A (Karonese) Indonesian Wedding

There were three wedding invitations on my table last Tuesday.

I never thought I would really get to attend one but then luckily the workplace organized a transport last Thursday to bring all those who can escape from work and extend well-wishes to the couples who were having their big day.

I joined one.

We traveled for about an hour through rolling hills and unpaved road.

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Then we reached the village aka kampong.

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From a distance you can already hear that a party is going on. We walked a few meters, turned some corners until we reached the village hall.

Gathered there were family members, friends and other relatives of the bride and groom. It was an interesting sight for me. People were garbed in their traditional costumes with those interesting head dress and Batik. The place was just overflowing with Batik, Indonesia’s national cloth.

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As the ceremony was already ongoing when we arrived, somebody ushered us in a small area to eat first.

Rice, plates and plastic glasses were placed in the middle of the mat. Everybody is expected to gather around.

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I was thinking if they only serve rice during weddings up until a man with a pail filled with steaming mix of meat and vegetables arrived and scooped one big spoon of the dish to my plate.

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This was how our plates look like. And there was a bowl of water in the middle to wash our hands. There were no spoon and fork. I made sure I got the first dip in the bowl as it is shared by the owners of all those four plates. That same bowl of water will be used to wash the hands after eating. I made sure I washed my hands in running water after the meal.

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The meal was interesting. It is spicy and very tasty. The vegetable came from puso ng saging or the crown of banana (?) and the meat was something I still can’t place until now. I am sure my Dad would be able to perfectly guess what it is based from the taste. The meal has to be eaten fast as the meat turns into greasy yellow quickly. I hope the meat is not from an animal I wouldn’t dare to eat.

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After the meal we came back to watch the ceremony.

The families of the bride and groom stand facing each other in the middle of the hall. One by one, the important members from the side of the groom leaves messages for the newly married couple while the family of the bride listens. It was full of drama. Sometimes, one family member will burst out crying as he/she is giving his/her message and the couple will walk towards him/her, hold his/her hands as if saying everything will be ok.

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And I can’t help but notice these women with stuff on their head. It turned out those will be their gifts to the new family.

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As these were ongoing, I was looking around trying to take in as much as I can.

I noticed that men and women are in separate circles. Women are huddled together oblivious to what is going on while the men are hunched over taking a drag from their cigarettes.

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One thing very fascinating for me were the women chewing a reddish stuff. I know it was bad to stare but I just can’t help it. And they seem not to mind especially after learning that I am not orang Indonesia. They willingly showed me how to prepare it. At first I thought it was betel nut they were chewing. But then they don’t use the seed that I saw some old people in the Philippines were chewing. They use dried tobacco (leaves?).

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These two Indonesian ladies were such dolls as they demoed to me how to make one. I would have wanted to try and taste it but then my colleague told me it is better if I don’t.

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Fine. But I made sure I had a photo with them.

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Oh, and another thing about this leafy concoction, they have to spit out the reddish juice that came out with chewing. I really think it is like the version of nganga in the Philippines, only with different ingredients.

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So yeah, after the messages, the fun part began.

Dancing!

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It was part of the wedding ceremony and the movements were all symbolical. I was smiling as I was watching.

Until I was dragged into the center and was forced to dance with the groom which I willingly obliged with my own version of dance steps of course.

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I enjoyed the wedding so much.

It is not the typical one I am used to and there are things that I will probably not get used to but what the heck, this is culture. I am just so honored to be invited and to be able to participate in such a loving event.

I wish the bride and groom a lasting and fruitful marriage.

I made sure I have a souvenir with the newly weds before the day ended. They looked so regal with that costume. Don’t you think so?

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It was more than a wedding for me. It was a cultural performance and I am very honored to witness it firsthand.

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My Sister is 27

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I can’t believe you are 27.

27 sounds old.

Don’t you think so? It kinds of leave a bad taste to the mouth.

Where has all the years gone? It was only recently that you had your 18th birthday, then 20th, then 25th. And now 27!!! It is getting closer and closer to 30. Yikes.

