It is the done thing here to have hired help. A friend once gave me some advice. She said to make use of the good stuff to make the bad stuff easier to deal with. It is so true. Day to day life here comes with so many challenges. Having some help gives you support for those times you really need it. For me, I didn’t need a full time yaya when we arrived, I’m not sure I need it now so I don’t have one. I do have a Maid who is part time and live-out and she helps with the children a bit. The live-in concept to me is becoming more acceptable the longer I am here, but I am still challenged with my Western Sensibilities and the small space in which we live. So I do everything with and for my children. This means the school run.
The school the children are currently in is 0.8km from where we live. Straight down the road. We are unable to walk for a few reasons. First the humidity and heat is too much for the little ones to walk distance in. Second there is a giant, scary intersection to cross. It is so crazy mad that even driving through it gets scary. Third, where we are located there are a few homeless people and very poor people so it is not really safe for us. We are prime pickings for mugging. Fourth reason, the sidewalks are just not kept in good order. Broken, cracked, gaping holes. Sometimes there doesn’t appear to even be a sidewalk. So we drive to school. Getting there is easy and usually takes ten minutes. Then after the kids are in class and kissed and cuddled good-bye my driver takes me through the Starbucks Drive-through at the end of the street. Then we have the commute home. This is the crazy part as there is no short and quick drive home. There is nowhere near where we live to cut across traffic so we have to do a big loop around to get back onto the other side of the C5, which is a major road. This means, with the congested traffic, that our school run takes approximately 80 minutes, generally 90. That is just for one run. Then I have to pick them up again. Essentially I have lost three hours out of my day so I can take the children to school.
I use my time in the car as best I can. I catch up on emails, Facebook, finalise appointments for the week. I message friends and I always take my iPad everywhere I go so that I can write. I am writing this now as we navigate our way back from the school. Old Christmas carols are playing on the radio and right now I am humming to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ which is one of my favourite songs. We have just driven past the worst car accident I have seen here, a car has rolled over, the ambulance is in attendance and about thirty people have come out of somewhere, to stand around and stare. On the other side of the road, a man is getting dressed, pulling up his jeans, doing up the fly, in full view of the world on this road. Random I know.
I wanted a picture that could capture what is a very major part of my every day in the week. I get my Starbucks without fail and it is totally associated with traffic. Never again in my life will I see a Starbucks cup and not think of traffic. Having one just makes the other that little more bearable. I don’t resent taking my children to school, and now I am just so used to this lifestyle that I shrug my shoulders when traffic is worse and it takes half an hour just to get to the kids school, that 0.8km down the road. You can guarantee that if going one direction is bad, the other way will be the same. There isn’t anything you can do except change your attitude and make the best of the situation. Thank goodness I don’t drive every day, I am very grateful to our amazing driver I-Bug who knows every road in this city.
You know what I do enjoy though? I enjoy the colour on the roads. Basically any kind of vehicle can be on the roads, no doors, crazy tyres, vans and trucks overloaded with people hanging off the sides, sitting on rooftops or dangling legs out the back with doors swinging open. Then of course there are the colourful jeepneys. There is always something interesting to look at.