Jakarta, A City of Routine

Living in Jakarta as a kid and a young adult are two very different things. For a know-nothing-better kid, I was quite a busy one. Spending almost every evening thinking about how to extend my curfew, my seemingly important goal was to take a part in another round of hide-and-seek games with my friends in the park. It’s actually pretty funny to reflect on how discovering a secret hole behind the bushes was all that mattered back then.

Several years have passed since then. As a striving-for-the-future young adult, I’m starting to grasp the concept of how the world actually works. For some of us, life turns out to be a series of routine we know better than our own palm lines. “What is life without some impromptu things to enjoy?” I often say. But then, I still wake up at 6 every day, do my morning walk before heading off to work, deal with the city’s constant traffic alongside hundred of other metropolitans, and with that goes the scraps of my energy to do anything else at night. I'm left with no other choice but to go home and sleep.

So, here is my question: are we still the same person without the routine that shapes us daily? Without putting Taylor Swift’s songs on shuffle as I make myself presentable, the short stroll around the nearest mini-market to resolve which bread to buy for breakfast, the beam of sunlight creating a shadow in the shape of me one step behind, or the dilemma of what to order for lunch even when it’s still as early as 10 o’clock, my life will surely be less organized. It may sound a bit far-fetched but I feel like I can no longer picture myself sustaining a week without a routine to hold on to.

It’s not until I felt a little unwell yesterday that my mind started to wander around this issue. The idea of taking a day off and doing nothing in the small room that me and my sister rented seemed like a brake that made me instantly feel better. Without the routine to keep my pace steady, I wasn’t sure what the world had to offer suddenly. This totally juxtaposes how I was as a kid. The only obligation I had to comply with was an afternoon nap (which might sound so heavenly now but long ago it was not). Having a sacred time for a few-hours siesta was the reason why I used to despise it with a passion. Dammit.

Some pictures I took on my morning stroll

I’m not sure what is it about having a routine that is so comforting now. Knowing with confidence where to stride probably? Or the familiar feeling with your surrounding: the soft morning sunlight and hanging tropical leaves through the length of your path to the office? It is a pleasure to get recognized just by your footsteps like having it known as a part of your tagmaybe the same charm is what we're searching for in a routine: to know and be known as a certain part of something in this big universe.

Or in my case, in a big city called Jakarta.

Ah, the city of routine. The city of possibilities. Maybe one day I’ll flood this blog with something more to your taste: a backpacking journey or some traveling experiences. But for now, Jakarta is all I have. My alone time treading the pavement I have carefully memorized makes me realize something: I want to make the best out of it. The impulse to capture the simplest moment surfaces as I now know where precisely the most riveting story takes place. There may be something immutable about having a routine that makes it feel almost boring, but I believe there are some beauty in it if you know just where to look.