Friday, May 06, 2011

Living Among Three Different Tribes

Indonesia. An archipelagic country and is rich with its natural resources, beautiful panoramas, islands, and, for all people have come to know, cultures. There are many cultures Indonesia has. These cultures have been the power to show to the world the uniqueness of Indonesia. Here, each and every place someone will happen to visit, he or she will be experiencing culture differs from one place to another. The culture consists of many things which are vary from one place to another; such as traditional dances, traditional songs and musical instruments, folklores, food, traditional languages and tribes. It is said to be over than 300 tribes spread all over Indonesia.

Talking about tribes, I live with parents whose tribes are different. My grandparents from my mother came all the way to Jakarta from Padang Sidimpuan (South Tapanuli), North Sumatra. So, clearly, they are Bataknese, and so does my mother. Even though my mother was born in Jakarta, but her blood is a true Bataknese. The way she talks (said to be louder than any tribes else, and which is true), the way she thinks, the way she makes a quick decision, and the way she cooks. She doesn’t cook all kinds of the traditional food, but I’m pretty sure, the way she cooks has been influenced by the cooking heritage of her tribe. For example, someone who comes from other tribes may not cook mashed daun singkong (leaves grown from cassava trees). But Bataknese, so do my grandmother and my mother, make the cassava leaves mashed first before it cooked with coconut milk and anchovies. Sometimes they add chopped eggplants cooked with it.

On the other hand, my father’s father came from Gombong, Central Java; while his (my father’s) mother came from Samarinda, East Kalimantan. Although there are two different tribes in my father’s blood, but I have seen that the Javanese tribe is pretty dominant on him. My dad likes food that has a little bit sweet taste in it, just like Javanese food. Gudeg and krecek will always be my father’s number one dish; and gemblong (mashed cassava cooked with sugar palm) will be his favourite snack, served with wedang jahe (made of ginger boiled with water and sugar; sometimes he likes to mix it with milk). Also, my father doesn’t make a quick decision like my mother, just like a Javanese.

Besides living with parents of different tribes, I also experience living in Jakarta with its multicultural people. There, I live alone in a rented room from a local family resident, which is a Batavian. Mrs. Atiek, the owner of the house, has couple times made me some Batavian dishes like asinan Betawi and ketupat sayur Betawi. I can’t best describe the different between those dishes; I know less the contrast of them. Asinan Betawi differs to asinan Bogor since there are peanuts served in asinan Betawi. While ketupat sayur Betawi contrast to ketupat sayur Padang usually seen from the vegetables they used; Batavian use chayotes in their dish while Padangnese use nangka, buncis and red-coloured kerupuk in their dish.

I have friends that are also come from various tribes, but many of them are the real Batavians. I like when one of my friend talks in a Batavian accent and language: “Yailah, babe gue mah kagak begono, yak, dia mana bisa dah megang hp. Lah orang ada sms masuk di hp nya malah di-halo-halo-in. Gaptek bener dah pokoknya babe gue.” (“Well, my dad is unlikely to be like that, he can’t use any hand phone. When there’s an incoming text message, he picks it up and says hallo as if there’s an incoming call.”). Sometimes I hold myself for laughing because I, personally, hear this accent and language as something kind of funny.

With these tribes living very close to me, I can feel the rich of Indonesia every day. When I’m home, I meet a mixed culture between Sumatra and Java. And that explains why I sometimes act so shy, and why I sometimes talk very loud. I love eating sayur daun singkong as much as gemblong, tempe mendoan and lanting be my favourite snack. I can’t play the gamelan (Javanese traditional music instrument) or even to be a sinden, but I like the sound of the music. I can do a little dance and sing Bataknese songs like Butet, Raphita Na Dua, and Sinanggar Tulo. Well, I must say that it happened to me once back then, when I was in elementary school commemorating Kartini’s Day, I wore kebaya and batik (traditional outfit of Javanese) mixed with ulos (Bataknese’ traditional cloth) to describe the two tribes I’ve been living with.

However, when I’m out, I am with friends who, I can say, are the ”owner” of the land Jakarta. Most of them are pretty talkative, fussy and captious. But these kinds of people, if I don’t have them with me, probably will never make a fun and cheering atmosphere. I call one of my friends “eneng”, since she is a total Batavian and eneng is a call for an unmarried Batavian girl. Friends with her means I am also friends with the food like soto betawi, asinan betawi and kerak telor, which is my favourite. Yes, I am in paradise.

To conclude, having parents, people and friends with different tribes makes me feel rich indeed. I can proudly represent the rich of Indonesia with mixed outfit like what I did long ago; I have two sides of personality and behaviour as the result of my parents’ marriage; I can often experience the contrary rhythm of music of my parents’ tribes; I have friends who are able to build a cheering vibe; and I can taste different traditional food from different origin tribes among me. And that what makes me fall in love to the richness of Indonesia. Indonesia, oh Indonesia.