"The café-bar-restaurant on Jalan Kemang Raya rests like an elegant fish tank above the bookstore. It has large windows through which you can look down on lounging tukang parkir as they laugh and suck on their clove cigarettes. If you sit on the retro living room ensemble in the right place at the right time and look beyond the car park, you can watch all of Kemang creep by in one long neverending traffic jam. This is the story of the origin of that traffic jam; at a time in the distant past when the traffic used to roam free and a trip from Blok M to Jalan Kemang Selatan used to take ten minutes at most."
Excerpt from A Girl & a Guy in a Kijang in Kemang, a story in We Rose Up Slowly
A Girl & A Guy in a Kijang in Kemang is a story from my book, We Rose Up Slowly. The story was written in 2012 and published in Eastern Heathens (Ethos Books, 2013, edited by Ng Yi Sheng & Amanda Lee Koe).
A Girl & A Guy in a Kijang in Kemang:
- is based on the Javanese legend of Sangkuriang
- retells this tale in a contemporary setting based on the cafe above the bookshop, Casa Kemang, in Jakarta that my wife and I try to visit whenever we are in Jakarta
- is about a young man who serves a lady in a cafe in Kemang, they touch, and she flees. A connection is made and they find out a lot about each other in a Kijang in the cafe car park.
- Laramy Lee sees a critique of 'female entrapment in society' and an exploration of sexual taboos in his reading of the story in this wonderful review of Eastern Heathens in QLRS
- is also about suppressed memory, the hidden secret self and the perils of traffic
- includes passing references to tukang parkir, clove cigarettes, an Elektra coffee machine, bengkoang masks, Marjinal, anak punks, Akira, Anthony Burgess, pengamen, Iwan fals singing “Kamu Sudah Gila”, and Pekalongan batik.