First trip to Desa Jalupang

Eight of my batch—including me—went to Jalupang yesterday, representing the other thirteen, to “survey” the area as well as find a place to stay (and negotiate the renting price, too) later in the fourteen of January.

Desa Jalupang in Subang is where I and 20 other students is going to stay for a month for KKN. And, despite the awfully long trip, the place doesn’t seem so bad.

Initially we were faced with problems regarding transport and how many people would go to survey, but with the kind help of Lia’s mom and dad we got ourselves a car but with the cost of the people surveying being cut to only eight people. Everybody agreed so we went on our way.

(Thankfully, though, the university will be responsible for our departure from Bandung later—but unfortunately not to Bandung, meaning we have to find our own way home when KKN ends in February!)

It was a two hour-plus drive from Bandung to Jalupang but unlike driving from Bandung to Jakarta, not only it takes less than two hours in a smooth circumstances, but also one does not have to go through a narrow two-way road (e.g., you have to make way for an oncoming car despite being “two-way”) stretching tens of kilometers ahead. We had an unfortunate navigation problem that caused us to lose forty minutes, though, but the rest of the trip was fine.

Jalupang is located in Kalijati. Kalijati itself is an area reserved for the planting of rubber trees. From afar we could see empty plots of lands (the greenest of land I’ve ever seen) and as we drove through the curvy narrow road—and slowing down when we were passing an oncoming car—the lands on each sides of the road gradually turned into plots of short, young trees planted in neat rows before eventually turning into big, matured ones. I noticed many had their barks cut spirally around the trunk with a small white bowl attached to its side to extract the rubber.

The trees then faded into small houses. One of us asked Are we here? and just then I realized we have arrived in Jalupang. I got off the car and the air felt a bit too warm; I can’t complain since this would be the air that I would breathe for a month. We were greeted by the village secretary in Jalupang’s village office at about eleven in the morning. He told us that the village chief was still on the way, so were asked to wait in the main room of the office for him. We waited awkwardly. I saw a collage of old, fading pictures of the village decorated one side of the wall. A collection of commemorative plaques decorated the top of a grey file cabinet; one of them was from Unpad. One of us asked the village secretary about the previous visits of KKN and we were told Unpad had been to Jalupang a couple of times in the past.

A few minutes later, a short man in black pencak silat outfit came. I wouldn’t have guessed that he was the village chief if he hadn’t introduced himself as one. But who knows what power—or perhaps, “power”—he has. He made a short speech about the profile of Jalupang and occasionally interrupted with phone calls which he responded in a loud, shout-like voice. He apologized for the phone calls and then took us to a tour of the two options of houses in which we can stay for a month in January–February.

The first house was a large, two-story house owned by the village chief’s brother. He said that the house had always been unoccupied and the neighbors occasionally came in to watch TV and hang out.1 The kitchen was in the back and it was practically bare-bones with no cooking utensils whatsoever. The second floor was practically empty but was very dirty and the wooden-plank covered floor was dusty. The house was pretty decent and, in contrast with the surrounding houses, was quite big. Later we would ask the village chief to help clean up the house before our next, longer visit.

The second house was located near an intersection. It also big but we decided not to stay there for security reasons: there was a warung in which the villagers drink and gamble next to the house. We’d rather not get ourselves involved with them.

We went back to the village office to make our choice. We negotiated the renting price with the village chief. We settled for one million and fifty-thousand rupiahs, electricity cost included—meaning fifty thousand rupiahs per person: not so bad. Before we left, we discussed what things to bring for our one-month stay while munching away plump, fresh rambutans the nice staff had harvested for us. We thanked the village chief for everything and went our way home.

Considering the circumstances I have a feeling that this KKN wouldn’t be as “painful” as I thought it would. The people I’ll be spending a month with seem nice (although I only met a few of them) and the location doesn’t seem so bad either. But thirty days being away from home in a village with eighteen people I’ve never met before is clearly a new experience for me. And it will definitely test the heck out of my psychological and physical skills due to the heavy social activities I will be involved in. I wonder what it will make me.

I guess I’ll find out later in January–February.


1. [The houses in most villages are not as neatly organized as they are in the cities; they are arranged rather randomly and every house are almost “stuck” to one another. The village chief permits the people to stay in this particular house maybe to keep the house occupied.]

