Perfume Story: August 2012 Archives

August 2012 Archives

A female writer in Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia's population was about 23,800,000 in 2010. It is the fourth most populous country in the world. Its land area is 1,910,440 square kilometers, 16th in the world. Moreover, Indonesia's water territory is 3,200,000 square kilometers, almost twice as large as its land. Indonesian water territory, spanning 5,100 kilometers, is larger than the United States.

My first impression of the capital Jakarta was terrible traffic jams. The worst three cities from my experience were Cairo, Moscow, and Sao Paulo, but Jakarta was probably just as bad as those.
People in Jakarta were almost resigned to the fact that they spend one third of their day in bed, one third at work, and one third driving. Sales of cars and motorcycles are doing extremely well. Since owning cars indicate wealthy status in Indonesia, people still drive just despite of heavy traffic. Since motorcycles can drive between cars, the heavier the traffic becomes, the higher motorcycle sales become. As a result, there were 890,000 sales of new cars in 2011, up 17% from the previous year. Motorcycle sales became more than 8,000,000. Both sales marks were the highest on record. Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Suzuki established factories in Indonesia, increasing production there.

Therefore, it was difficult to schedule even two interviews in Jakarta. It was past 20:30 when I finally arrived at the home of a female writer. Her house was located in a residential neighborhood in South Jakarta, not far from the center of Jakarta. In fact, the address was so confusing that the driver had to leave the car many times to ask for directions. After driving all over the neighborhood, we finally arrived at a large house. Doormen were playing cards, staying away from the heat outside.

A writer lives by herself with a maid in her house, about 750 square meters in size. As I entered the gate, a turtle design there caught my interest. Interestingly, walking on the stone-paved path to the entrance, I saw four more turtle ornaments outside, as well as a pair of a mother turtle and a baby turtle inside.

image120824_01.png I conducted an interview in an office next to the entrance, where a picture of turtles hung on the wall. The writer explained that her turtle ornaments weighed one ton each. She owned many of them since turtles are considered good luck because they are strong and good-natured, and symbolize long life.

image120824_02.png image120824_03.png

She said she could not show me the inside of her house due to an ongoing renovation. She was dressed in a black t-shirt and pants. I asked if she was also a singer, since her t-shirt had the caption "SOPRANO" on it. She said, smiling, that it was given to her by her friend who was a soprano singer. I guessed the writer might be a part Arabian, that West Sumatra beauty.

She uses perfumes every day and in fact, she changes them in the morning, afternoon and evening. She cannot imagine life without them. She owns so many perfumes as well as shoes; she cannot possibly wear them all. She prefers foreign perfumes, especially French brands, and does not use domestic products. Her most favorite is the Chanel No. 5. She dislikes Estée Lauder and Nina Ricci. When she received a gift of 14 perfumes of Estée Lauder for her birthday, she returned them to the shop and got a refund. She said with a smile that in general, she is very picky.

She mainly buys perfumes at duty-free shops. When she does not travel overseas, she asks her friends to buy them for her. Besides duty-free shops, she buys them in bulk at the BODY SHOP since their prices are reasonable. She disposes the perfume bottles after their use. Though some of them have good design, she does not want to keep too many empty bottles. She has been using perfumes since she was 10 years old because her mother and sisters used them frequently.

image120824_04.pngShe thinks wearing perfume is just like wearing clothes. It's very natural for her, like a part of her own body. She even places her maid's perfume next to hers in the bathroom.

When she travels for five-day-trips, she carries two kinds of perfumes in miniature bottles. She wishes there were aerosol-type miniature bottles. She asked me to request these bottle types from the manufacturers.

Once she likes the perfume she is using, she keeps wearing it until it's gone. For example, if she is using four kinds of perfumes, she finishes all of them before she uses new ones. The scent she likes most is vanilla; she also loves vanilla ice cream. She likes roses but she does not like them for perfumes. She dislikes strong scents like Arabian perfumes. She said, with a smile, that I could probably tell what kind of personality she had.

She currently writes books for living, though her writing was initially a hobby. She handed me her published book, titled "CINTAKU LEWAT Kripik Blado", which translates to " My Loving Tapioca Chili Sauce" in English. Her picture was printed on the back cover and on the bookmark.

She gave me another book, listing profiles of eight hundred Indonesian writers. This listing confirmed that she was a professional and successful writer. Her profile said in Indonesian that she was born in 1958 and graduated from Jakarta University with a major in literature. After writing articles for magazines, she started writing short stories and published one in 2009 and 2010, and two in 2012.

She owns about 3,000 books, mostly literature. I am a little surprised to find out that she did not know who Haruki Murakami was, one of the most well-known Japanese writers. Unfortunately, I learned that his works are not translated into Indonesian. I went to a local bookstore the next day and confirmed that they did not sell them.

She has met Japan's prime minister while she was staying at the Imperial Hotel with her grandfather, who then worked for the Japanese embassy. Her most striking memory of Tokyo was when she ran into a drunken woman making rockets in Akihabara.

Before she wrote books, she was a newspaper journalist, and had the opportunity to meet governors and congressmen for interviews. That's the reason why she willingly accepted my interview. It was 22:30 when we finished our interview. On the way back to the hotel, the traffic was finally light at this time. However when I arrived at a hotel, it was past 23:00 and I realized that I missed my dinner. Though it was a tough work in Jakarta, I had the delightful memory of having conversation with a Jakartan beauty.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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