On Saying Goodbye

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I have seen it several times the past few months I have been here in Indonesia and though I can say that I have learned how to hold back tears and control emotions, it doesn’t make it any easier. Today, I said goodbye to one of my best staff. She was crying and I was just hugging her telling her everything is going to be alright.

I almost joined in her tears but it doesn’t look good losing my composure especially when I already look terrible to begin with. It is my day off and I was lazily enjoying my bed in my pajamas and messy hair reading blogs when my phone rang. An unknown number popped out. I answered and it is her. She said she wants to say goodbye. I don’t have time to take a shower or dress up as she is outside my door. I pulled my hair in a ponytail or a semblance of it and did a quick physical check if I am wearing undergarments. No time even to wash my face. When I opened my door there she is, tears welling up in her eyes. I hugged her tightly thanking her for the wonderful service she has done and that I wish her success in all her plans in life.

As I look at her and hug her again and again, there was a slight pinch in the heart. In as much as I want to compartmentalize my life treating work as work and personal as personal, there comes a time when the merging happens without us knowing. I cannot claim that all those people who have said goodbye to try something new or to welcome new experiences are very close to my heart, but those few who were able to transcend the imaginary professional block that I have created occupy a very special space within me because they found a way to touch me dearly.

I am trying to hold back tears now as I type this but I am also joyously aware and thankful that I am allowed to feel this kind of emotion.

I know the coming and going will always be a part of life. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it worth living.

To all those ex colleagues who became special to me in one way or another, thank you for touching my heart. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in the story of your life the same way you played yours in mine.

*image credit

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When I Bowed to the Rain

Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.

–Anonymous

I was secretly hating the rain. I, together with the other colleagues, have been meaning to do a trial run of flying Japanese lanterns for over a week now. The schedule is always cancelled. It has been raining consistently at night the past few days. There is no way those lanterns are going to soar with those droplets.

Today was no different. There was a drizzle again. Most probably the plan tonight will again be scrapped.

Anyway…

It was the last 30 minutes of my official working hours. Official because I still do work from time to time after work and today is one of them.

So I was bludging and checking some websites for “research” when I unconsciously peered out the glass window as I try to remember something. And then I saw this.

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My eyes widened and my jaw dropped open. Holy shoot.

That is so gorgeous!

I have to laugh at myself for my over the top reaction considering I am alone in my space.

I quickly composed myself and grabbed my P&S sitting prettily on my table. I cannot let this pass.

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There was no word to describe it. My heart was singing.

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Who doesn’t love rainbows? Who won’t fall in love with rainbows?

I have to quickly run to my room and grab my DSLR hoping it will give me better quality photos (in Auto mode). Haha. I still haven’t gotten around fiddling with those buttons. I still don’t know how to use that camera!

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I am not sure if there was any difference. But with such a subject, there is no way it will look ugly.

I fell in love over and over again with this place.

Everyday I never fail to thank God for placing me here, for handpicking these hills to be part of my life story. Surely His imaginations are always way way better than what I can fathom.

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And as I capped my clicking spree I secretly forgave the rain for pouring today.

Because indeed, rainbows need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.

Thank you for the wonderful lesson.

Babi Panggang Karo

It was a Wednesday. The bosses allowed me to escape from the hills and gave me a few days off.

I have a flight to catch the following day and with the distance of my hills to the nearest airport, I have to go down a day before.

I was with other colleagues in the car. They are going back to the city too. Lunch time and we decided to have a rest from the 4-hour drive. We stopped by KFC. They know I love KFC (only because there is no McDonald’s in sight).

As they were having their cigarette break before we walked into the fastfood, one colleague asked me if I would like to try one of the specialties that North Sumatra offers. The place is not so hygienic but serves good food, he said.

I am not picky. I can eat anything. I love new experiences. So we forgot about KFC.

We ended up in BPK.

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BPK stands for Babi Panggang Karo. Babi means pork. Panggang means grilled. Karo is one of the ethnic groups in North Sumatra.

When I saw the place, I smiled. This is a place where my Dad and I would not cringe to eat in. My Mom, brother and sister, well, that’s another story. 🙂

According to Wikipedia, Babi panggang Karo and Babi panggang Toba are two similar dishes made by the Christian Batak Toba and Batak Karo of North Sumatra. Pigs are slaughtered and used in their entirety to make babi panggang – bones for a clear soup, meat (including offal) to be grilled, and blood for a dipping sauce. The three dishes are served with plain rice and a sambal andaliman, made from fresh sichuan peppers.

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I am familiar with bones being used for soup and meat being grilled. But blood as the dipping sauce? I almost died (not). I am used to soy sauce and kalamansi or vinegar with crushed garlic.

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I was a little bit hesitant to try that blackish sauce but then I remember we have Dinuguan back home which is a thick soupy dish made from the blood of the pig mixed with meat from pig’s face and its innards. And I eat Dinuguan with passion so who am I to be scared of this small bowl of blackish dip with pepper in it? It should be child’s play.

Still. 🙂

The experience was interesting.

First, they served steaming rice with a bowl of salty clear soup and Camote tops. Only a spoon was given and a bowl of water where you can wash your hands. The spoon is meant to be used only for the soup. The rest of the meal you have to eat by hand.

People love to eat with their hands in Indonesia. That same bowl of water will be used later on to wash away the remnants of food that clung to the hands.

I am not up to it that moment. I asked for a fork.

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As the Babi (pork) was being grilled, I asked my colleagues what they use to marinate the meat. Do they dip it in special sauce or do they just put salt and pepper? They said none of the above. No condiment whatsoever is added. The meat is just grilled directly. Say what?

I hope the meat was washed before that. I remember how my parents always talk about meat hanged by the roadside and sold to people. They were saying how much bacteria sticks to the meat from the dust and other elements of the earth.

I have seen a lot of exposed, “unprotected” hanging pig’s head and meat on the way to the BPK resto. Is that where the meat came from? OMG. No Monterey? Yikes.

So the grilled meat arrived. I can still see some pig’s hairs sticking out. Ok.

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My lunchmates started digging in and eating the food passionately. I was a bit slow. I asked if they sell cola. Grilled meat is good with cola. They have none. But the owner of the shop was nice and bought me a bottle from the nearest sari-sari store or small store by the road side. Very much like the Philippines. The cola was not cold. I asked for some ice. The owner came back with some irregularly crushed ice. I wonder where she got it. I should not think too much.

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The grilled meat with no condiments in it didn’t taste much. And I love tasty food. So I did it. I dipped my meat in the blood sauce.

I think I enjoyed it. The thick soupy blood mixed with the finely shredded hot chilis added extra flavor. Interesting.

The salty soup and the Camote tops completed the meal with my iced cold cola.

I must say it was a great first BPK experience.

But with all that smoke getting into the shop from the griller, the noise of the cars passing by the road and the incomplete cutlery here and there, this place is not for the fussy eater or the weak at heart.

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But we only live life once so what the hell.

Experience everything, I always tell myself. It will be worth it. 🙂