29 January 2013

Rhythm and shake

It's hard to believe that we've been here for a month, but that's what the calender tells me.

Naomi's photos

We live between two mosques and when the call to prayer goes out, both of them compete with each other, mournful drones that fall in and out of harmony. At sundown, when the kids are getting ready for bed, I have begun to notice it every day. Allau akbar, Allah is great: I hear this, but I'm not sure if they're actually calling this out, or if it's just what I think I should hear. The kids splash around in the large plastic tub while the rest of the city, the Muslim majority, worships.

I love the call to prayer: I loved it in Istanbul, I love it here. I love how you stop and look up, and how it reminds you of the day cut into sections. Now it's the morning. Now it's noon. Now it's bedtime. The house we have is old and doesn't have any air-conditioning, so we have to keep everything open to encourage the breeze through. The outside air permeates everything in a way that it never did in Milton Keynes or the States. Here you don't seal yourself inside: you open everything up to let the outside in. You turn on the lights coming home and there are four or five geckos on your wall and you think, 'Please stay and eat all the insects.' I walked into the kitchen as I was writing this, and when I turned on the light, I heard something fall into the sink. I looked and there was a gecko: buggy, terrified eyes looking up at me as if to say, 'You just scared the shit out of me, man.'

Yoko and I were talking about inviting people out to visit. I said of one person, 'Do you think they could handle it?' and Yoko, after thinking for a moment, said, 'Do they like to camp?' Yes, it's sort of like camping in a lot of ways, but with the Internet and running water 95% of the time. And toilets. But the sense that the boundary between outside and inside, like when you camp, is less defined. You have to go outside to get to the toilet. The washing machine is outside. I don't think this is a common experience in all of KL, particularly in the newer, more built-up parts, but we aren't living there. Here, everything is older and more porous. Holes in the ceiling, the tattered seatbelt in the cab. Well worn, well used.

The weather for the last month has also had a strange predictable rhythm to it. The morning is normally clear and bright: I can walk to the station to catch my bus without breaking too much of a sweat. The midday is hot, and you find yourself avoiding going outside. Then around 3 or 4 it rains, and by 6 or 7 it's cleared up. This is generalising—over-generalising—but it feels that way.

We, all five of us, got caught in a downpour today, walking home from the market. The girls laughed and laughed, loving every minute of it. They have been amazing to watch: so open and willing to try whatever comes their way. Eat anything, talk to anyone. They stand at the gate of the house and call out to the neighbours as they walk by, 'Salamat pagi! Where are you going?'

At some point in the last month, we reached the tipping point where Kajang and our little house went from where we were staying to where we are living. We stopped talking about what we should or might do and started talking about what we are doing and what we are going to do. It feels good though: feels like we might actually make it off the ground here.
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