But 27 is a good number. It was for me. And since you are my sister and we are so alike (except that I have more patience than you) I hope my luck with that number rubs into you.

I was 27 when a lot of new and wonderful things happened in my life.

I know you have a lot in the running on your 27th too. I wish that all those experiences wisen you and make you appreciate more life. I know you do appreciate it more now after what your 26th has taught you.

But life just gets better and better. At times when we think we are in a slump and nothing is going right or nothing is going the way we imagined it, we get surprised by life and we can just smile because of the good fortune that landed on our feet.

I wish you all the best on your 27th and I hope it teaches you things that will mark your life so when you look back, you can say that it was 27 which did this to you.

I will be missing your birthday dinner but my thoughts will always be there.

Happy birthday girl. I am looking forward to our next great adventure.

And as a birthday gift you can stay for 3D2N in the most beautiful and luxurious resort in North Sumatra for free. See. I am not that kuripot as what you always claim. :p

I miss you.

P.S.

And did you notice how many times I wrote the number 27? Just so you’ll get used to it. 🙂 It can take quite a while you know. It is always easier and sweeter to say you are 25. :p

My Greatest Blessing Today

I am writing them down now just in case I lose that paper I was discretely yet hastily scribbling on as I listen to wonderful words of wisdom that only a wisened man with experience can truly and credibly convey.

———

I sat with him after dinner. He was having a drink with an expat colleague and I just finished working and eating at the same time. I brought my cup of tea to their table and tried to catch the ongoing conversation.

I asked him about his Batik shirt. That started it. We talked about work and stuff. Then the expat colleague stood up to go to the loo and my phone started beeping crazily. It’s the boss. I have to reply.

After finishing sending my replies I apologized for being rude and fiddling with my phone while he quietly sat across me.

He said he thought it was the boyfriend I was passionately texting. And that started it. I have to keep the brain cells working after that to remember all the nuggets of wisdom that came pouring like water. Too bad I forgot and missed a lot. But there’s still tomorrow. I will probably bring a recorder just to be sure. 😉

Him: Don’t work so hard that you forget to live your life.

Ouch. I am not really sure if I am guilty of this now but that was a nudge in the right direction. It doesn’t mean that if the work doesn’t feel like work that I will neglect myself from consciously stopping and start doing other things.

Him: People say they wanna know what’s gonna happen in the future but really, nobody wants to know.
Me: Why would people not want to know?
Him: Because that would be the end of ones dreams and goals.

Him: Sometimes you can get caught up in this place and just work and work. And when you you take a day off you feel guilty that you’re not working. Do not allow that to happen to you. I have only learned that fairly 2 or 3 years ago and I am 62 now.

This is me now.

It felt like I was reading my kind of book only this time I am hearing everything firsthand and I have to write down what I learned lest they are gone forever.

As we got up from the table and called it a night, I confessed that I wrote down things that I picked up from the conversation today.

He said that he does it all the time. I asked which one, the writing or the teaching? He said both. And then he continued, “I can only share what I think I did wrong in life hoping that others will learn from it and try not to repeat it. Work but do not forget to enjoy. Be wise with your money.

I have pissed with my money when I was young so I have to work even at this age. I can always tell myself I shouldn’t have traveled much and should have not done this or that but really, who knows what is right or wrong. There is really no right or wrong. In the end, just do whatever it is that makes you happy. And getting more money will not make you happy. Remember that.”

Definitely I will be sitting with him again tomorrow and hopefully play golf with him in the morning if I manage to escape from work.

He is my greatest blessing today.

Maymun!

Les, I feel like I’ve been convinced by some indian guys to go horseback riding with the Dalton Brothers in Cappadocia.

Really, what was I thinking? Writing on your blog? (Is it on or in your blog?? Ooooffff I don’t even know English enough for this! Give me a dictionary, lütfen!)

Well..as you can see, I left it to the last minutes of this day. Cause I’m brazilian and we do that: we leave everything for the last minute!

