Friday, 27 February 2009

Surabaya Revisited - The Rocky Story

For me, Indonesia always holds an unmistakable lure, be it Bali, Jogjakarta or Surabaya. There is magic in the air and each trip has been one discovery after another.

Since our last visit 3 years ago, I have gained a friend who hails from Surabaya. Rocky, is a yogi of Japanese-Indonesian heritage, whom I met on a yoga retreat to Bhutan, a year and a half ago. Sympatico would describe our relationship.

Luck was on my side when he confirmed he was in Surabaya at the time of my visit, and not on one of his frequent sojourns to Bali for personal yoga classes with his clients.
He had arranged a packed program for me starting with a special yoga class in a spa. It was there that the next surprise unfolded - an interview by the local daily, Jawa Pos (Java Post) for a feature article. This included a photo shoot for the spread. It turned out to be an interactive interview, where I learnt as much of Surabaya living as they did of my lifestyle.
Yoga practitioners will be interested to know that since our hoo-hah about yoga in Malaysia, Indonesia has come out with a fatwa against the practice of yoga for muslims! They blame us for this turn of events.
Many photographs later, we were off for a well-earned meal of ikan panggang (grilled fish) and pepper crab at a seafood restaurant. Yum.

The next day I attended a 7 am yoga class at Atlas Gym where Rocky had been instrumental in establishing the yoga studio. His poster stands as evidence by the poolside.

The gym has 2 swimming pools, tennis, squash, weights, machines, Pilates, dance, yoga and a couple of cafeterias which serve up a tasty nasi goreng ( fried rice). The yoga classes are popular as you can see from the number of mats laid out. You are allotted a place number upon booking for a class. By the end of the class there were mats occupying every available space - easily close to 50!

After yoga, I found Rocky working out with his personal trainer. I was given a few tips for great abs and was off to the machines.

True to fitness regimes, we kept up to the 2-hourly feeding schedule. Breakfast was a tasty fried kuey teow (flat rice noodles), not particularly a health food option, before checking out his latest project for the past year - the building of Rumah Rocky (Rocky's House). It is situated in the older residential area of East Surabaya amongst plenty of greenery and quiet narrow lanes.

Earlier I had asked as to the theme of his house - 'Indian' was the reply. As soon as I laid my eyes upon the structure, I was immediately reminded of the Red Fort or Lal Quila, one of old Delhi's monuments of red sandstone walls with turrets and bastions. The 2-storey building was 75% complete under the watchful eye of the proud owner.

Rocky tells me that he has ended up being the architect, contractor and interior decorator to achieve the outcome and effect he wants. This is his dream - a yoga studio-cum-home in gentle surroundings.

The ground floor studio is spacious with a granite feature wall recessed behind the white Mogul arches. A small pantry to cater for refreshments for clients is tucked away in a quiet nook.

The emphasis on natural ventilation of the entire house has been painstakingly thought through by the architect-cum-contractor. This vent goes all the way around the house and through to the top floor providing good air circulation. Go green Rocky!The mezzanine houses the studio apartment and a private balcony. Being a keen shopper, the walk-in-cupboard has been dedicated a luxurious space within the bathroom suite.The upstairs studio is almost double the size of the downstairs one. It is slated to be a hot studio. Note the through ventilation idea again...From the studio, the view of the surrounding neighbourhood is capitivating.

As I walked down the steps of this puri (Indonesian castle), I felt very happy for my friend who has managed to fulfill his dreams and aspirations so aesthetically. Namaste Rocky...

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