Day 6 (10/1/12)
Something Like Thaa…..!!!
7AM. We wake up.
Vishu: I think we need to withdraw some cash.
Sruti: Yes, I’m broke too.
Vishu: Ok, I think I’ll go get a million?
Sruti: Yeah, sound about right. For now.
Hopefully this conversation seems as surreal to you as it did to us. If it didn’t, you probably don’t know that the Indonesian currency is ridiculously cheap. A can of coke costs 15,000 rupaiah, renting a bike for a day costs 50,000 rupaiah and a decent meal at a good restaurant about 100,000 rupaiah. So relatively speaking a million really isn’t that much. But it was one of the strangest conversations we’ve had and couldn’t believe we had just said that to each other! That’s the start of our normal day for you.
The morning just flew by as we prepared to bike down to Mataram, which is about 25kms from Senggigi where we were staying, to meet Raluca, our new Romanian friend. She’s a student at the University in Mataram, studying Bahasa Indonesia (the official Indonesian “bhasha”) and training to be a diving instructor in her free time. She’s been living in Indonesia for the past 3 years, so we thought we’d put her considerable knowledge of the local terrain to the test and see if we couldn’t finally get a good Indonesian meal.
The drive to Matram was interesting. At one point, we were tearing down the wrong side of a one-way road, much to the consternation of the locals. A polite Indonesian man drew us a nice little map which he assured us, if we followed, would get us to our destination, without pissing off anymore of the locals. Vishu found his way with the help of the map, but I ended up asking the locals for the directions. I must have asked about 10 people or so by the time I finally reached the museum. I somehow felt it was better that way, and honestly, I suck at directions!
We had decided to meet Raluca at 2 pm in front of a museum in Mataram, but we arrived an hour early. So we decided to check out the museum. Like most other museums, it was pretty dead. As soon as we entered, we were welcomed by a humongous croc waiting to attack us! Bad jokes aside, this museum was only rivaled by the dodo as to how dead it was. Actually, me and Vishu are quiet the lovers of history, but this place had an aura of boredom that is surpassed only by Telugu serials! :) There were two other people in there when we went in. But they had the good sense to get out of there quickly, unlike the two of us, who actually spent the next half hour politely reading boring little tidbits about ancient Indonesian life and culture and staring at their strange little artifacts and thingumabobs.
Raluca did us a favor and arrived earlier than expected when we told her that we had reached already. She took us to an amazing warung (street side restaurant) which had some of the best Indonesian food we’ve enjoyed so far! I actually finished my plate for the first time on the trip. :) We then went to her place where she said she had a surprise for us, which she wanted a little help with. She wanted to make masala chai and had got all the ingredients ready. She just wanted us to tell her the secret recipe for masala chai that all Indians are obviously born with. We had no such recipe on us and we informed her that we had actually never even tasted masala chai in our lives! That should teach her to try and surprise us eh? ;) We were such bad representatives of our country. We were the kind of Indians who had never tasted Masala Chai, ate french fries and pizzas and sucked at Math! :)
At about 4 or so, we left for Raluca’s university where she introduced us to her friends. We went to a little shed kinda thing on the campus which was their hang-out place. Her friends were a bunch of musicians who played various instruments and reminded us of the gang from Rang de Basanti! Most of them don’t speak much English, but like almost everyone else in Indonesia, they were delighted to learn that we were from India and hoped that we would say hi to Sharukh Khan for them. They also played some bollywood songs for us which they seemed to enjoy a lot more than we did.
From there we drove down to Kuta Lombok, a beach resort on the south coast of the island where some of Raluca’s friends were playing live in a cafe. The drive to Kuta was about and 1 and a half hour and it was amazing. When we reached Kuta, we dropped our bags at the cafe and went to explore the famous Kuta beach! It was a beautiful beach with a lot of rocky structures on the beach as well as in the water. It had hardly any waves. Coming from a person who enjoys the wildness of the Bay of Bengal, the Kuta beach was a little too mellow but very soothing. Another interesting thing we didn’t notice was the large number of dogs loitering around the place. If it wasn’t for the Aussie “Lee” lady we had met the previous day, who had mentioned the dogs we wouldn’t have noticed. I suppose it’s one of those things that only Westerners notice!
Raluca again took us to dinner at a great local warung and we were soon back at the cafe to enjoy the band playing. The guitarist kept saying that they were Lombok’s finest musicians, but I think they might have even had a case for being Indonesia’s best. They switched between slick covers of famous English songs and popular Indonesian numbers and the rare original composition with panache. And the guitarist was absolutely BRILLANT! There was something the vocalist would say after every song, “Something like tha..!” and everyone would laugh, clap and cheer for that! Raluca says, she still hasn’t figured out why they said it or what it means! It’s a mystery! But we suspect it’s a translation of some funny expression in their local language. The best part wasn’t the band playing for the people, but it comes after the show! They simply played for themselves, from their hearts out of their love for the music and not for the money. Now that was music! Everyone simply gathered around in a circle, and for some reason there were two sweet Finnish guys that where in the group now! No clue how they ended up in the circle, but they were Finnish, so… go figure! There was spontaneity, fun, lots of laughter, and brilliant music. It was a melodious ending for a poetic day!
By the time, we left the cafe, it was pretty late, so the roads were pretty much empty. We went on our bikes down to Mataram again, picked up my bike from the university campus, said our good-byes, and drove back to Senggigi. It was only us on the roads, so we could tear down the deserted roads at a (safe) speed that was actually fun! :) Another amazing ride!
We were musically enriched, excited by the night drive and absolutely exhausted! So we literally did this - opened the room door, dropped our bags, crashed on the bed and slept like logs! Not a bad day, eh? :)