Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fried Cauliflower

Colleagues in my current workplace are married people who have a penchant for cooking. Sometimes we cook up food in the pantry for Friday lunch, and other times one of them go to pantry to make afternoon snacks. This fried cauliflower is one of the afternoon snacks that left quite an impression in me.

Here is how I make it:

Get a nice cauliflower. That harmless cute little passenger on 11 o'clock is the reason why I do the vegetable cutting and cleaning up.


Trimming the leaves, and soaking them in water later on. The caterpillar was rescued by a very competent SAR team.

Rolling them in Tepung Bumbu Sas* flour mixed with water.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gulai Pakis, or Fern Curry

A fistful of ferns

Ferns are beautiful, aren't they? They are also delicious. Gulai pakis (curry fern) is a common dish in West Sumatra and it is usually served with ketupat (rice in rhombus-shaped coconut leaves). I often eat them for my after-Sunday-jogging meal. In my defense, I have burnt enough calorie, so I can have them for breakfast :).

I saw them on kecipir.com a few weeks ago, but was doubtful in placing a purchase. After several weeks had passed and they were still available in the market, I decided to give it a go. This must be destiny.

The edible parts are those that give a clear crack sound and easily broken down with hands. If the stalk is too old, it is difficult to break with hands, so just take out the leaves and discard the stalks. It took me quite some time to cut and clean them because...ferns are so cute!

Fiddlehead ferns, why are you so cute?

Once they are cut and clean (just soak them in a bowl of water and a pinch of salt, my usual procedure), it's pretty easy to cook these greens. M bought ready made curry paste and coconut milk in the market to speed things up. But of course, you can always make them from scratch. 

How we cook it:

(1) Cook the curry paste, set aside
(2) Cook the coconut milk, set aside
(3) Cook half part of coconut milk with the curry paste, stir slowly to avoid the coconut milk from breaking out. Then put in the ferns.
(4) When the ferns are tender enough, put in the rest of the coconut milk
(5) Add salt accordingly, and it's ready.


Gulai pakis at your service, Ma'am

You can also add shrimp/fish/meat or tempe or chili into the coconut milk to add more flavor. M and I decided to just go basic because that's how we prefer it. 

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 6, 2017

How To Fall In Love?

With friend at Pangalengan, West Java, in 2014.

I don't know the answer to that question, but this article in NYTimes probably can. Have a wonderful weekend ahead, sweeties.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Work Interview Stories

Not exactly a photo on work interview. Taken during the TRF-IFAD fellowship in February 2011.

I have forgotten my first work interview, I couldn't even remember which office it was. But I do remember the anxious feeling leading up to the interview time. I was too preoccupied with wearing the correct workwear and body language. As you could guess, I did not get the job. I did get better in the next work interviews, practice does make perfect.

This post is not about how to answer the work interview questions, but more about some work interview situation that could happen to you. The following are excerpts of colleagues' work interview stories, as they told me. The colleagues work in not-for-profit organizations/projects (which usually last for five years at the most), so their answers may not suitable for a profit organization's employee.

On Answering One of The Questions

Interviewer (I): Why do you want to resign from your current workplace? (Note from the editor: another type of this question is,"why do you want to apply this position?")
Job Applicant (JA): I applied this job before I got accepted at my current workplace. Also, my current workplace will be closed in the next 6 months. I would like to work in long term, I like it long.
--My comment: You said that last sentence to the male interviewer, and with a heavily-coded smile, didn't you? The comment needed no answer as my colleague grinned sheepishly.

On Dealing With Stress

I: So how do you deal with stress at workplace?
JA: I have this Whatsapp group called 'Lotte Discount Group', and the members often give updates on the latest discounted products. It has
I: How is that helping with the stress?
JA: Oh, the members are so funny, you should read our conversation yourself.
--And then I cut JA's story,"Wait a minute, you showed the interviewer the Whatsapp conversation?" I need to be panic here, because I am one of the group's members.

