Interstate 75

2010 was the year I started wondering why I never had many close friends.

I went to Sis S' apartment and consulted her.

"Bcoz you always move.... It's hard to keep up with friends when you move coz you don't do the same stuff anymore. That's why you shouldn't move [to North Carolina] anymore should just stay here!" she said.

Well yes, of course.

For almost my entire life, I have never stayed for more than two years in the same city or school. It was not that we are no longer good friends; it was just hard to be as close when you do not have much in common with them anymore.

Let me take Eddy as an example. He was an old friend from my primary school in South Jakarta, Indonesia. At that time, neither of us could think that we would actually find ourselves further apart.

We had the same taste in music (Sheila on 7), books (Enid Blyton's and Detective Conan), games (Chocobo, Tekken), but thank goodness not girls. He always had a crush on the smart girls while I preferred the pretty ones.

Then I moved to Bali.

We still make long-distance calls to each other once every two months or so (those were the days before Facebook or Friendster), but it was getting obvious that we no longer had much to talk about anymore. While in Jakarta we used to hang around to each other's houses and talk about crap from dawn to dusk, our Jakarta-Bali phonecalls were only limited to 10 minutes at maximum.

And when I was in Singapore, every contact stopped. I told him I was leaving the country, but that was basically it.

Until the day I found him on Friendster again. By that time, we were almost like complete strangers who know each other's childhood secrets. We had absolutely nothing in common.

Sucks, but Eddy was not my only example. I am sure I can write a more lengthy recount of what it was like to leave my friends in Bali when I left Bali forever.

So I learn from my experience.

I had to admit that leaving Indonesia in 2009 was one of the heaviest decisions I had ever made in my life. It was bold, rash, and heavy. I had become very much attached to my Indonesian kins, friends, culture and lifestyle that it was hard for me to leave them there.

Then I realised that it was probably the last time I could ever enjoy some of their company. Because even if I do return to Indonesia, things would never be the same anymore.

Which was the reason why I became overindulgent during my very last weeks there...the stuff of which sometimes made me chuckle. that I have the choice to leave Kentucky, I have chosen not to. The people are some of the warmest and friendliest people I have ever met in the planet. And the girls...where else can you find prettier girls than Kentuckians (details of which I would save for another post)?

Kentucky is still kinda cold though...hence to purchase a condominium or a house, I would still opt for the East coast states such as North Carolina or Virginia.

But as for today, I'm loving Kentucky!


College life as I see it

Varsity colours...seeing the college cheerleading squad...clapping for the campus basketball the girl from English 102 class... My college life?

Not at all.

In fact, I was so mesmerised by such an idealised notion of what a "college life" is supposed to look like. Now I am completely dumbfounded when I found's actually not as pretty as I thought it would be.

Being in a small two-year college with virtually not plenty of academic clout in the state (except for the Tri-state region of Kentucky-Ohio-Indiana), there is not much to boast here.

In fact, I am quite bored already. I started my first week in classes expecting to see and learn new things...things that are supposed to be challenging and fun.

But nah, it's kinda lacklustre.


Amish people

A conventionally well-dressed kind of lady in her 20s came to the counter demanding assistance. After she was helped and walked away, I called a co-worker.

"Dude", I remarked, "That lady looks just as if she comes out of a Jane Austen book"

By well-dressed, I really mean conservatively covered up in an Victorian style of fashion. Nobody, absolutely nobody dresses up like that in America these days (except for Halloween).

an approximate image of what the customer's attire looked like. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Oh, she's probably Amish", Rob answered.

"Really? We have Amish in Kentucky?"

I've always thought that the Amish are confined to the New England region of Massachusetts or Pennsylvania.

"As a matter of fact we do. There are two towns I know of which are Amish"

"So they don't use electricity or telephones there?"

"Well certain Amish people nowadays use the phone in case of emergency, and most have used electricity too. But it's kinda interesting though to see how most of them still resisted the more recent technological advances of cellphones or computers"

"Yea. That's fetching"


Jungle Jim

"Malaysia stole Sabah from our country", our Filipina friend told us during a lunch in China City restaurant.

"I know", Mom agreed. "We share your grief"

While Mom is referring to the classic age-old spat between neighbouring Asian countries of Indonesia and Malaysia over Batik, Reog dance, or any traditional songs, as an American I could as well refer to the Malaysian flag...which curiously looks a tad too similar to the flag of my country.

Earlier versions of this US flag was adopted in 1777.

Malaysian flag, adopted almost 200 years later in 1963.
Readers may decide for themselves who copied whom.

Speaking of Asian countries, every person I know in Northern Kentucky have told me at one time or the other about how the Jungle Jim have a section entirely dedicated to Indonesian groceries, so we decided to check it out. Jungle Jim is an "internationalized" version of Wal-Mart, in which is carried food from the whole globe.

Since it is (inconveniently) located 35 miles away to the north taking the Interstate I-75, I declined to drive. I wanted Mom to drive there instead.

If there are two conditions in which I am unable to drive the car, it's going thru the interstate or under heavy snow. Trucks in America are always intimidatingly huge and the interstate itself has three to four different lanes for each way that driving in it is always more of a drudgery.

After learning the hard lesson of almost getting lost as far as Grant County after the drive back from the last New Year's countdown in Cincinnati, I decided to print a full, detailed driving directions off Google Map from our apartment toward Fairfield. A bit excessive, I know, but for us, anything north of Cincinnati, Ohio is uncharted territory. Especially if you don't own a GPS.

So when we got there, it turned out that JJ did not actually have an Indonesian section. JJ did have a Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, and Malaysian grocery section dedicated to themselves.

Frustrated, I looked at the Malaysian section anyway. And there were they, Indonesian spices and paraphernalia such as the Relaxa candy or Astor wafer or Bango soy sauce nestled in the very edge of the Malaysian shelf.

Kerupuk Udang (Shrimp crackers) are somehow priced a bit steep $9.00 for a bag of raw, uncooked crackers; so we decided not to purchase that.

But the Indonesian soy sauce? Mmm hmmm, I miss that!

If there is one part of Indonesian cuisine that I could never find the closest equivalent to, it is the Indonesian sweet soy sauce.

To substitute sambal kacang, you could always mix ground peanuts and a bit of hot sauce.

To substitute Martabak, you could always opt for the local City Barbeque's corn bread (though I have to admit that Indonesian Martabak tastes a million times better).

To substitute most Indonesian crackers, there are a vast variety of Tortilla chips, starting from super hot habanero-spiced ones to the regular ranch or cheese-flavoured (the medium spicy tortilla tastes oddly similar to Keripik singkong pedas, by the way).

But Americans, Japanese, Europeans, or the rest of the world thereof do not have any close equivalent to...Kecap.


Shoyu, Worcestershire, oyster, or any Kikkomans do not even add up in terms of getting half as close to the mollases-thick, sweet, and creamy dark Indonesian soy sauce of Kecap manis.

Hence we purchased quite a large quantity of it, thinking that our venture up north the interstate would not be an oft-made travel, citing reasons of saving the car fuel.


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