Maybe not because I’m brazilian…maybe cause I spent the whole day thinking about what to write here, and thinking about everything we lived together and thinking how much you mean to me. And I couldn’t find the words to explain that…

What is the Universe telling us when it puts both of us in the same country, same city, doing the same thing and with some people in common to introduce us in the middle of a crowded street at the end of some random day?

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I just know I thank the Universe for that. I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful that in the middle of a strange country, with people talking a strange language and having some strange food we decided not to be strangers anymore.

I’m thankful for our courage and for not having giving up on each other… Cause we have to admit: we even look weird together. It seems like we were not build to be friends! But we did it! In the middle of akward moments and some feelings that I was only thinking about beer and that you were not thinking about having fun (“She behaves like an old lady” I thought!)…in the middle of all these things, we made it!

And now, here I am… to start a new chapter! A written one 😉

Let’s see how it goes. Hope it tastes like manti and doesn’t look like a buyuk maymun 😉Imagem

One Very Brave Girl

It’s 11:03 PM and I should be sleeping. Or maybe not.

I just had dinner with the usual suspects plus two more. I and another colleague excused ourselves after two hours of chit chatting. Tomorrow is another day. We need to rest.

But then I was lured to check some of my SNS and check out updates aka gossips.

I realized I haven’t blogged much. A lot of entries are running into my head actually but I never got the chance to really sit with it.

Ok. So maybe I will do a couple tonight before I hit the bed.

New Year!

Where has the new year gone? I never even got the chance to really have a one on one with 2012 and say how thankful and grateful I am for the year. I never even got the chance to recount the things that the year has brought me. I never even got the chance to formally say goodbye.

And then here comes

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Celebrating New Year here in Indonesia was way way bearable than celebrating Christmas. Everybody was just in a festive mood and was so busy running here and there to make sure that everything is set accordingly. I fooled myself not to think about home.

I danced the year away.

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I remember I have to rush back after dinner of the 31st to my room to change and attempt to do all those rituals that I have been doing the past sane years of my life. Wear something polka dots, place money in my pockets, jump when the clock strikes 12.

I did not manage to do a single thing. The only polka dots I have in my wardrobe is a pair of socks I bought in one grocery store in Sydney. I slipped them on up until I decided to kick them out. They don’t feel right. I decided to wear jeans so I can put all my noisy coins in my pocket which will bring me good luck and more money for the new year as what somebody made me believe when I was young but then I decided that I will go with tights. When the clock struck twelve I was so mesmerized with the fireworks which ran for about 15 minutes that I forgot to jump and was too late when I realized what I have done.

It was an interesting new year. I was far away from people who matters. I was actually alone.

I was surrounded by a lot of people but I know I was alone.

People were hugging and kissing and I just smilingly watched them and wished them well. Afterwards I tried to peel people away from each other so I can hug and kiss them individually and wish them a great year.

It was the first time that I had this kind of New Year.

I remember I also celebrated a new year away from home before. I was living in Turkey then and the way they celebrate the day is unimaginable for an Asian like me. It was so quiet. We were in the living room watching TV waiting for the clock to strike 12. And then when the old year was gone, we stood up and gave each other a kiss and a hug and then off we went to bed. It was simple and intimate yet very lovely.

As I quietly slipped away from the well-wishers as they relish the last few seconds of the fireworks and started my walk back to the party, I felt like I was floating. Here I am in a country where I don’t really know anybody, celebrating a festive holiday meant to be shared with family and loved ones yet here I am feeling like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I was ok.

And then it hit me.

I was sitting with some colleagues earlier that day when the discussion veered towards me. They were asking if it is ok with my parents that I am here and they are there today. That question did not deserve an answer. I just gave a weak smile.

And then he said the words.

You are a very brave girl. 

Yeah, I think that’s it. There was a lightness in me that midnight. I have made myself proud.

The me walking back to the party ready to dance the night away alone, have fun, drink and laugh with total strangers ready to face the new year with everything it has prepared for me is indeed one very brave girl.

2012 and the other years which passed have made me into this.

Yes 2013, I am ready. Bring it on.