We wake up at 2 a.m. on our first full day here. We try reading ourselves back to sleep, but it doesn't work. Then we watch a little TV. News in English, news in Indonesian, Islamic versions of the 700 club, music videos. We've just found an episode of the Simpsons when we manage to blow the fuse trying to plug in a power strip for the computers. By then it's almost light so we head out for breakfast.
I've prepared myself mentally for the smog and traffic, so they really don't seem that bad. The air appears cleaner than in Moscow, where my throat started burning and tears began running down my face the moment I stepped off the plane. Here my eyes and throat just itch a little.
What I forgot to brace myself for is the poverty: the shacks built out of scraps of wood, and the thin, tired faces you see on the street. People seem to sleep everywhere. A large, covered wheelbarrow hides one dreamer. When we stop into a French bakery for coffee, four people are sleeping on couches at the back of the room.
I feel overfed and conspicuously healthy. I don't know whether to look people in the eye or not, whether to smile. Besides the language barrier, there's a body language barrier. So much of yourself exists in relation to your surroundings. I feel like part of my hard drive has been wiped out, and the information will have to be replaced slowly and painstakingly over the next several months. Just observe, I think. Don't decide anything yet. Gather data. Try out small interactions. Be. The rest comes later.