As we decided on our weekend plans, an Indonesian colleague invited us over to his house to lend out his bicycles. I have been in Perth for a week on an on-site project; he has been here for a year or so on an expatriate assignment.
We jumped into a bus riding away from the tense business district to residential Belmont – a serene milieu of concrete and brick houses with solar panel hats in low-rise heights. A few steps from our stop brought us to the pale yet warm facade of his humble abode. Cheery giggles echoed from two little boys as we walked into the porch – probably giddy that their father has come home. The eldest son welcomed us in. As the door widened, the second son looked at his father’s mates with a timid smile. With an elegant black cloth embracing the mellow expression on her face, the boys’ mother greeted us while snuggling the youngest son in her arms.
“Ervita prepared snacks for you. Of course we can’t let you go without having Indonesian delicacies,” Imu said. The bakso was still in the pot on the kitchen stove – freshly cooked halal meatballs, drifting in appetizing broth and eager to join the vermicelli in our bowls. Dried onions and garlic were waiting on the table, ready to top our meal with more piquancy. “We’re lucky to have bought bakso from the grocery. It’s not always available,” our host grinned with satisfaction as he shared more about their curious cuisine.
“I’m going to Indonesia in May,” I suddenly uttered, “Bali, and Borobudur in Yogyakarta.” “You’re going to enjoy it!” he affirms both the locations and season to my delight. “There will be a lot of Australians having a vacation for sure. It’s cheaper to travel to Indonesia than to another Australian state.”
I picked up a piece of samosa – or so I thought. It was martabak; the crunchy and salty kind filled with vegetables and tastes that blend well with the zesty bakso. After I savored the fried delicacy, I was tempted to drink the last drop of flavorful soup straight from the bowl. But knowing little about Indonesian culture, I did my best to spoon out the last bit of broth instead.
“I’d like to keep you here longer, but I’m worried that the dark catches up with you while you’re on the road.” Imu escorted us to his garage and sent us off on our borrowed bikes. As we pedaled our way back to the CBD along with the falling leaves of Australian April, thrilling thoughts of a sun-kissed May trip frolicked in my mind – perhaps I’ll learn more about Australia in Indonesia.