October 18, 2010

Cultural Orientation Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of our orientation!  

This day was a little more interactive, thank heaven.  This is the official logo of the Miniature Indonesia park...

...and in the park itself is where we spent our morning.  Our hosts thoughtfully started the tour at 8 to give us the best chance of not melting into large puddles of expatriate sweat as we moved from place to place and stood in whatever shade we could find to listen to our guides.  

We were moved around in small 9 passenger open trams.  These were built like our current home, i.e. for much smaller people, and once again I offer my scale model to show the difficulty we had folding our tall selves into the space provided...

I am sitting at the same angle, shooting the picture, while our even taller friend Liu with PetroChina sat to my right in the same pickle, facing the opposite direction.  Our tram bristled with poking out knees and dangling legs. 

In fairness, we later learned that in some of the trams, if you grabbed the front three seats, there was sufficient leg room behind the driver and guide to actually sit normally.  

And we did, leaving our shorter compatriots to fight it out in the munchkin seats.  

Anyway, the tour.  Here are some samples of the architecture we toured...

Traditional Sumatran home

Traditional Papua home in village

Java (Bali).  I think. 

Rice house.

This rice house is cool- the rice is kept in there and as you can see there is no entrance or stair way. If you belong and want in, you will know the 'password' to send the ladder down to you.  Otherwise it will be hard to steal this person's rice.  Ha!

We also toured a museum that contained mostly exhibits of foreign dignitaries' visits and/or things that showed what a great and humble man Suharto was, at least according to Suharto.  Even the guides kept saying, the park is wonderful- just don't think about who started it.  :-)

By this time we were all pretty hot, sweaty and wilted, so we were whisked back to the pavilion for another presentation by BPMIGAS that covered their business position (basically "give us your knowledge then go home"- a common theme among developing nations with oil and gas reserves).  


I don't have to deal with it everyday like Ted and it just rolls off his back.  Indonesia is like so many places we have lived and visited- the governments are kind of dorky and the people are terrific.  

I'll stick with the people.  

Lunch on Day Two was just as yummy, and our table mates were two Malaysian men who were pretty darned funny and gave us great insight into the rivalry between Indonesia and Malaysia.  There is a lot of playful and not so playful animosity between the two countries, very much like state rivalries we have in the U.S. - lots of back and forth about who invented what and who has the best "-----" (you name it).  

Our lunch pals were not terribly impressed with our hosts and even went so far as to claim that Malay batiks are superior.  When I asked one of them if his shirt was an example of Malay batik he said,  "No! This is inferior Indonesia batik.  But when you are in Rome, you must be Roman, yes?"

Cracked us up.  

After lunch, we got a chance to hear the brother of Dr. Agoes, Dr. H. Arief Rachman, on the subject of Indonesian culture.  

He laid out for us, in many ways, how Indonesians see and react to the world, and did it in a very engaging and funny manner, even when he was touching briefly on his 17 arrests for dissenting with certain unpopular governments (if you have been paying attention, you can fill in your own presidential name here).  

He has a high giggling laugh and absolutely no self consciousness at all and he had us all practicing Balinese meditation, learning Sumatran songs, and working on our Bahasa Indonesia pronunciation.  

We got a lot of good and useful information about Indonesian Muslims and we will continue to learn about them throughout our life here, I think.  Knowledge trumps fear every time.  

Dr. Rachman was followed by a brother and sister from Bali whose parents have spent a lifetime learning, teaching and expanding Balinese dancing- you will probably recognize the style from the following picture-

That's Dewi (day-wee).  And she was spectacular. There is a lot involved in the movements and like any dance form once the nuances are explained it becomes so much more fun. Dewi runs a graphic design firm in Bali, but does this whenever she can... her love for the history and dance is so obvious. 

This is Dewi and her brother Marlowe giving some history and instruction before we followed them into the museum where they had laid out pads and oriental rugs for us all to go and do a Kecak dance with them, chanting and dancing with our hands in a circle on the floor.  

It was a hoot.  

The final part of the orientation, was our initiation into the joys of playing the Angklung (ahng- kloong).  They are bamboo instruments, each one tuned to play a single note and then played by a group (think carillon choir).  When we returned from the Kecak, each of our seats had an angklung on it, with a number sticker.  

Each number corresponded to a single note and our director taught us to play them (hold tight by the center with the left hand, shake rapidly in a side to side motion with your right), and then gave us hand signals that corresponded to each number/note while we played Beethoven and the Beatles.  

Then she dropped a screen sized piece of sheet music and we played Queen's "We are the Champions".  

We rocked.  

Our angklungs were given to us as gifts, and incredibly there were people there who didn't want theirs- (don't ask me... how could you pass that up???), so we now have three because I accepted one of the orphaned angklung.  Ted says I just took it, but I prefer to think of things left behind as "offered". 

Here's the original two...

That was the finale of our two day orientation, 80% fun and interesting, 20% boring, so all in all pretty darned successful.  As a parting gift we were given a small bag with two kinds of batik fabric.  Very nice.

It had started raining during the Balinese dance, and in addition to the thunder and lightning, the rain was pretty heavy and constant and on the museum roof were gargoyles that acted as rainspouts.  So as your parting shot for our two days at TMII here is a long shot and a close up of the coolest rain spouts ever.


Anonymous said...

I loved reading your cultural orientation blogs and the pictures are just beautiful. I am learning so much about Indonesia and I bring everybody up to date on your life there and lifestyle.
Love you,

Teresa said...

No doubt the rice house’s theft protection system could prove useful in the States with attractive teenage daughters. Funny….Rapunzel didn’t look Indonesian!

Barbara said...

So, my good friend, where are the pictures of you and Ted doing the Kecak dance thing?

I am loving seeing you back in the blogesphere. :)

Stay well.


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