No more “ruang tamu” in our house

Thirteen months into the Pandemic, and It is just now that I have my own workspace. I used to work in the only guest bedroom in our house. There was a little table at the corner that I used every day from around eight to four, or sometimes, five in the afternoon. Working from home for a year now, I still keep this office routine. In the early days of the pandemic, I used to work outside in the morning, at Kayla’s park, a little garden by the side of our house. It’s nice there, but it gets warmer during the day and it is quite a hassle to take out and bring in the table.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my wife if we could change our ‘Ruang Tamu’, a term used in almost all Indonesian houses referring to a room to entertain guests. This is usually a dedicated space in the house where Indonesians meet their guests. Some use it as a living room where they spend time with the family watching TV.

However, I found it not practical at all to have this Ruang Tamu. If we have visitors (before the pandemic of course), for people that we know well, like friends and relatives, we’d ask them to go in straight into our living room or having a chat at our dining table. If the guests are strangers, we’d just meet them at our porch. The only time we used the Ruang Tamu used to be during Idul Fitri day (Moslem Festival marking the end of fasting month or Ramadhan), where we have friends visiting our place.

During Christmas and Idul Fitri, people in Kupang usually visit their friends and relatives’ houses to greet each other best wishes. This custom too is now disappearing, or at least in our house. We’re not visiting our friends or relatives anymore and we don’t have guests anymore. Idul Fitri becomes more exclusive when we spend our time alone or, only with, very close relatives. It’s more practical I feel, and less stressful too.

Anyway, back to Ruang Tamu, so our Ruang Tamu becomes unused throughout the year. When I first raised the idea of converting it into a workspace, my wife was hesitant because she somehow had put all the things waiting to be sorted out in this room.

“Well, if we change the Ruang Tamu to be a working space, we will conserve energy. I can open the front door and we don’t have to switch on the AC during the day”, I hope I sounded more convincing this time.

“I like that”, She said.

So today, I officially have a dedicated working space in the house. I love the place. I have all my books within reach now and my wife has been very kind to put some pot plants. I used to forget to take a walk and just stay in side the room all day. Now that I can get access to porch, I would walk around every now and then.

I know it sounds so trivial, converting an unused room in the house to be a different function room, but to me it’s also a sign of adapting and evolving.

We no longer have a Ruang Tamu in our house. We have opted for practicality rather than following an old tradition of Indonesian houses, having a dedicated space to entertain guests.

Does it mean we are now part of a generation who become more practical? or instead, becoming less social member of the society?

Honestly, I can’t tell which one.

That’s Maxi. He is 10 months old now, and a pair of slippers on the table is artwork.

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