On Being Ignored By The Future Supervisor During The Interview

Situation: A colleague attended an interview invitation, in which the interview team consisted of one HR person and the future supervisor. While the HR person led the interview nicely, the future supervisor's mind seemed to be elsewhere as the said person brought laptop and a glass of coffee to the table, and didn't look into my colleague's face.
HR Person: Do you have any questions? (about to conclude the session)
JA: I just want to comment. I come here today before I respect the interview invitation. I allocated my precious time and spent money on transportation to come here. But I felt that my future supervisor did not respect it. I can not work with that kind of person. Thank you for the interview, but I don't think we can work together.
HR Person: I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your time. (he was surprised by my colleague's brave move)
--I was almost getting a heart attack upon hearing this story, particularly on my colleague's comment. But if you already have more than 10 years of work experience, you know which office/work environment that suit your personality. And you would do as my colleague did. I know I would.

Do you have any weird interview experience? 

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Peek Into The Parents' Heart

People say that your relationship with your parent will improve after you have children. It  would take perhaps another few more years before it happens to me (Amin yra, and this is just self-affirmation, by the way). But I'm taking notes from my friends who already have children.

A friend who has a teenager son told me that she was not ready to see her son growing up so fast. Her 11-year-old son likes One Piece comic, which has sexy-clad characters. So she would censor the comic book by blurring out the bikini and other sexy outfits before handing the book to him.

Another friend confessed that she was not ready to wean her child, because breastfeeding has created a strong bond between her and the child, and she was afraid that her relationship with her child would not be as close as it used to be.

Another friend said that she had a nostalgia upon seeing her four-year-old daughter going to kindergarten. She suddenly has the visions of her daughter leaving for college, getting married and leaving her forever. To this I just had to say: Girl, if anything goes well, your daughter would not leave your house for the next 13 years, so relax.

I would love to have my own space, but the Indonesian culture would not allow a single woman lives alone if her parents also live in the same city. So here I am, a 37-year-old single woman still living with my parents.



Even though I have become an adult, I still receive text messages from M asking my whereabouts if I haven't reached home by 9 p.m. I finish work at 6 p.m., but sometimes I'd like to unwind and spend a bit more time with my self or with friends before going home.

This text message would spiraled to us having arguments with each others. They think I should be home as soon as possible, while I think I'm allowed to have some free time to clear my head before going home. It's a never ending issue.

I was complaining about my parents' annoying habit of checking me every night to a friend during a car ride with Go-Car, a local online car rental applications, when the driver's mobilephone rang for the second time. The first phonecall was his wife calling.

"Sir, you can pick up the phone. Your wife must be worried. We won't make any sound," I told him.
"No, it's okay, This is just my parents," he said.
"Well, it's the more reasons to pick up because they won't stop calling until you answer the phone," I said.

The driver picked up the call using a hands-free device, and the first question that blared from the phone was,"Where are you, son?!" I had to muster the laugh. There I was complaining about being the only child who was closely monitored by parents, but the driver, who was the youngest of three, already married and had a kid (yes, it was a long drive that we could learn about the driver's family), also experienced the same thing.

From those experiences, I can see that the notes basically say: (1) No matter how old you are, you will forever be that newly born baby/child/toddler in your parents' eyes, and (2) Being a parent means you would never be ready to see your kids go away.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Coffee Culture Hits Local Neighborhoods

I've been seeing cafes mushrooming around my neighborhood, and as a recent coffee convert, I decided to give some of them a visit.

DP House Premium Coffee
This two-floor cafe is located on Jl. Bintara Jaya Raya. I often pass it on the way to the market or when I need to go to a nearby convenience store. But it was only a few months ago that I decided to enter its front door. And boy, what I found behind the door was a pleasant surprise.

Facade view

The cafe usually has monthly promo 

The cafe has its own brand of coffee bean, and you can buy it in various size. The barista can brew the coffee in various methods: mokapot, french press, vietnam drip, and even v60. The cafe often holds discount for their in-house coffee. Normal price for a cup of java in this cafe is between Rp 30.000-40.000, but if it is on discount usually between Rp 20.000-25.000, sometimes Rp 15.000. They also serve tea and chocolate drinks for the non-coffee drinking customers. Unfortunately the snacks available is so far only french fries and cassava fries. 

