I am a person that likes to be alone. Often.
Strangely enough, I’ve never, except for that brief month of bliss in Brussels, lived alone.
Indonesia is no exception. Except this time, we live AND work together. ALL DAY.
So I find myself seeking quiet, independence, peace. In a city of 23 million in a nation of 222 million, that can be hard to do.
Tonight I went to the hotel pool. Although when I left Brussels, the sun was setting at a leisurely 8:30pm, it’s dark here by 5:30, and then the storms begin. It’s still rainy season, after all.
Luckily, no one was at the pool. I had a view of the brilliant city, alive with lights, pulsing and noisy even after work hours. The pool was dimly lit and little birds, or bats, or something, were flitting among the trees and flowers that open only at night. I swam laps, watching the lightning, diffused by thick clouds, creating a soft flickering glow in the sky, like that of a candle. Then the call to prayer. I love the call to prayer. It starts slowly, one voice rising above the loud hum of an electric generator nearby…you almost don’t notice it at first. Then another, in another part of the city. Soon all the mosques are sending out their calls, harmonious, above the din. I don’t know how they do it, how they make themselves heard in such a raucus place…but they do. I quite like the idea that the sound of faith is always stronger than the sound of progress, and even the construction crews on the 37th floor of an unfinished highrise hear it and stop what they are doing for a few moments. I like that, for a few moments every day, there’s one thing that everybody does together, at the same time. In an age of increasing isolation and changing communities, moments like those are becoming rare. Even though I am not Muslim, the call reminds me, too, to stop, take a moment of peace, be thankful, say a few words to God, breathe deeply, and enjoy the moments of peace I can find in the middle of urban chaos.