this is the real life
As a child I used to go to Batam very often when I was about 10 as my parents had business partners there. I had many friends my age and they’d teach me games like their own version of Zero Point, and Indonesian folk songs. I remembered teaching them the game “Er Ling Wu” (spelling?).
Batam is the reason why I know more Bahasa Indonesia words than I should, like how chewing gum is “permen karet” and not “shinggam”; towel is “anduk” not “tuala”; fridge is “kulkas” not “peti sejuk”; and underwear is “kolor” not “seluar dalam”. I also remember jokes like “Who’s the actor who cannot run and cannot drive? Dunno, who? Rano Karno!”. Nevermind that I didn’t know who Rano Karno was, it was still funny and I still laughed.
I also remember climbing the cherry trees (Asian cherries are small, not like the plump Western ones), grabbing handfuls to be shared amongst the group. Batam was where running in the rain was de rigueur and no one would chide you for getting your clothes wet. Batam was also where I almost crashed into a car while cycling down a steep hill and while trying not be knocked down I almost fell off a cliff. Batam was where you could visit your neighbour’s house not through the front door but by climbing from each other’s roofs. That I spent part of my childhood in Batam is something I tend to forget, but now that I think about it, it was quite special.
I went back to Batam two weeks ago with the family. It is interesting to return to a place where you spent your childhood, as an adult. It makes me miss being a kid. It makes me think about my childhood friends. Sadly, I do not know where they are now. I don’t even remember their names anymore. I guess life gets in the way like that.