The Electronic Daughter


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January 23rd 2006
Published: January 23rd 2006
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Decorative Communication TowerDecorative Communication TowerDecorative Communication Tower

How 'bout throwing some more antennas up there? Where are you T-Mobile?
I've been feeling the distance lately. Not only am I twelve time zones apart from home, I am apparently living in a black hole. The phone network has become unbelievably more unreliable lately, so much so, that my work has installed CB radios in all our houses and cars for emergencies. In addition, as I discovered when trying to book a flight to Vietnam, it takes two days to get anywhere from here - one day (two flights) to get to a regional Indonesian airport, then another flight to get to an international airport where you'll be able to make connections to Earth.

How do people survive like this?? Magically, even though you can't get a phone call through, you can often send/receive text messages on your mobile phone. They call that SMS here ("text messaging" in the States) where you use the keypad to type text messages and send to each other. I know...seems totally inefficient to Americans, but SMS is used all around the world for business as much as personal since often it's the cheapest (or only) communication available. I think Indonesian hands, small and nimble, have specially evolved to take advantage of this service.

Of
Curious FacesCurious FacesCurious Faces

Part of the new world I am discovering here. I met this man at the market today. It's these random connections with people that makes life for me so interesting and unpredictable.
course, SMS'ing doesn't really help me out when trying to communicate with people back home. So the internet is my main mode of communication: email, Skype and this blog. Actually, I didn't expect this blog to be as useful as it has been - demystifying my life here and making it easier for friends to understand what it's like here for me. Thanks to everyone who keeps coming and reading and posting comments.

So, for a world that is getting increasingly "smaller," it still feels quite large to me. It's nice that my generation does not let borders define our world. But we also have a whole new set of challenges to deal with - partners with family in other parts of the world; work that keeps us on the move; friends that move just when you start to think of them like family. And I am one of them, grappling with those same issues. Wondering if it's still possible to be a "good daughter" even though I feel I'm becoming the "electronic daughter."




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New Place, New FriendsNew Place, New Friends
New Place, New Friends

Sunday motorbike ride with Goen. I am so very lucky to make new friends! A foot in this new life and a foot in the old.
Directions to Aceh from NYCDirections to Aceh from NYC
Directions to Aceh from NYC

Take the 14-hr. flight from Newark, NJ direct to Singapore. Take another 3hr flight to Jakarta. Change planes to fly another couple hours to Medan, capital of North Sumatra. Then one more flight to Banda Aceh. YEAH! 35hrs later...you arrive!
Do you copy?Do you copy?
Do you copy?

My driver, Khemal, radioing in our location. I'm trying to get my "handle" changed to "dancing disco diva" but it's not catching on.
SMSingSMSing
SMSing

Where I come from, we talk on our phones and type on the computer. Here, it's just the opposite. They send text messages on their mobile phones and use Skype to talk via the computer
You are looking at The Black HoleYou are looking at The Black Hole
You are looking at The Black Hole

AKA, my house. Not only do we not get cell phone reception, we can't really SMS either. The internet is pretty much the only way to communicate from here when network use is low - Sat, 2am. I'm trying to adjust my sleep pattern accordingly.
You are exactly where you think you areYou are exactly where you think you are
You are exactly where you think you are

I hosted a "typical" Italian Sunday dinner just like at home...making new bonds.


24th January 2006

italian sunday dinner?
hmmn where's the wine,pasta and connoli's? just kidding , but i bet not every one was trying to talk at the same time.
24th January 2006

Phone Call
I wish I could take that 35 hour flight to ride an elephant with you :) But I am thankful that we were able to talk. You are always in my thoughts!
25th January 2006

35 hrs...3hrs
Hi Steve, I'm on a dial-up connection. My guess is the govt. regulations prohibit other carriers from coming in. SoCo (is that the NY'er term for SC?) may not be as far as Aceh, but wherever you are, if you have to get on a plane to get home, it feels far. no matter if it's 3 hrs or 35 hrs.
25th January 2006

Directions to Aceh from NYC
Wow, that kind of journey requires the x-large size xanax (maybe two)! Oh, I can't help but notice that Goen is working a pretty cute smile (-: And you look great, disco diva, even in electronic form. Miss you much.
25th January 2006

Be in your area soon
Hi Erica, it looks like I will be somewhat near you (Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur) the week of Feb 27th. Not definate yet but that's the way it looks right now. You can always SMS Kim's and my phones!
26th January 2006

didn't mean to by anonymous
if you didn't guess, the xanax, goen, disco diva comment was me. still miss you much. but, if you didn't hear the news, i am taking your bed in mexico. and i am practicing my spanish....donde esta la zapataria? te quiero mas vino rojo, por favor (-:
26th January 2006

Unmistakenly Jill
yes jill - i knew you that comment must've been you. i really didn't have to think twice! your spanish is coming along nicely, although i think you've got all the vocab you will need. have a blast in mex!! xoxo, e
27th January 2006

CIAO ENRICA
CIA BELLA COME STAI? MAMMA MI HA DETTO CHE TI TROVI BENE, TI MANDO UN FORTE BACIONE ZIA EUGENIA
27th January 2006

hello surprise
im on line you will be hearing from me much love
28th January 2006

CB Name
Hi - Marc and Kurt had a CB radio in their old station wagon when I was a kid and my "handle" was SMURFETTE - I was too cool. 10-4 Miss you
30th January 2006

Hi Erica
So nice to see your smiling face and read about your life. Mucho Love-o.... Doug
31st January 2006

GREETINGS FROM THE UK!
HI ERICA, WHAT A FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE YOU ARE HAVING: CHALLENGING IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD! NO DOUBT, WHEN BORED AND HAVING NOTHING TO DO, YOU WILL BE USING THIS EXCELLENT TRAVELBLOG AS A BASIS FOR BOOK. I'M SURE YOU HAVE A CONVERTED READERSHIP (IN US) ALREADY. SERIOUSLY THOUGH, WELL DONE AND CONTINUE TO ENJOY EVERYTHING....EVEN THE COLD SHOWERS! LOVE PENNY AND MICHAEL
3rd February 2006

heya
Im getting skype next week and will be able to call you!!
10th February 2006

Electrons are people too
I feel your pain, Erica. Email and blogging are my primary means of communication with a lot of people too. It's no substitute for face to face contact, of course, but this globe-spanning lifestyle does have its advantages. And it does make those face to face encounters even more special.
14th February 2006

Homesickness is fleeting.....
Erica, I know how hard it is to be disconnected from family and friends - obviously Acheh and the UK are two VERY different situations! Keep focused on all the brilliant work you are doing and homesickness will pass - I'm sure Deb and Deena in Vietnam will be an excellent tonic! Call you via skype soon.....
16th February 2006

Your brother's girlfriend's Welsh friend!!
Erica, I was told to take a look at your blog and was glad i did!What a great experience, all your emotions are so normal and will settle down, just keep busy and have the time of your life! I'm loving reading about your adventures, i wish i'd done the same all those years ago when i first came to the States, would love to read it now!! Good luck with your important work, keep it up!!

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