The cafe has a terrace area (for smoking patrons) and air-conditioned area (for non smokers), but my olfactory sense also detected residue of cigarette smoke from the second floor (I hope they can make improvement on this). It also has a stack of newspapers  and magazines for public reading, a nice playlist from local radio and a Fashion TV running mute on an LCD TV.

Bar area

You can also head to the second floor

You can enjoy the coffee with either the magazine or the TV. Or just bring a laptop and turn on the WiFi, which is sometime slow and hiccuping, but I've been going to this place to finish my report, so I don't need a fast Internet connection. The interior has been experiencing changes from time to time, it's either the owner has yet to find a concept for the cafe or he likes to experiment with interior design.

Iced coffee

The house blend, brewed with a V60 method.

Being a tried and true introvert, I also like that the barista never tries to open a conversation with me. He simply lets me enjoy the coffee and my laptop.

Sringopi
This cafe is located on Jl. Taman Malaka Selatan, in front of Darma Persada University. I've come here several times to have a quick meeting with my friends. Since its location is nearby an education institution, the cafe's main patrons are students, who can be pretty loud sometimes.

Interior

Besides serving coffee, Sringopi also offers tea, chocolate and foods, such as fried rice, french fries, rawon (dark meat soup) and other quick bites. For a group of eaters, this place has more to offer (hey, it rhymes). And the prices are student-friendly, between Rp 10.000 and Rp 35.000. Usually if I come to this place I go for the tea. However, once I ordered a pot of tea there, I ended up staying up until 2 a.m. Damn, is that some strong tea or what?

Hot chocolate

There is wi-fi in the cafe. Second floor is for smoking area, and this makes cigarette smokes a prevalent condition. Everytime I went here, I always came home with my clothes smelling like I just dipped in a barrel of tobacco liquid.

Isn't funny how little we sometimes know about our own neighborhood? Now I'm trying to look closer around my neighborhood and find other gems I could have missed all this time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Stir-fry Tatsoi

Ahoy, Tatsoi!

One of the reasons I buy something is curiosity. The first string that tugs my interest to this bundle of cute green leaves is the name: Tatsoi (Brassica narinosa). It sounds Japanese, so I googled it up. Et voila, I was correct. 

I ordered tatsoi via kecipir.com, and when the order arrived, I was a bit disappointed to see them. The color was too dark that I thought they were wilting. So I put them in the refrigerator, and one week later when I did a weekly refrigerator clean up to see if M forgot to cook something, I found them still in the same color and shape.

That's when I realized I've found an amazing vegetable. They are stronger than caisim (bok choy/Brassica rapa) or kailan (Brassica oleracea), and other Brassica varieties which can wilt when put in the fridge for a week.

They look great in flat lay composition.

They look even cuter when photographed from the side. Those are the ingredients I use for any vegetable stir-fry: shallot, garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce and the green leaves.

A true challenge in cooking green leaves, especially organic produce, is the cutting and cleaning process, because you may find some residents on them (bugs, caterpillars, spiders, you name it).

Cutting and cleaning tatsoi. I dip them in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt.

The easiest way to cook green leaves is stir frying them. Just heat up sesame oil and chopped garlic, put in the leaves and oyster sauce, and a few minutes later, you have it.

The taste is similar to caisim and kailan, they are families after all. I will definitely repurchase if they are available in the market.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Visit To An Organic Farm And An Attempt At Organic Produce Trade

Happy Hijriyah New Year, if you're celebrating, that is.

One of the New Year's resolutions that has been returning in my list then and now is eating healthy. Let's see if I can do better on this in the current year.

In my previous workplace, I had colleagues who were into organic vegetable and other hipster foods. They sort of influenced me to join the eating healthy movement. But organic vegetables cost a lot, so we would scour Lotte supermarket to find discounted produces and set a weekly meal plan. 

