Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Have you bathed?

Two days ago we woke to find we had no running water in our room at the Hotel Karya. When we turned on the faucet, we got a little dribble that quickly tapered off to nothing.

Our shower is a humble affair – just a hand-held nozzle on a short hose. You have to contort yourself a bit to wash your hair. Still, a lack of water is a serious problem. People in Jakarta bathe often. I have yet to run into anyone smelly. In fact, “have you bathed?” is supposed to be an ordinary bit of chit-chat, along the lines of “how are you?” or “what’s up?” Thus, when you’re unwashed, you not only feel icky, but you feel like a pariah. You feel you’re doing a poor job of representing your country … your hemisphere, even.

Because it's so early in our stay, it seems emblematic of all the months ahead. “I’m going to be smelly for days,” I thought. “I will never be clean.”

We complained in the morning and again at noon. It’s no good getting annoyed or losing your temper, so we complained smilingly. We gritted our teeth and began making emergency plans in case it wasn’t fixed by nightfall.

Then, wondrously, the water came back on in the afternoon. I have never been so happy for a cold dribbly shower in my whole life. The next time I went out, I thanked the guy at the front desk.

“Ah, have you bathed?” he said with a little smile.

“I bathed,” I said blissfully, and walked out into the hot sun.


Mary K said...

I didn't bath yesterday because sometimes I like to re-live my days of being a dirty hippy. But, I was in Concord, NH where I can wear a hat and lots of clothes so no one really notices. At least they do not ask me whether I have bathed.
I am going to start sharing your blogs with Matthew when he comes for a visit this weekend.

jakers said...

just heard about these blogs you folks now i will constantly leave weird comments. all the best wishes that i can think of, and a few extra blank ones for you too, i love your writing style and observational sense, and really like to see the differences in chad's way of describing an event and yours. btw, all things considered just referred to ginseng as "manroot"...and aerin met a kid today at school whose last name was "manlove" the universe telling me something i'm too silly to get?

kopisusu2 said...

People ask a lot of questions here but mostly you don't have to answer them. They always ask "where are you going?" but you can just say "jalan-jalan" - "walking around." Or smile mysteriously and say nothing - my preferred alternative.

Yeah, lots of clothes - that doesn't work in Jakarta. I have to say I wasn't all that picky about personal hygiene when I lived in NH (as you may have noticed). But here, you really can't go a day without at least one shower. Two or three is better.

As for the manroot and manlove, we met a lawyer yesterday whose name is apparently Hotman. He was dripping with sparkly jewelry like a gangsta rapper. I believe he handles drug cases. If there's some connection, it's lost on me too.

The Editor said...

"Hotman" is the lawyer who defended Schapelle Corby (the Aussie girl who got 20 years for packing a 10lb bag of grass in her boogie board bag. And yes, he's quite a flashy chap.