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The case of bloated phone bill: the follow up

I’m having such a rough time now.

The bloated phone bill is now two months overdue and my mom is very likely to be required to pay regardless. Of course she wouldn’t want to pay that much. Hell, she wouldn’t be able to.

She expects me to pay for it.

My initial response to that was denial. I was outraged. I told my mom how the carrier deceive me as a customer by not notifying me when my Internet quota has run dry and sucking the hell out of the money I don’t have—without my knowing. I told her about the sick business the carrier practices, ripping off unaware customers. I blamed the carrier for the lack of customer care.

But no matter how right I felt was, no matter how convinced I was about the evilness of the phone carrier, that’s the ugly truth. Awful but true. Nothing could change the fact that that’s how the business is run. Nor the fact that the bill has to be paid. Otherwise the carrier has to go for the hard way: debt collector. Obviously nobody wanted that.

The total bill has come to more than 1.6 million rupiahs. I can pay for it in any form—leaves, rocks, dust, books—except money.

This comes as a total wake-up call for me. You have been a damn spoiled kid! How many more years will you live by leeching off your mother? Now you know the real taste of life. Yeah, I’m still an immature twenty years old boy who hasn’t yet to face the real life, yet to pay for my own bills. But that’s another matter belonging in another post.

As a temporary relief I might trade my current smartphone into an Internetless normal phone—a dumbphone—and use the rest of the money to pay for the phone bill. Ironic isn’t it, selling the phone to pay for its bill? I’m not sure what will happen to my life after that.

I hadn’t contacted my girlfriend at all because of this while in fact I should have because we planned on doing class assignment together. She’s gotta be really mad. Sorry, dear, I’ll make up.

The case of bloated phone bill (3/3)

Long story short, after at least four phone calls my mother and I made to Provider X, Provider X kept either repeating the same explanation over and over again or giving out another complaint ticket—which adds up to at least four complaint tickets as of the time of writing—, none of which clarifies what happened or gives solution.

The last call had my mother outraged: she threatened Provider X be reported to newspapers, said thank you and hung up before the call center guy even finished saying ‘you’re welcome’ (get it? The call center guy didn’t even try to keep the call on the line!).

Patience is up and I’m going to the customer service center soon and see what response they have.

Reflection on: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’ve never been a big fan of overly hyped books so I kind of shrugged when, out of sheer curiosity, I got my hands on Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I didn’t expect it to be this engaging.

It starts a little bit slow with the first few chapters providing a background knowledge on the plot. But I felt at times there are too many information to process in my brain that I only started grasping what is this and what is that later in the middle of the story (especially the quite complicated Vanger lineage).

But then when the plot begins to develop—in the fourth/fifth chapter—it’s really an engaging read! Just when I was about to put the book down a secret are revealed, one after another that I need to force myself to take a break from reading it on each end of the chapters.

If I were to sum up the whole book into one sentence, it would be: “revenge is sweet”.

On KKN

There’s a course in the campus called KKN, an abbreviation of Kuliah Kerja Nyata. I have no idea what it’s called in English but it requires all students to go to rural areas in the province and stay for a month to “integrate with the society” and solve the problems that they may have according to the student’s capacity. It’s a required course worth 3 credits. The students are divided into a big group of twenty people who come from the many faculties in the university.

I’m going to a village in Subang with 21 others (luckily I’ve got three mates from my faculty!).

I shudder to think what kind of “integration with the society” I can contribute. Even the word “society” scares me. I can’t imagine waking up in the morning to do some “society integration” work for thirty days straight with people I barely know! Not that I’m lazy or anything, I’m just not sure with the dealing with all the people… and society.

Moreover, the rural areas have their own local customs which are, of course, good in the perspective of cultural studies, but I fear that there may be some things that I do everyday that is perhaps a violation of their norm without my knowing it, leading to gossips that go beneath my nose. Here’s hoping they don’t practice black magic there!

UPDATE (December 18, 2012)
Apparently KKN’s objective is to “learn from society,” so I infer that the mere observation on what the people in Subang do (I’m sent to a village called Jalupang in Subang) is enough. Students are also required to find alternative solutions to problems that the village may have. Hmm… observing and coming up with ideas, that doesn’t seem so bad!