One day, one of them posted a photo in Instagram about an online marketplace for organic produce called kecipir.com. I was intrigued so I placed an order to see how it went. The shopping procedure is pretty easy: (1) log in to the web, (2) choose the agent's location to pick up the produce, (3) start shopping, (4) check out and choose payment method, either greencash (a kind of virtual account) or bank transfer (only for BCA or Bank Mandiri, at the moment), (5) then a few days later, a driver will deliver those produces to the chosen agents and customers can choose to pick up the produces themselves or requested the produces to be sent by GrabExpress.

On the first order experience, the driver delivered the produces to my house because the agent I chose had moved out of the area. The driver then suggested that I became an agent because they still need more agents. I thought: why not? So I registered at the web and received the invitation to their farm for agent induction. The visit took place last month, I've just got the time to wrap things up.

The farm is located in Bogor area. The new agent candidates met up with the driver in Cilandak Town Square (Citos) at 7.30 a.m. and we headed together to the farm. As a Bekasi resident, I had to leave home at 5.30 a.m. to reach Citos. 

In the farm, the guys told us how they started the business that started as a way to help local organic farmers getting a fair price and how we could help contribute to the cause. They also explained the benefit of consuming organic produces for your health. Then we had a tour around to see how they worked in the farm.

A partial aerial view of the farm. 

First stop: the nursery

They wrap the seedlings in banana leaves to reduce the usage of plastic polybags. They just bury the whole package into the soil because the leaves will disintegrate with nature.

A variety of seeds.

They told us how they got the seeds from the plants and the fruits. It sounded easy that I made a mental note to try the tips at home.


They explained that to reduce pest problems, they planted the plants that produce fruit and spices side by side. Also, they don't use chemical fertilizer, they make it themselves.

The bio slurry area


They feed the goats with the organic produce, then use the poo for biogas.

They also showed the farm-scale biogas plant, made from the goats' poo. They invested Rp 20 million to build the system, but once it has run, they no longer need to buy gas for the kitchen activity. Oh dear, I really can't run away from all these renewable energy and climate change thingy.

Then they allowed us to harvest cherry tomatoes and eggplants. They also encouraged us to eat the tomatoes directly because organic fruits are safe to consume, just a little dirt and dust won't give you stomachache.



Kecipir, or winged bean, or Psophocarpus tetragonolobus

Eggplant

Cherry tomatoes

Oyong, or angled gourd, or Luffa acutangula


I'm the girl with the biggest smile and holding the biggest eggplant (ha!).

If you're living in West Bekasi and need organic produces, just look up for an agent in the Bintara Jaya area, that person will be me hehehe. I will most likely post my attempts at cooking organic vegetables in the future, so stay tune :).

All photos with me in the frames are from kecipir.com, the rest are mine. Please credit accordingly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Legendary Noodle Joints In Tebet

When discussing about food in Tebet, a friend who resided in the area during her childhood commented that most, if not all, newly established eateries in Tebet have the standard taste. She thought that it was because the market in Tebet mostly are students, which have low budget, resulting in low quality food. However, she added, there are old eateries that maintain good quality, such as the following noodle joints.

Bakmi Berdikari
Location: Jl. Tebet Timur Dalam Raya No. 41


Established since 1978, this place is the most expensive of all noodle eateries mentioned in this post. I had to mention about the price in the beginning, because it's what struck me in the first place upon opening the menu book.

This place has social media accounts in FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram. It even has a website at www.bakmiberdikari.com, which features photos of the dishes and the prices.


I went here when I was feeling a bit of cold. So I ordered Mie Tom Yum (Rp 50.000). It came with udon as the noodle. Oh no, I'm not a fan of udon. The tom yum soup was good, though. Will probably try another dish from this restaurant, after the pay day, that is...

