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Landlady? Who?

When Oky died in 2019, I was suddenly left with Gupondoro, an estate of about 750 square meters in Lembang, Bandung. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this needed a HUGE adjustment on my side. To be kind to myself, I clearly had many other issues to deal with those months. As nice and romantic as it sounds to inherit a beautiful, architecturally special home, real life has a way of waking you up with cold water, doesn’t it? Being a landlady is no walk in the park.

Newbie House Owner

To give some background: although I had lived by myself in the States for about 6 years, I never owned a room, let alone a house. The longest time I stayed in one apartment building was 1 year. Going from renting a room and having a system handy to call if anything went wrong to OWNING land and trees and a four-story HOUSE in a matter of one day was, to be honest, overwhelming. I’m a landlady? What does that even MEAN?

The infested tree.

Well, apparently it means when lightning rods break down I had to do something about it. It means when the huge tree in front of the house becomes infested with bugs and is likely to fall down, I have to take action before it goes the way of the lightning rod. It means dealing with gardeners that don’t have phones because they are too poor, and are hard to find, and as such obviously hard to communicate with. It means renovating the stairs when one part of the steps is about to collapse. It means dragging up water supply during the dry season because there is NOT ENOUGH WATER FOR THE WHOLE VILLAGE.

Hey, I didn’t sign up for this, I say to myself.

But wait, who is going to do it for me if I don’t learn? Damn.

Broken lightning rod.

The first consolation for me is that I partnered up with Alexandra and Marcel to prepare the house for receiving guests on AirBnB. It was the only way to cover all the maintenance costs that seemed to pop out of nowhere without end. I learned quickly that owning a house means you must build an emergency house fund. Anything can happen, and you’re screwed if you’re caught unprepared with some extra cash.

I love architects!

The picnic table needs a major reconstruction.

The next consolation for me is that my second husband Cung is also an architect. This means he can advise me on the necessary steps I have to take (for free, tee hee). People ask me why I married another architect again. Well, what can I say? They are pretty handy people!

Recently, the large wooden picnic table and the long chairs in the garden finally gave way to the weather, time, and rot. I called Rendy, who incidentally was one of Oky’s best friends. Rendy was also the one to introduce me to Cung (now that’s a juicy tale to tell) and asked for his help. Rendy (who is also an architect!) specializes in creating furniture from recycled material. He took up the challenge with Conture Concrete Lab. The whole process took about 2 months. Everyone is happy with the results.

New table!!!

I’m relieved for now, but also slightly anxious at what problems will come up next month. Goodness, look at me talking like a landlady.

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Sketches and Regrets

Oky Kusprianto and I got married on the 25th of February 2017. He died on the 16th of June 2019 at the age of 42. Not a long life, and definitely not a long marriage for me.

He was an architect, quite famous in Bandung. In his short life, the number of designs he created was simply overwhelming. He was constantly sketching. One time we were caught in very bad traffic, and I asked him what he was thinking about. “I’m drawing in my mind,” he answered. That’s Oky for you.

During his funeral (it was a whole week-long process, one day I’ll write about it), his architecture friends gave me the idea to collect his designs in a book, as a tribute to his talent. They mentioned I would need the help of a fellow architect, curator, and writer: Setiadi Sopandi (commonly known as Cung).

Life has a weird sense of humor, doesn’t it? Because Cung and I hit it off and we got married in August 2020 (yes, a Covid wedding). The book? It happened, with the support of Realrich from OMAH Library.

Concept

The idea for the book evolved from an exhibition of Oky’s sketches and my writings, installed at Villa Gupondoro. The collection was curated by Cung, since the total amount of his work is still being collected even until now. Some of them were never built, some of them became spectacular icons in Bandung, for example, Babakan Siliwangi Forest Walk and Dusun Bambu Family Park. The title of both the exhibition and the book is Sketches and Regrets because throughout our relationship, there was one thing I regretted: that I did not experience his works more when he was alive.

But I do not wish to live my current and future life in this same constant regret. Now, I try to visit Oky’s creations regularly. I also try to visit Cung’s buildings. It’s fun. I enjoy getting insider info on how this pillar was not supposed to be there, or how the small interior details cost the client a leg and an arm.

Before publishing the book, Realrich said “I’m excited! OMAH Library has never yet published an architectural book from the perspective of the Mrs.” Don’t you just love that? I think it’s a real measure of Rich’s vision and open-mindedness for community.

Well OMAH, I’m still a Mrs. Architect now, so I hope I’ll continue to contribute a woman’s voice to your publications.

You can purchase the book here. If you happen to have read Sketches and Regrets, kindly drop an honest review on Goodreads.

With special thanks to translator Juhendy Setiawan and photographer Christian Nathanael.