Thoughts documented from a recent angkot (mini-van, popular form of public transportation) ride to Surabaya from my village:
It’s Monday morning, barely 7am. There are 14 of us, strangers, sitting together quite snug. The smell of gasoline permeates the air. I am in the back, in my least favorite seat, smooshed up against the back window. The lady next to me insisted I sit there. The intense body heat of a plump woman to the left of me is making this ride all the more… balmy. Why am I wearing my mother’s down vest? The woman to my left has an old rice bag overflowing with bean sprouts. The smells reminds me of Tan-A, an Asian grocery store back home. There’s some suspicious dried goo that’s on the verge of touching my pants that I just picked up from the laundry lady last night. I try my best to avoid it touching my leg. A woman across from me in a civil servant uniform coughs several times. She doesn’t cover her mouth and Cody’s voice interrupts my psyche “TB TB TB” (referring to the high chances of being exposed to tuberculosis in enclosed spaces). Hundreds of motorcycles rush by, dangerously weaving between the traffic. While losing count of the lumberyards we pass, I daydream. Some of those trees sitting in the yard must be over 350 years old, I wonder if they’re the victims of illegal logging somewhere in Kalimantan or Sumatra. East Java is too populated. I wonder how many woman use birth control and how effective it is. There’s so many babies everywhere! I wonder why most buildings only have windows in the front and not on the sides. My butt has officially lost all feeling. ‘KIRI!’ An old woman, who appears much older than her actual years hops out. She confidently balances a sack of vegetables on top of her head and shuffles along to her next destination. Bean-sprout woman scoots over to the vacant space. My left thigh is sweaty. The sun’s been up for less than two hours and I yearn for another bucket bath. I have to pee. A mosquito catches my eye. I pray that the mosquitoes of Dawar have claimed me as theirs meaning no other mosquitoes can get me. The shocks of this angkot like most are near to non-existant. Each bump in the road exaggerates my urge to pee. My head bobbles uncontrollably, it hits the window several times. Ouch. I’m not the only one. Why are sounds that express pain universal? Elementary aged-children grip tightly to their mothers waists on motorcycles as they head to school. Eau de roti goreng (fried bread) wafts by. I’m hungry. We’ve hit Surabaya traffic. My nostril hairs are burning from the unavoidable gasoline fumes. I pull up the neckline of my shirt over my nose. The young girl sitting across from me is shamelessly checking herself out in the reflection of her handphone.