Last week, I had traveled to Bandung and Jakarta in Indonesia for a conference on Innovation in Developing countries.It was good presenting a paper at a conference after a gap, especially when I am currently working in applied research as in consulting and not academic research anymore. Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung was cute and the smallest I had been to ever as we got off the plane and walked on the tarmac to the arrivals building. Silk Air did not bring my bag from Bombay on time from the flight from Singapore where i had a hurried transit. I got my first ever on arrival visa at Indonesia. Today is Indonesia Merdeka Day- Dirghayu Indonesia Raya! There were two welcome staff at the arrivals who dropped me off at our conference hotel- The Grand Royal Pangehar. I went to my room, ordered a Chicken Sirloin Steak and slept off my jet lag. I was woken up by the organizers that i missed the pre conference tour bus, but the contact person Prof. Bayu from ITB was gracious enough to arrange for a car to personally escort me to Angklung workshop- a Javanese Bamboo Instrument Orchestra and a sumptuous Javanese Buffet with delicious ayam, gado gado and rendang. Lovely evening i must admit.
Unfortunately, i had contracted fever that evening and given the fact that i was in the same pair of jeans and shirt for 48 hours didnt help my case, but my bag arrived from the airport to my hotel. I registered for my conference, changed into fresh clothes booked a hotel car to Jakarta and Back for a meeting with some senior executives at the firm that i work for. The seven hour trip to and fro to downtown Jakarta was the highlight of my trip as Bandung Jakarta Expressway remanded me of the Mumbai Pune Expressway or even the taxi ride from KLIA to Suria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The drive through the hills and the tropical greenery was spectacular but the tin roofed hutments had a rural feel to it.
Bandung is a charming University Town with the trappings of the Islamic World and the amenities of the Western culture. The streets are dotted with motorbikes, street side eateries selling Tahu Ikis or Tofu based snacks. I could see signages of a prominent Indian Influences with words such as (building called) ‘Kartika Chandra’ and Jalan or Street ‘Adhityawarman’ sharing space with Islamic Preachers on Billboards during the Holy Month of Ramadhan.
The interactions with other co-participants from the conference from Japan, Russia, Taiwan to Saskatchewan in Nothern Canada to Mexico was a refreshing experience from the daily grind from Vashi to Saki Naka ( and some good pan India travel i must add) within Mumbai. I have made good friends with whom i shared Kopio and a pint of Bintang, which was not too bad over some relaxing live piano performances at the hotel lounge.
The best conversations are when four folks from four continents have a meal. That is the highlight of any experience to be had. Travel expands the horizons of the mind like no other and Bandung and Jakarta did me a good deal of good in this respect. Wishing my Indo friends- Indonesia Raya and I hope to be back there soon Insha-Allah.