Mie Sanjaya
Location: Jl. Tebet Timur Dalam 2 No. 51B

My friend said this place has been around for around 20 years as she remembered visiting this place with her childhood friends. She said that her father used to always order the same dish: bakmi pangsit kuah (noodle with wonton soup). I decided to try a different dish when I came to this place.

Mie ayam bakso jamur (chicken noodle with meatballs and mushroom) and a glass of coconut water. It's all homemade, because the shape of the noodle, the taste of meatball and fried wonton are one of the kind.

The man behind the glass cupboard is the cook. He is quite talkative and friendly.

The menu on one of the walls.

Mie Yunus
Location: Jl. Tebet Barat Dalam VIIID, next to Pasar Tebet Barat

Its owner, Pak Yunus, started selling noodle in 1984. Singers Yuni Shara and Kris Dayanti were said to be frequent customers in the 1990s.

The facade

Mie ayam biasa (ordinary chicken noodle), only Rp 15.000

Do you have a favorite noodle place in Tebet? Do share in the comment box :).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

East Sumba: Part 3 - The Reasons to Visit Sumba

Do not let my previous post discourages you to visit Sumba. Of course, there are many reasons on why you should visit Sumba. Here are just two of them... :)

The Scenery

No, I didn't get to see the Nihiwatu Resort, which is lauded as Indonesia's (or is it the world's?) most beautiful resort with private beaches. But I got to see many other beaches, and they are also very lovely to look at.

Lailunggi beach

Tawui beach. We have the beach all for ourselves :)

Rolling stone gathers no moss, they say. Well, rolling people results in blurry photos. Stay still, soak up the beauty of the night sky, and you'll get beautiful photos :P

Let's go to the place where the sea and the hills meet

Kakaha beach

The People

Some of the conversation I had with the local people were worth to keep as life advice. For example, a conversation with the wife of a village chief, also called as Mama Desa (the village mom) went like this:

Me: Mama, you still look young and beautiful 
Mama Desa (MD): Thank you, Ibu, but I'm 42 years old already.
Me: Ah, we are only five years apart, Mama
MD: Are you married, Ibu?
Me: Not yet, Mama
MD: It's much better to be single. If you're feeling cold, you can just put on more blankets.
Me: Ehhh, why did you say that, Mama?
MD: Sumbanese women have to take care of children, cattle and men. It's a tough life for married women.


On another occasion, I met with a woman and had a conversation that went like this:

Me: Hello Mama, are you waiting for your husband to pick you up?
Woman: I'm waiting for a young man to pick me up.
Me: Oh?
Woman: Every marriage has its own rule. Mine is different with the others.

OMG, such life wisdom imparted by real life Oprahs. I came back from Sumba a changed woman. Now excuse me, I need to stock up on blankets :D

Monday, August 28, 2017

East Sumba: Part 2 - The Tough Part About Living in East Sumba's Remote Villages

After I returned from Sumba island, I had many friends asking,"What is life like there?" To this question, I'd have to say,"Tough." Some of them, who have known me very well, were a bit taken aback upon hearing me saying it as I don't complain much. Here are some reasons...

Clean water and proper sanitation are scarce

Of five target villages, only two have a pipe network that delivers clean water to homes (or perhaps only homes of village chiefs? Because that was where I slept). I had to bathe in a river in one of the villages and had to take water from the water well in the other two villages.

Also, as a hijabi, I had a hard time when nature called. Four-walled toilet? Why bother building one? You have the whole backyard for the purpose. That is probably what is in the mind of most local  people. Argh.   


Here is me after taking a bath in a river. The water looks still, but it is actually flowing, albeit rather slowly.

Tips to bathe in a river for hijabi (or here's how I did it):
(a) Tie two ends of a sarong around your neck and you will end up wearing a halter-lookalike dress
(b) Take off your other clothes and underwear, but leave the sarong on
(b) Pour water all over yourself with gayung (small bowl with handle) and take a bath as fast as you can (yep, you're doing it in the sarong, there is no way you take a bath naked in the river, it's really open air)
(c) Throw an oversized shirt/jacket and hijab, and you're ready to roll

In one village, as boys and girls had to take bath in turns, the girls decided to take bath after 6 a.m. after the sun was up because...what if there was snakes lurking in the water and we didn't see them as it was too dark? But the funny thing was, we found the boys standing on the river banks with a black face.

"Have you guys taken a bath yet? Now it's our turn," we said.
"Errr not yet. We have just looked up for the manual on how to do that," one of the boys answered.
"Girls, could you please go away? We can't take a bath if you're still there," another boy said.

What we didn't know was there was a boy going naked in the river. Upon seeing our car coming, he hid in the bushes and warned the other boys,"The lionesses coming!" We heard the scream, but we failed seeing that boy. Hahaha.

With lack of proper bathroom, I've been growing a thick skin to ask permission to use the local people when I see one. Most of the time, the people kindly give permission.

A typical toilet in the villages is built by zincalume sheets and a piece of fabric that acts as the door. And it is located in the middle of a vegetable patch. 


Inside the toilet. You just have to use this toilet with lots of imagination, wild guesses and skillful maneuver.

No electricity

As my project is all about bringing electricity to the villages, the lack of electricity is evident from the beginning. Only rich people or village chiefs have electricity, through diesel-powered generator set or cheap solar panel.

The lack of electricity was not really a big problem as I don't need bedroom lighting. However, I have the habit of waking up at 5 a.m. to pee and it was still dark outside. Sometimes I had to wait until the sun is up, usually around 6 a.m., to pee.

Why didn't I just go to the toilet, I heard you ask. Well, the toilet is usually located far away from the main house. What if I accidentally stepped on a snake or other unknown venomous animals?

I don't need electricity to recharge my mobilephone because...

Only one mobilephone provider available

And I don't use that provider. So I turned off my mobilephone most of the time. How do other people contacted me? Well, I traveled with a group of colleagues, who use that particular provider. But honestly, I enjoy going off-grid most of the time, so it was not a big problem.

However, I went to Sumba island on a one-way ticket and I had to coordinate with the team on the field on their schedule for flying home and then asked the team at the Jakarta office to book me a ticket, which they would send via email. But how would I check email if I couldn't even have any signal.

Now, that was a problem. Everything turned out well, though, alhamdulillah. We went back to Waingapu one day before the designated flight, and all emails/Whatsapp messages, including an email containing my ticket home, came into my mobilephone like a gigantic tidal wave.

Trivia: if you use "the provider" and turn on your mobilephone in the five target villages, only Praiwitu that has the Western Indonesian Time (WIB). This is because the base transceiver station near the village is set into WIB, instead of Central Indonesian Time (WITA).

No breakfast culture and irregular meal time

This is probably the toughest thing for me to adapt. The local people usually drink a glass of coffee for breakfast, go to the paddy field/work in offices, back for lunch at 1-2 p.m., do other things, and close the day by eating dinner at around 8-11 p.m. Yep, you read it right, I once had dinner at 11 p.m. I forced myself to eat, because breakfast was an uncertainty.

Since there is no electricity (and no refrigerators), people can not keep food for too long. Everything is freshly prepared. But on the other hand, no electricity means longer time to prepare food. We have to get water from the well/river/nearest water spring, collect wood to boil water/cook, and...kill the animal.

(insert Edavard Munch's Scream painting emoji here)

Yep, we had to kill the animal because the local people understood that while they are Protestant, we were Muslims, who have different rules of diet. Now the problem is, none of us works as a butcher. So it has been quite a traumatic experience, for some of us who play the role as butchers.

Usually the local people started gathering the animals that would go to death row near dusk time. Killing, pulling out the fur/skin off the animals, cutting the meat, and cooking would take around 2-3 hours.

Friday, August 25, 2017

East Sumba: Part 1 - The Trip


Hello, sweeties! I'm back from the rapid assessment and awareness raising event on solar panel electrification program in five villages in East Sumba. It was my first trip to Sumba Island, one of the outer islands of Indonesia, and I must say that the experience was quite mind-blowing.

I've been to Flores Island and Timor Island, I even experienced an emergency landing in West Sumba's Tambolaka airport, but those trips didn't prepare me for this East Sumba visit. It was more than just the majestic view, but also its cultural values.

I landed in East Sumba's Umbu Mehang Kunda airport with my colleagues. We used Citilink (HLP-DPS) and Nam Air (DPS-WGP), with a night transit in Bali. There is another airline offering flights to Umbu Mehang Kunda airport, but the office already had bad experiences with that particular airlines, so we went with the other one.

After dealing with car rental and other preparation, we left Waingapu and went to the villages on the southern coast line of East Sumba. There are several routes, but we chose the one that passes Tanarara village. As we moved to the south, the view changes from dry and dusty savanna to red soil to green pastures. Sometimes we saw wild sandalwood pony, a local horse breed named after sandalwood.

video


video
Potable water source in Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park

We experienced two incidents during the trip, and somehow coffee is involved. How, I hear you ask? First, the ball joint fell apart. It happened just a few kilometers after we left Kananggar village, which has a small shop selling coffee. One of us wanted to sample the coffee there, but the majority of us opted out. Then the incident took place and we had to return to the village with the help of the driver's relatives (who live in the village). A cup of coffee was no longer a choice, it's a must.

The kind of roads we went through. Up and down, straight and circling, all the way. And I got the whole 3-D experience because I sat on the front seat

This photo was taken when the ball joint fell apart.

The incident allowed us to have a more intimate look to the daily life. We chatted with the home owners, and found that they studied in Satya Wacana Christian University in Salatiga, Central Java. The husband now works as a farmer, while the wife is a stay at home mom. They both took Law and found that there was not much to do in the village with their degree.

After an hour or so chatting, the subject moved to wedding ceremony. I think it all started when a boar fumbled along our legs. I was startled to see such big animal, but the wife said there was another one bigger in the stall, which was kept for wedding proposal ceremony.

The wife (my bad, I forgot to ask her name!) said that during the proposal, the groom family comes to the bride's house and negotiates on the dowry, which usually consists of horned boars, oxen, buffaloes and horses. The number of the animals depends on the negotiation, which can last for days.

During the first meeting of both families, the groom gives mamuli, a set of pendant and chain representing female and male organs, as a sign of goodwill. There are more family meetings after the first one, and each meeting requires even more dowry. A Sumba guy talked to his friend (so I overheard) that he still needed to buy 15 more animals to complete the dowry and his oldest kid is already in primary school!

There are many cases of domestic violence in the area because the husbands think they have spent so much for their wives, so they can treat the wives the way they like it. The women also do most of the household chores: cooking, getting water from spring/well/river, getting wood for the fire in the kitchen, washing clothes, etc.

While many of them acknowledge that the traditions burden them, they keep saying that the traditions are good and actually protect the women because if the husbands mistreat the wives, the women's family can step in and intervene. In some cases, the women's family can return the dowry and bring back the women to the family's home.



A set of mamuli

But I digress, where was I? Ah yes, the second car incident happened when we left Tandula Jangga village. And how did coffee play a role in it?

We had been drinking coffee in the past few days and it started to take a toll on our stomach. So on that fateful morning, I made the team cereal drink. One person who is a coffee addict was not happy with the drink. I told him that we'd get a cup of coffee in the next village. But guess what, the host served him tea! He was upset that he couldn't get his caffeine fix, then suddenly, the one of the tires just blew up. So again, we had to stop and get a cup of coffee while the driver changed the tire.

That was my boss changing the tire, and yes we are evil employees. Ah, the advantage of being the only woman in a road trip.

Sorry I was a bit late in posting this. Drafting a long blog post takes up more time than posting a photo and two paragraphs of caption in Instagram, but I've committed to compile all experience here, so please bear with me.

In the mean time, if you want to keep up with my daily snapshots, you can check @tasrianti. Feel free to follow and drop comments (nice ones, please).