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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Indonesia III

One Sunday I attend church with my hosts, at an interdenominational church service attended by many faculty and staff of Satya Wacana.  This morning the pastor, visiting preacher, and music director, who smoothly conducts the congregational singing of the liturgy as well as the choir, are all women. The congregation sings heartily, the hymns, all in Indonesian, sound heartfelt.  During the sermon, which I cannot follow, I challenge myself to notice idiosyncracies of Indonesian speech.  There is elision.  Short e is sounded as a soft 'uh,' and v's are tantamount to f.  Elders take up two separately designated offerings, in blue velvet bags hanging from double-handled wooden circles which the we pass to each other along the pew.  After the service, everybody shakes hands with everyone else, as is their custom. We pour out into the morning sunshine.  Cheerful conversations and more handshakes follow.  We go out for lunch.

In addition to the fresh air, breathtaking views, and convivial conversations, my Indonesian week includes
dining out at several local restaurants.  One day there is Kula Arum, a secluded, overgrown greenery-hidden, vintage looking building, which is actually a large, well-appointed, open-walled, marble floored pavillion made to look older than it really is.  Another day there is an nondescript looking building that turns out to be a series of dining rooms of various sizes, interspersed with dividers and copious plants, and tended to by a bumptious American woman who greets Rosie boisterously, and updates her on the whereabouts of mutual acquaintances, while a parrot in a cage near the desk keeps an eye on us all.  After a walk through the pasar on Saturday, we dine, poolside, at a fifth floor restaurant with parapets overlooking the town.  I have the most delicate beef stroganoff ever, comparable only to the lamb ragout I enjoyed a couple years ago in a New Delhi garden restaurant.  As the meal concludes, we are treated to the dramatic sight of wind sweeping a rainstorm over the mist-shrouded volcano and hills in the distance.

I can't help comparing the bazaar, called pasar in Java, to similar experiences in India.  Sellers of all kinds
of fresh produce:  fish, flowers, meat, fruit, and vegetables on the pavement or in tiny shops, other shops with crude tools, simple toys or jewellery--you name it-- line the aisles, with hardly room to walk between them and the walkway, where motorcycles move calmly and carefully along with the walkers.  The pasar seems to be as big as an American 'block,' with shops like this, often two deep, on all sides of a solid warren of tiny lanes leading to small shops of more varieties of goods....We spend an hour only walking around the outside of the pasar, thankful for a roof wide enough to lend shade as we shop. Vera quietly produces an umbrella for me when we pass a stretch under the hot noonday sun. Dani buys me a rather attractive cowbell that I admire.

The town food inspector greets the Kameos as she comes to check out the meat stalls.  Whole and cut up chicken, red meat being sliced on a table, you name it, are all right out in the open, and looking surprisingly clean.  A plump woman meat seller exchanges pleasantries with Rosie.  Everyone seems affable, open and unselfconscious as Rosie snaps pictures along the way.  At a tin-roofed section of sweet treats, we watch, taste and buy a local version of peanut brittle being made with crude brown sugar.  Nearby a man patiently pedals a bicycle affixed to a tiny platform where a little girl enjoys the resultant back and forth of a miniature car, much like an American child would enjoy the animal or car 'ride' at a mall or supermarket.  We pick out a few bundles of fresh flowers.  My feet are complaining, but it's tempting to stay and see some more.

I'm tired but happy as we drive back to Solo for a flight back to Singapore, where I'll connect with my onward flight to India.  I wish I'd thought of allowing time for souvenir shopping at the airport, but the Indonesian puppets and basketry products I admire there will have to wait for another visit.  PTL I get
three seats to myself, and am able to stretch out and sleep on the flight of several hours

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