and trying the latest experiment based on the permaculture principles. We share ideas and updates on our kids, daily in the social media.

Excitement came when the Yogyakarta – Kuala Lumpur new routes are getting as cheap as going to Jakarta or Denpasar. So it was decided that in the end of March, we will have our reunion. There is also an international street art festival happening in KL which we could see while we are there. I had to take care my son’s first passport and it is our first trip overseas together. Things went well, preparations was simple.

It was just the three hours flight delay that makes Ili and the boys pick us up in the airport at the most ungodly hours especially for the children. Somehow Bebe looks the same, accept with the very fact that he is a punk dad with the additional three kids. I remember Ili with the long hair, but nowadays she cut it short. I guess I agree with Bebe, that this trip felt like a dream, or a long wake after a dream. The long years that separate us seems make the distance feel far away and unreachable physically. But then, we are here. Me and Bhumy together.

Suddenly the trip to KL felt like a time machine. Suddenly we are all above thirty and our kids are already knocking as our next generations. Suddenly our interest met with our hope of the future: our children’s lives. We talk about raising kids, domestic issues, healthy food, recipes to cook, urban gardening, permaculture, our old friends, art scene in KL, politics in general (blah), sustainable living and basically the latest update on anything.

The next five days felt so short but it create something huge. Time always passes by. But moments are  eternal. Despite all this technology convenient mobility thing, meeting your old dear friends and family is always become the best thing that we always treasure.

UntitledOur first morning: Munching roti canai in the garden

Our kids play together, share foods and toys while us the parents sharing all the stories of our lives. I didn’t develop the interest to explore KL that much this time, accept more to seeing Bebe and Ili. While Bhumy joining the Gang Chaos: Sidra-Atari-Bima. We also have the trip together with the kids to the Padang Jawa: Street Art Festival. The children are excited to take the bus and train. Play on the streets and under the rain with the kids in Kampung Padang Jawa. It’s a refreshing side of KL. It is the other side of urbanisation never advertised in any tourism pamphlet on Malaysia. But things feel connected, the reality is real, our problems are familiar and our discussions are to search the solutions together.


Bhumy and Atari at Padang Jawa

UntitledThe boys practicing body surfing under the rain of Padang Jawa


Taking the bus trip with Gang Chaos


Bhumy being nice with the local kids


Sidra, the big sister :)


Sidra and Bebe in the garden after a moning rain

I somehow change my perspective on visiting Malaysia after this trip, the joyful trip to Kuala Lumpur this time really makes me to look forward for further of the many trips to the home of my dearest friends and their kids :) Miss you all!

yogyakarta: kampung dolanan (the village of toys) – pandes

traditional toys from pandes village, sewon, bantul – yogyakarta

do you remember how to make your own toys? i was born in the 1980s, my father still teach me how to make a boat or a little rolling car out of grapefruit skin and bamboo toothpick. i was born in the age where i still play traditional games at the streets and running around the abandoned land in my housing complex. climbing the mango trees at the backyard, throwing each other children mud-like rocks. one of my earliest memory of those “age to play” is putting my first paper boat in the river at the end of my street and try to watch whether it float back the same way. that particular river had a circular stream. my childhood memories are all in that greenness scene despite i grow up in a city, bogor, a 60 kilometer away from the capital of indonesia, jakarta.

things change in my housing complex. development come. they close the way to the river. they separate the kampung (village) and the housing estate. my place suddenly belong to the elite. i was 13 by then, all my childhood friends vanish into thin air. no more running around in the area. i felt the weird gut feeling every time i felt i saw one of them on my way home from school when i take the angkot (public transportation). i missed those days when we are just children and don’t care shit.

i guess those are the reason i choose to live in a kampung in jogja to raised bhumy. i would not say it’s an ideal place. but i do prefer my kid to live in a more natural surroundings. anyways, at the end of last semester, the kids in his school (MILAS playgroup) did an outing to one of the village in the southern part of yogyakarta, pandes village which famously called the kampung dolanan (the village of toys).

P1050095toy making workshop with si mbah

pandes is famous for their traditional toys maker. the whole village used to be a traditional toy maker. but now they are nearly vanishing, only 8 people left and all of them are women. the youngest of them all are the age of 80 and the oldest is 100 years old. amazing women and still actively selling these toys. they even stiil walked to the main market like beringharjo (which are quiet far) to sell their handmade toys for surviving their lives. they can make different 90 characters from the classic wayang tales, just by cutting them straight from a recycle cardboard and draw them. and i can’t believe that it is only IDR 1000 (what 10 cent USD?) per item. i raged for the prices. it’s way too cheap for whatever their skills and knowledge. this compare to all those shitty made in china toys.

P1050108bhumy and his handmade kipas (fan wheel)

pandes now become a center for learning how to make traditional toys. the youth there established a center where young children introduced to the wisdom of traditional games and how to make your own traditional toys. they documented all this traditional toys. they explain all the values of all this games with the consciousness that maybe in less than ten years all of this will disappear.

P1050121walking among the paddy field in pandes village



P1050139milas children all over the pond | bhumy and his friends playing around trying to find catfish | mud splash!



P1050137the bamboo showers | bhumy and his friends playing with the water | bhumy is loving the water

P1050140the view of pandes village

P1050149my favorite paper wayang collections (made from recycle cereal box)

although seeing the amazing things, people and the best time my son and his friends had in the village: playing traditional games, toy-making with the women elder toymaker, catching catfish in the pond near the paddy-field and bamboo showers. i can’t help myself to be saddened. that all of this richness of cultural experience would go away someday. it’s like seeing an old dear friend you can’t touch and that weird gut feeling is back.