Saturday, July 17, 2004

My Retirement Place

My Retirement Place

Another bomb exploded the other day in Bandung, on Jalan Braga. I'm quite familiar with the Jalan Braga area because it is near the old part of Bandung town center where I had spent many happy weekends wandering around. Jalan Braga used to be the upmarket shopping area for the Dutch during Bandung's golden years of the 1920s.

These days, it has become more of a red light district at night--with karaokes and pubs that are swarmed with Sundanese hookers. But during the day, Jalan Braga looks quite pleasant: one can still see haunted remnants of the old Dutch shops--spacious, ornate and echoey with history. One of my favourite is a bakery and ice-cream parlour where I could sit quietly for hours in a corner, sipping my coffee, reading my book and writing in my journal.

Walk down south along Jalan Braga, you will reach Jalan Asia Afrika. This road used to be called the Grote Postweg--the Great Postal Road--a thousand kilometer long highway constructed by the Dutch, stretching across the Java island from West to East. There are also at least three historical buildings in the area--Gedung Merdeka, Hotel Savoy-Homann and Grand Preanger Hotel. The two hotels are the grand dames of Bandung--Art Deco architectural masterpieces that hark back to grander times.

I wrote about all these places in my Sukarno article for a local publication last year. The thought of my nights in Hotel Preanger, typing out the piece fills me with a bit of sadness and nostalgia. It is a pity that Bandung has become a den these days for terrorists like Azhari.

Even though Bandung is a paradise lost with worsening pollution and gridlocked traffic during the weekends, I still like to think of it as my retirement place. I dream of that day when I could finally disappear from civilization--like Azhari--to retreat into some hidden abode somewhere in the cool highlands of Parahyangan...

No comments: