The road from Jakarta to the mountainside town of Cisarua has become an all-too-familiar path for me. Here thousands of would-be refugees live. Some are searching for a boat to Australia, hoping to find an honest people smuggler. Others are negotiating the interminable processes of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, praying that they may squeeze through the "front door" to the land of their dreams.
In the past 18 months I have been to Cisarua countless times - my trips triggered by a boat going down, an Australian election or another of the Byzantine twists in asylum policy.
The people here readily give their stories but they unfailingly ask for one thing in return - advice. I always try to avoid giving it.
On my first trip, on June 29, 2012, I equivocated but my words still had lasting ramifications for one man. Mohammad Sarwar Hussaini decided to do the right thing, the sensible thing, and wait for resettlement.
A year and a half later, all the people sitting with Sarwar outside their villa that day have made it to Australia. He has not. In September, Australia rejected his application. There is no right of appeal.
Not taking a boat might avoid a dangerous sea voyage but choosing resettlement has its own reefs and whirlpools, and carries a risk of sinking without trace.
Like many ethnic Hazaras, Sarwar is twice a refugee. A shepherd from the village of Baghe Chahr in the war-torn Afghan province of Oruzgan, he fled over the hills on the back of a donkey one night in 2000 after the Taliban hacked him on the wrist and ankle with a sword for being "Kafir", or infidel. They had already killed his brother.
Sarwar went to Quetta in Pakistan. But in 2010, as the security situation there became unbearable for Hazaras, he fled again, this time leaving his family behind and heading for Australia, promising his wife, two sons and four daughters that he
would send for them when he was settled.
Once in Indonesia, Sarwar tried three times to go to Australia by boat. Each voyage failed.
He endured a year inside the Belawan immigration detention centre in Medan - by some accounts, Indonesia's worst. He was locked for long periods in his tiny cell without a view of the sky, occupying himself by cooking for 160 inmates.
While he was there, unknown to him, his daughter, Sadia Batul, made it to Australia by boat. Also without his knowledge, his eight-year-old son, Sher Ali, died in a bomb blast in Quetta.
The boy had been attending the first day of the Eid al-Fitr ceremony. Walking between the playground and the prayer room, a car bomb exploded. Eleven people died.
Only months later, in December 2011, having been declared by the UNHCR to be a genuine refugee, did Sarwar hear the news.
"Outside [the prison] I come," he says in his halting English. "I call my wife, she says, 'Your little son, Sher Ali, for first [day of] Eid al-Fitr, is in the bomb blast. Is dead'. After that I am very [upset]."
His friend Farmanullah Zazai cuts in: "When he heard his son was dead, the news, he mental, his mind, brain, not working."
"For three months," Sarwar adds. His daughter Sadia says Sarwar could not speak. He gave up eating. She had never seen her father cry - now he did little else. The refugee service providers were sympathetic.
"UNHCR is come, they say, 'I am so sorry. I am so very sorry'," Sarwar says. "They say, 'be patient, we will send you to New Zealand'. But then I wait, wait, wait. Then I say, 'I'll go by boat'."
I made my trip to Cisarua, nine months after little Sher Ali died, when Sarwar was waiting for that boat.
My visit was prompted by another tragedy. On June 21, 2012, a boat carrying 207 people sank on the way to Christmas Island - 96 died.
The Australian Parliament was in uproar. Julia Gillard again proposed her Malaysia solution but it ran aground on Tony Abbott. She appointed the Houston panel and I was dispatched to gauge the mood in Cisarua.
The two men I interviewed that day who could speak English, Imayat Ali and Hameed Ullah, said they were still determined to take the illegal route. Sarwar was a silent figure among a large group who sat nearby and nodded.
And then they asked my advice. For Sarwar at least, what I said - no doubt about the terrible dangers of the sea voyage - was enough to convince him to wait. He had wanted to be aboard the fatal boat but there had been no room.
At first, the waiting seemed to go well. In October 2012, he was interviewed by the Australian embassy for resettlement. He mentioned this encounter with a journalist, a revelation that seemed to anger his Australian interviewer.
But the man promised Sarwar he would have an answer in four months. In the 11 months following he heard nothing.
As time dragged on, in Quetta, his only other son, Hadi, 18, disappeared. Still no one knows where he is, whether he is alive or dead. Sarwar's wife has had a breakdown.
"I call my wife. She says, 'Who are you?'," Sarwar says.
"I say, 'I am your husband'. She says, 'You are not my husband. If you are my husband, where is your son?' I say, 'My son is there with you'.
"She says, 'He's not in here. He's with you'." Hadi was 15 the last time his father saw him.
In September last year, a letter arrived from the Australian immigration department, its footer emblazoned with the words, "People our business".
It's a rejection letter. There is not - there never is - any explanation, only the line: "I was not satisfied that you met the relevant criteria," followed by a series of numbers signifying clauses in the Immigration Act. It is signed illegibly by someone identified as "Position No. 5928", a senior migration officer.
I know these things because Sarwar called me recently. He remembered me and found my number but this time he wanted more than advice. He wanted help.
I found him a refugee lawyer in Australia to talk to. The lawyer said there was no right of appeal. The UNHCR says it will try to resettle him elsewhere, perhaps Canada, New Zealand or the US.
But he wants to join his daughter Sadia in Australia, where she is now a permanent resident, living with a husband Sarwar has not met. He has a grandchild - Sadia was pregnant on the boat in 2011 - and another on the way.
Sarwar and I met at the offices of the UNHCR. Clandestinely - journalists are not allowed to interview people there - we look at the photo of our first meeting in Cisarua. He looks at all the faces - each with their own story - who flank him. All went by boat; all are now in Australia and living on various kinds of visas.
Sarwar has seen many others granted official refugee status through the UNHCR process. Some he says were agents for people smugglers. His experience tells him that, in this process, it pays to lie.
Since Australia's final crackdown on boat arrivals, an increasing number of asylum seekers in Indonesia pin their hopes on legal resettlement. But to the thousands of those waiting, the process appears interminable and little better than random.
Sarwar says he stayed in Indonesia because of me. But he has no anger about it. "I don't know," he says. "My luck is bad."
Once again, though, he is asking for advice. "Now I am thinking where I go? Not go back in Afghanistan. They kill me. But every day here I am killed by waiting."
As usual, I have nothing to offer.