Menteng Dalam 40 Years Ago



Pak David, the dark had come when I was done with my interview, and it was drizzling when I was leaving Yul’s house. There are street lamps, also lamps from the terrace, but the street still rather dim. I decided to take a walk to Mrs. Fermina house. Yul said that Ibu Fer’s house is not so far from his house. I only need to take a left turn after Obama’s house, passing through an alley, and I will find Persada Raya Street.

But I took the other road. It was passing by Obama’s house a bit and after taking a left turn, I go forward. Two hundred meter then, there was an intersection and I took another left. I assumed that if Mrs. Fermina house was only a block away from Obama’s and if I follow the road, it would lead me to that house. But I got lost. When I kept continue walking, I found Yurnaldi’s house again. Lucky me, he already close the door and his curtain so he didn’t see me passing his house for the second time.

I only got lost less than ten minutes walk but it didn’t bother me. What I want to tell you is that there are many alleys in every road. Some alleys are only less than one meters wide, so if you meet somebody from other directions, you both have to pivot and tilt a bit so that both of you can pass. No street lamps at the alleys. You just count on the lights from the houses. And it was ground alley kinds, no pavement or cement, got muddy when raining just like the night when I was waking there—I had to go for pedicure to clean my toe nails the next day.

And when it is dinner time, I can smell what they cook while I pass the alleys. I also saw some street vendors selling nasi goreng, somay, and sate, using carts. When they stopped to serve the buyers, and fried all the recipes, you can smell fragrance. It  smells so good. Tempting the neighbors to buy as well. The houses in Menteng Dalam are 150 meter square at the average, compared to the houses in Taman Amir Hamzah with 500 meter square at  average.

I can imagine if 40 years ago Menteng Dalam was a leafy-shady kampong and not so crowded like nowadays, how happy Obama and his friends were at that time. They were free to run on the streets and gardens, play hide and seek, and no need to be afraid about vehicles passing by. Even many of the houses don’t have fences—including Yunaldi’s house. And if they pass the alleys, they can smell any kind of fried meals or dishes from the kitchen. As you might know, Indonesian people have a lot of spices and various kinds of special materials/ingredients for cooking.


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