Sunday, September 9, 2012

The House with the Question Mark

Jalan Raden Patah (the old Pahud de Mortagnes Laan), is located in a quiet, mainly residential, neighbourhood, shaded by large trees.  I am ecstatic to find that Number 12 is a bungalow with art deco features, set back from the road with a porch at the front and a garage to the side – just as it would have been all those years ago!  A middle aged security guard, small in stature and dark-skinned, emerges from his Sunday slumber and approaches us, eyeing my enthusiasm with a mixture of suspicion and humour, clearly not understanding anything I am saying. 
He is put at ease by an introduction, carried out politely in the Sundanese way, which helps us to gently edge towards the questions we have come here to ask and an invitation to pass through the gate to have a look around.
The front door is open with a small sign that says “Line n Lite Living Gallery” where visitors are invited to “turn your space into place”.   This small shop, selling arts and crafts for the home, is not unlike the kind of small boutique you might find wandering around the shaded, tree-lined streets of Shanghai’s French Concession.   Lamps with clean lines, simple wooden furniture and soft furnishings made of natural fabrics with delicate designs are placed around the front room of the house.  A wooden shelf lining the back wall holds various one-off painted ceramic pieces, modern yet rustic and beautifully designed.  The young shop owner, who is in his twenties and speaks relatively good English, shows me an assortment of restored Polaroid cameras, also for sale.  All of the objects sit comfortably inside this room and in this house, an eclectic collection of modern tastes as well as a recollection of the past.
Other rooms, I am told, have been turned into offices, including the garage.  During the week, the seating area at the front of the house, shaded by a bamboo structure, is apparently lively with young people taking a break from their work.

At the end of the garden at the back, a modern extension with 10-12 clean and well-maintained KOST rooms (similar to bedsits) have been added.

It seems that every useable space in and around this house is being used.  The area has been altered accordingly, but without changing the structure and main features.

Pak Eddy (Mr Eddy), the by now ever-smiling security guard, gives us his mobile number and says that he will sms us when the owner is around. 
I expect the landlord will be unable to give me any information about the occupants back in 1942/3,  but a tour of the other rooms would be interesting at worst and perhaps even insightful.
In any case, I am content that we may have come one small step further to locating my family and following their movements in wartime Bandung.  I have one more piece of the jigsaw in my hand – I just need to know where exactly to place it. 

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