Paying Attention to the Details of Space (Day 14)

There is something about being unwell that makes you think of home. I was in Saudi after I graduated from undergrad for a month long study trip, and after the first week I was nearly in tears because I hadn’t managed to speak to my family. Four years later I’ve grown in the sense I don’t experience homesicknesses in the same way, but if it were possible, it would be amazing to jet home for an hour, breathe the air and come back. (My big toe is also very red and swollen from an awful bite, so in general though still enthusiastic, my desire to explore is low today).

After having breakfast at seven in the morning, I’ve been asleep for the past several hours trying to recover from a cold that sprung after a visit to a very cool, but very polluted gallery space 2 days ago. I spent yesterday (Sunday) resting at the hotel, and after another calm day today God willing I should be back in action soon(I can’t bear the fever, running nose and cough combo for too much longer!) So many members of our group have been unwell recently, but I’ve been ok, but I think this latest visit was too much for my lungs to handle. The rest of the group left this morning for a trip to Borobudur and Yogyakarta for about five days, but I decided to stay here in Bandung to explore a bit more. So thankfully I’m not missing any scheduled site visits, though it is a bit strange being on my own, and I’d like to venture out soon.

And my apologies for not having blogged for the past few days! My draft folder is filled with long unfinished entries, but the more I have to process, the harder it is for me to write, and the past few days have been so rich that I’m still struggling to make sense of everything we’ve seen and experienced in the first week. When I’ve been sitting down to write, I’m not sure what to start with first, the visit to the rice paddies we did a few days ago where we found a tiny one room masjid (mosque) near one of the rice paddies, the visit to a slum/creative village, where it seemed all the children of the village came out to see us and we were treated to an impromptu musical performance (featuring instruments like empty water coolers and other household items) the ambivalent attitude that so many people we’re meeting have towards religion, the number of questions I get (as opposed to the other members of our group) about what country I’m from and my religious practice, the speaker we met at the metropolitan board we met who broke down crying when speaking to us about how the urban poor in Bandung cannot meet their transportation costs and women end up entering prostitution, the list goes on and on of things that I’m thinking about and processing.

 One of the things I was thinking about this morning as everyone was leaving though, was the spatial design of living space. Each room of this hotel is different, and in the room that I share with one of the girls on the trip, we have a little foyer that has heavy curtains so that those outside cannot see in, sliding doors you can pull out to separate the foyer from the rest of the room, and then curtains which you then pull out over the sliding door so that those in the foyer and outside cannot see you. It’s a very private, segregated space, and I love it.

This morning the group assembled at 6:30 am to catch their train, and several people were planning on dropping off their luggage to our room so that they didn’t have to cart everything around while they were away. I ended up getting up so I could join everyone for breakfast, but while I was sleeping, because of our sliding door/curtains combination, people entered our foyer and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t wearing my scarf. This clear demarcation between public and private space is  wonderful culturally sensitive, inclusive room design, and something to think about as planners when we design spaces (such as recreational spaces for instance). Who is using a space, and what sort of privacy needs and usage needs they may have, should impact the way we structure space.
More later hopefully. And hopefully this cold and bites will sort themselves out soon!

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