Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Seven years ago

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programmings to bring you this sappy and nostalgic non sequitur:

The year was 2004. The morning was always misty. The air was patently cold. There was no need to take a bath daily. Or weekly, for that matter.

Yang membuat Pak Hardja melempar lelucon kalau pintar saya ada di daki tiap kali ada yang berkomentar tentang hasil olimpiade saya.

Us five boys slept at the back room of the pannekoek house, accessible only from the back door. The archway between middle room where Rizky slept and our bedroom was barred with the help of two cupboards. The front room with the tables and sofa is where we play cards. We played mostly rummikub, 41, 51, and go fish. I remember at one point Mas Gabriel taught us how to play trump over the table in the reading room. I had not learned how to play 24, my favorite card game, at that time.  I remembered we once played the equivalent of Mafia game. We did not repeat that.

I remembered the I got the upper bunk on the window side of the wall. Agung got the other upper bunk. Jaya and Evan were on the lower bunk. Hartono's bed was on the far side.

If I remember correctly, Agung inadvertently destroyed the ladder to the upper bunk on one of our last days there. Or was it me?

I remember bringing my first ever cell phone there, a then-brand new Nokia 3530. The color of the casing was blue. Hartono's phone was a Nokia 3310. Agung's was an odd-looking samsung with an external antenna.

I downloaded a prince of Persia game on my Nokia and it was a reliable time-waster whenever I wait for the next turn in the badminton court. We played badminton with borrowed rackets and nets. We got those from Mas Irfan.

The third time I was there, I got a new phone. A SonyEricsson K500i. I got that mostly because everybody else that I knew was obsessed with the latest Nokia line up. I just had to be different. At Sevastopol, I almost got my phone switched with a k700i. But this phone would be stolen at my first year in ITB.

I remembered being really into Muse's Butterfly and Hurricane. One particular song. I have no idea why.

My bedtime reading that I bring from home was a version of Shakespeare's A Comedy of Error and A Tale of Two Cities. I don't remember what they're about. What I do remember is that the book was a present from my sister.

"Congratulations for finally going abroad!" she wrote on the inside cover. It didn't really feel real, going abroad for the first time and the destination was a former Soviet country. So foreign.

There were lots of other reading materials at the observatory's reading room--National Geographic magazines, New Scientist, Science, Scientific American. There was also that one time I found a stash of old Newsweek from Clinton era and even older bound Newsweek from 1970s.

Only on rare days we actually review what we learned in class--those days mostly coincides with D-1 of the twice weekly performance review tests. On other days we were either playing cards, doing nothing, or watching Evan trying to crack mathematic olympiad-type practice test. Needless to say, they were unintelligible for me.

I remember having a class with Bu Nana, in which she told us stories about cosmology. She concluded the session with a provoking question, one that implied how insignificant earth and mankind in particular in view of the vastness of the universe. Afterward, I sent a text message to one of my friends saying that the class made me think just exactly that, our being is insignificant. He replied that I am always thinking, it came as no surprise for him. I began to understand why scientists built ivory tower at the first place.

I think the only things we observed using the antique Zeiss telescope inside the dome were a gibbous Venus in one early morning with Mas Irfan, and the double star of Alpha Centauri. That dawn session to watch Venus was a gigantic pain in the arse, though. We were sound asleep and was woken up at three am, away from the nice warm bed with plenty of blankets to embrace the coldest hour there was in Lembang.

I remember Jaya had a scope. But the scope was dwarfed (rightly) by the Bamberg and Zeiss. Even when compared to the Unitron with its early twentieth century tracking mechanism, it seemed like a mere toy.

At Frankfurt, I was outraged by the price they displayed for a simple sandwich. Four euro? Four euro? I could have eaten to death back home with that.

Our flight from Frankfurt to Kiev was delayed, leaving the team leader worrying we might not make the connection to Sevastopol. But we made it anyway and thus began ten days of gastronomical torture: the tasteless food of Europe as tasted by a boy raised in rich diet of sambel.

But I ate everything anyway, of course.

And if anything, the menu made me develop a taste for fruit yoghurt. While a glass of apple juice will forever reminds me of the Singapore-Frankfurt flight.

Our hotel in Simeiz was a decrepit piece of lodging, most probably erected when Soviet Union was in its full glory. The building had an elevator that wasn't quite working and made us resort to the staircase. Our room was on the fifth floor. It's like they know I would be spending the next four years climbing stairs to the fourth floor in Labtek III building in ITB.

It was located less then five minutes away from the waterfront, you can see the Black Sea from the front porch. This being a late summer/early autumn, we didn't see many tourists around. Not that the waterfront was a sandy beach anyway, it was more of a long sea wall with railings.

On our return, I was the only one not having anyone picking me up at Soekarno Hatta. Well aware I landed past the last train from Gambir to Jogja and having no cash to buy a plane ticket to jogja even if a flight was available, I think I was that close to breaking down. That surely would've made a very anticlimactic end of journey. Thankfully for my dignity, Mom was able to cobble an arrangement for me to spend the night at my aunt's.

For what it's worth, I was only feeling relief that somebody's target for our contingent was fulfilled. I couldn't care less who got what priz--well maybe I care a bit.

At any rate, it was a journey to be treasured. Forever.


ninitninit said...

This post is a bit different, melancholic and quite personal. Waiting for you to write something about romance :')lho......


Masyhur said...

Nit, I wrote melancholic things all the time in my other blogs at posterous yang tentu saja tidak bisa melulu diumbar-umbar ke mana-mana (karena pake nama-nama asli)(but access available upon request).

ninitninit said...

see what you did there? Now that you mentioned that, you have to give me access to your posterous.