visions of jakarta

LAST NIGHT was the book launch for Linnéa’s new book, Visions of Jakarta. I was late to the event, which took place in a university auditorium. There were rows and rows of readers awaiting Linnéa, who walked in and stood at the front and began to lecture about her days spent in Indonesia. Then she gestured to the ceiling and it began to rain inside the auditorium. Warm, tropical rain splashed down on the attendees, on their hair, hands, and books. Visions of Jakarta! “Tonight, I decided to share with you some Jakarta rain,” Linnéa said. After the launch, Linnéa came up to me and embraced me. “Please tell me you’re not leaving yet,” she said. “Come with me tonight to Riisipere! We leave at once.” Riisipere was an unusual name, though I was sure I had heard of it before. Riis (rice) pere (family). Rice family? Come with me to Rice Family? We leave at once? Some preliminary research revealed that it was the site of a ruined manor house that had once belonged to key Baltic German lords, Master Peter von Stackelberg among them. The night after the Visions of Jakarta launch I went out again with Linnéa. This evolved into a brutal pub crawl, and cisterns of wine and liquor were consumed. It all got to be a bit much, so I decided to take a plane back to Tallinn. We flew with Captain Sven, who brought us up and over Saint Petersburg to reduce altitude ahead of approach and landing. I could see all of Petersburg’s white houses and white ships and blinking lights. It looked like a fairytale winter city. Then Captain Sven brought the plane lower and flew beneath the Kronstadt Bridge, which terrified me, before setting down on a landing strip somewhere in a field in Püünsi. We were all safe but it was a rough landing and some of our belongings fell into the sea. I was happy to swim and retrieve them. When I got to town, Linnéa was already there with her yellow hair and fun smile waiting with an autographed copy of Visions of Jakarta and a freshly uncorked bottle of wine.

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