In my last post about Indonesia, I wrote

Had I not been there, Jakarta would still have gone on, and the city wouldn’t have noticed. It was a one-way path – the city and country making a deep, intractable impression on me, but me leaving little impression on Jakarta.

It was a strong feeling throughout the summer. Jakarta was, by far, the most hectic city I’ve ever lived in, even more than NYC. Add in the fact that I barely spoke the language, I really felt oblivious. Like the city was always churning, moving, and I was just observing it from the shadows.

That’s not to say I was passive while there. I learned some Bahasa Indonesia, met several Couchsurfers, visited numerous Kehati sites, and explored the city. One of my favorite projects was forming a writing group through Couchsurfing. We met at my favorite local cafe, Anomali Kemang, which has coffee that is unparalleled in NYC. Every week for nearly two months, I met with a varying group of 3-8 other Couchsurfers, mostly Indonesian but we did have one Filipina regular, and wrote together.

However, the group seemed to have sputtering motivation, with small turnouts near the end. No one volunteered to keep it going. As I left Jakarta, I forgot about the group, and assumed that it had faded into oblivion…

Hence, my surprise when my Indonesian friend Felisia told me this in an email.

btw do you know that your writings meetups is being held again?

you’re a starter of something here hehe…

I couldn’t believe, and quickly went to the Jakarta CS group boards. It was true! The longest thread was for the continuation of the writing group I’d started back in June! In the first post –

Would like say Hi first to Nithin, where ever you are right now.
Thanks for hooking me up with Writers Club 🙂

Inez, who only came only once, is organizing the meetup. It’s turned into something greater than I could have imagined – with its own blog (Peoplesliceoflice), weekly themes, prizes, contests and rotating locations.

It turned out that I was wrong. Completely wrong. I didn’t just sit in the shadows of Jakarta, I did do something there that is lasting. A seed had been planted. My presence made a difference to some people there, maybe only a little, but some, just as they made a great influence on me.

The world works in mysterious ways. Maybe I was meant to be in Jakarta this summer for a reason.

Jakarta – keep on writing! I hope to make a meetup again, someday, someday.

Understand Asia


Nithin Coca's free bi-weekly round-ups & in-depth analysis of undercovered news, events and trends changing Asia.




You've signed up! Please check your email to confirm.