Everyone than can, leaves Jakarta in summer, for a week, a month or for good.
Arriving in Ireland from Jakarta is like, well it’s like arriving in Ireland from Indonesia. The doors of the plane fling open in Dublin Airport and the fresh air envelopes us. Glorious sunshine just about to break through as the last few stubborn clouds that hang hesitantly while we step from the plane looking at everything with all the awe of a first time visitor. Home at last.
The first few days back in Ireland for summer is always like spending a spell in a decompression chamber. All the things that were never afforded a second thought before, suddenly are a source of jaw dropping wonderment, clean footpaths and roads, plastic wheelie bins neatly lined up in a row, fresh 99’s in Centra, no begging (generally), country villages that look like scenes from LEGOLAND as you drive through, fresh food in the supermarket, service stations that have everything from an air pump to a deli counter, live concerts, current affairs programmes, admission free non-rat infested playgrounds, 2 for 1 offers on favourite summer fruits, bottles of new world plonk for eight euro and a selection of Irish farmhouse cheese for only two euro each. Ah it’s good to be home.
Days number 4, 5 & 6 usually involves a shift, the lacquer begins to dull a bit and suddenly the line of wheelie bins that looked orderly four days ago, are now beginning to become an eyesore. For the price of cone in the local supermarket, you could get a chicken in Indonesia, sometimes fresh. You realise that everybody else in the estate is getting their rent paid by social welfare and the rent you paid for a two month ‘holiday’ at home would be enough to stay in the Sheraton in Phuket for a fortnight. The thoughts of having just one sunny day, where you could bring the kids to be the beach becomes an obsession and even if the day was nice, you’d have to drive through at least three bottlenecks to get there. The cost to fill your car with petrol surely warrants an attendant or at very least the fancy paper dispenser to be filled once in a while. Every current affair programme on in the past week has been about a jaded country and western based performer who is holding fast on five nights instead of three, natch, as all the profit is in the additional two nights, after he ships his guitar, amp and other bits and pieces over. The playgrounds which used to be dedicated children only zones, not have as many Rovers and Sheps, as they have Ruairi’s and Sorcha’s as it seems in a few short years the Irish have gone as dog-mad as the English. Friends have dwindled over the years and if it wasn’t for the mound of unopened post to keep you company, you’d be sipping your Sauv Blanc alone. But at least you’re home.
By day 7, there’s no shine left and no wine, (the carrier only hold 6 bottles). Fresh air is all very well but you can’t live on it. Grocery shopping in Ireland has driven the nation to Aldi which five years ago, was frowned upon but nowadays even people I know go there all the time, that’s not a shift, its a U-turn! The monthly rent being charged on a box-like two-up one-down townhouse is nothing short of blatant robbery. A household rubbish disposal system that needs a sorting area. Petrol prices are scandalous, teenagers complain, ‘there’s nowhere to go’, adults complain, ‘even if there was it would be too expensive to get there’. And when you find yourself spending nearly half of your phone credit trying to get through to Cork County Council about dogs in the park you realise that yes, you’ve arrived, you’re sucked in. Grocery prices, complaints about trying to dry clothes, incorrect usage of roundabouts, price of the plastic bag, 2 for 1 offers when you only want one punnet of strawberries and if everyone is denying their love of Garth Brooks, who bought the 400,000 tickets? Good to be home?