What does your workplace look like?
I’m the kind of person who needs energy from the sun. I particularly love the morning sun. I had my house
built with a bit of an open space in the center, so that all the rooms can get natural light. This isn’t very common in Indonesia. Now I’ve heard that some traditional societies in East Asia have a name for it: the sun well. The concept is to have
a source of energy from the sky and the earth channeling throughout the house.
Many houses in Indonesia are very closed. This practice probably dates from the time of living in the tropics when nature was still grew without limits. Most houses were
places to sleep and shelter. Other activities took place outdoors, like working in the fields, fishing in the ocean, drying rice in the sun, and playing under the moonlight. And also toileting on the river. Nowadays, the majority of the population lives in
the cities. The cities have become very crowded. There are not many public parks in Jakarta. So sad. The lifestyle has changed, but the city can’t cope with it. I need to bring a bit of greenery into my private space. My desk faces the small patch of
open space at the center of my house.
What do you need for your creative process?
I just need a place where there is sunlight during the day, or where I can see the sky and the moon at night (if I’m lucky). I need a private
corner that will keep me in close connection with nature and with my society; because that’s what I mostly write about. I’ve never felt that I needed to isolate myself in a quiet villa in the mountains or by the shore. Those places are nice, but
probably I would not be able to write there. I’m not very interested in opportunities for a writing fellowship program that will distance me from my country.
What do you listen to when you write?
I never play music when
I write. My house is fairly open. Music would only compete with the soundscape. I hear different voices that fade in and out: children's laughter, jingles of the ice cream man or the bread seller, street musicians singing dangdut or Javanese songs, the reciting
of the Quran or the call to prayer from nearby mosques. The singing of birds, some of them free, others caged.
How do you cope with mosquitos and the humid weather in an open workplace?
First by accepting that I live in a tropical
land. There will always be problems of humidity and mosquitos. Heat, humidity, and mosquito infestations don’t happen throughout the year. In a year, probably there are a total of thirty days when mosquitos aggressively swarm. On those days I smear cajuput
oil on my skin, and I can write despite while using the "mosquitos racket". There are also very hot days. Then I wear short cotton clothes and take showers more often. I try not to depend on air-conditioning. We sleep with the windows open and we use mosquito
netting. It’s sad that most Indonesians nowadays have forgotten the value of mosquito netting—they prefer to use chemical repellent.