Friday, April 23, 2004

My Lonely Nights in Bandung

My Lonely Nights in Bandung

Everyone was looking nervously at the gathering clouds in the sky today. Some of my friends who live a distance away from the city have already prepared a change of clothes and toiletries, in case, they get trapped by the traffic again like what happened on Wednesday. Friday traffic is typically worse than usual, even on a normal day here in Jakarta. I always have problems getting cabs on Fridays. And when it starts pouring heavily, all the ingredients of a perfect storm are there.

Yesterday I was finally able to read my 2000 word article, "Sukarno's Bandung" which was published in the March issue of Jakarta Kini. The hotel people managed to find a copy from their store for me. I was pleasantly surprised that the editors left every word I wrote intact but was a bit disappointed that they didn't pick the best shots from the many hi-res photos of Bandung that I submitted to them.

Instead, they published a picture of the Parahyangan Highlands which I snapped with a very high-shutter speed on a moving train, through a rain-streaked window. It didn't turn out that bad in glossy print though--in some way, maybe it did capture the cool-green mystique of the Parahyangan hills.

Researching for the article was a lot of hardwork. I had to read up a few account of Sukarno's life, Ibu Inggit's biography, historical documents about the Asian-African conference held in Bandung in 1955, and countless articles about Bung Karno in Indonesian. The challenge was to squeeze every interesting fact I had into 2000 words without making it sound too dry and academic for a glossy expatriate magazine. Now, having completed my tribute to Sukarno and Bandung, I can finally put these irrational obsessions of mine to rest--at least for a while.

I think I am guilty of not posting any of my pictures on my blog. Well, I'll try to put this feature length article together with my unpublished pictures on my website someday--another item on my long list of to-dos. And not forgeting the other one that was published last year: "Pramoedya's Jakarta"--about Jakarta in the 1950, as seen through Pramoedya Ananta Toer's collection of short stories, "Tales from Djakarta".

Now that I'm spending most of my time in KL, I don't think I can find the inspiration nor the inclination to write more feature-length articles. For my Sukarno/Bandung article, I checked into the historical Grand Hotel Preanger in Bandung (which Sukarno himself had a hand in designing during his early days as an architect) for 3 nights to complete my research and to finish up my writing.

No matter what I told people, no one believed that I spent the three days and nights visiting prisons and graves all over romantic Bandung--also known as the Paris of Java. People thought that I took leave to snuggle up with some nubile Sundanese damsel there. Sigh, maybe I have my priorities all wrong...

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