Friday, September 18, 2009

past two weeks in bandung

disclaimer: if i have not already mentioned, the views on this blogsite are those of my own and my only. they do not represent Fulbright nor AMINEF. :)
i am going to break up this entry into multiple parts because a lot has happened in the past few weeks.

first will be orientation stuff, then some cultural insight revealed through the indonesian language, then angklung show, local flea market visit, eid al-fitr then the dutch and japanese bunkers /waterfall.


the past two weeks we have had a continuation of orientation in bandung. each morning we have breakfast from 7am to 8am and then class starts at 8am. 8am to 10am is spent diligently studying bahasa (bahasa means language in indonesian. it means language in hindi, too. cool) indonesia. by diligently studying, i mean writing ridiculous stories in indonesian, singing songs, and feeling as if we were all in fifth grade again.

10am to noon is spent learning about various teaching methods, styles, teaching english as a second language theory, and practicing playing the role of teacher.

noon to 1 is lunch.

1pm to 2 pm is more bahasa indonesia. this part tends to have more of a cultural focus. 2pm to 4:30 pm is more teaching methods.

our bahasa indonesia teachers try to be dynamic and are very good at creating an energetic learning atmosphere. i have really enjoyed trying to learn the language and really try to use indonesian as often as i can. our english teaching teachers are a little less dynami
c and the class tends to drag on at times. for example, today, our table (kerry, raj, jimmy, and paul) drew pictures of prawns from district 9, informed me i was a prawn, and quarantined my desk with paper.

by the time class is done around 4:30, everyone is slap-happy and slightly drunk from the artificial indoor lighting we have been absorbing throughout the day. sometimes we go out to explore markets or the many malls that are in this city. sometimes we just kick it at the novotel.

bahasa indonesia:
indonesian became the official language of indonesia after the archipelago achieved independence in 1945; however, it has been spoken in this area for centuries. it has malay origin but i have been finding borrowings from portugese, sanskrit, and arabic--which is really cool.

indonesian is agglutinating like many of the bantu languages spoken in africa. this means that it the language puts many morphemes together to form words. an example of a morpheme in
english is -s. a morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language. so for instance, the morpheme -s in english means plural when you add it to the end of a noun.

verbs in indonesian are not marked for tense (which is one reason why it is so easy to pick up indonesian) nor are they inflected for person or number. indonesian marks tense by using adverbs such as 'kemarin' which = 'yesterday.'

indonesian did not have a word for privacy until it was recently borrowed from english; they use the word 'pribadi'. this one finding offers very interesting cultural insight. indonesians are very community orientated; independence does not seem to be a cultural value, but more a western
phenomenon. the whole concept of needing "a room of one's own" doesnt really translate here.

there is also a different word for love when it comes to a significant other-- and it can only be used for a lover.

'cinta' is the verb that is used for a lover.
'sayang' is the verb that is used to indicate love for parents, things, or any other person.

i wonder if that means that the kind of love you have with a lover can never be synonymous to the kind of love you can have for icecream. maybe, but i have tasted some amazing icecream in my life.

angklung show!:

two saturdays ago, the 12th of september, around twenty of us boarded a bus to a center that was dedicated to the teaching of angklung. the center was surrounded by bamboo, reeds, and other sprightly plants. an angklung is an indonesian instrument made of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. it is held by one hand and shaken with another to create a resonant pitch.

so we all went into the seating area and got ready for the show to begin
. michael and i went to sit in the front row. at the back of the stage was a gamelan, a traditional indonesian ensemble that consisted of drums and gongs and xylophones. in front of the gamelan was a puppet show stage where good fought evil. the puppets moved to the music created by the gamelan.

after the initial puppet show, children stated filing in the center stage and started to dance. each had his or her own anklung. two older kids came out with a throne held high above them. on the throne, a boy of seven or eight waved to us and smiled shyly.

we then saw a traditional dance from two ten year old beauties. here is one of them.

at the end, some children ran out and a particularly bubbly girl grabbed my fingers. her name was lia. i was in heaven. we danced to the music that the gamelan played and she taught me a few steps. she asked if i was 'orang indian' (a person from india) and i said i told her 'tidak, orang american.' she giggled infectiously, as if i was trying to trick her and asked again where i was from. we then danced around in a train formation and i got to tickle her back. hearing her laugh made me feel like i was the luckiest person in the world.

local flea market/ explorations in the city on sunday:

on sunday the thirteenth, a few of us went on an expedition of sorts to check out a local flea market that we had seen. we were also on a mission to find manggis, a delicious delectable exotic fruit with the texture of peace and the taste of fabulous.

the flea market appeared to be a controlled form of chaos. there were bright colors of shirts, hats, underwear, and various plastic items strewn across the makeshift stalls. it seemed to be a sunday market targeted towards the locals. trash littered the grass and the hum of bargaining and negotiating in indonesian buzzed around us. i wasnt as much of an excitement to people as john, katie, or aaron were (since they are white and i am not). i still did get stared at, but the looks i received werent quite as quizzical.

after a while of walking through the stalls, we ventured off to find a fruit and vegetable market. after a twenty minute walk in the afternoon sun, we found the market on the kiri (left) side of the road. we crossed the street in typical indonesian fashion. how does this occur?

1) you put your palm facing the car coming towards you
2)you try to stare the driver down and then move on towards the next motorbikes or cars
3)shuffle across the road frogger style while continuously holding your palm out
4)run to safety when youre almost to the other side

anyways, so this next market was a little overwhelming.

not only were there fresh vegetables and fruits, but there were fresh whole fish swimming in buckets that you could choose to kill, fresh cow thighs hanging from the ceilings, and a variety of chicken legs and fish eggs on display. if the visual itself wasnt harsh enough, the acrid smell of rotting meat was heavy in the air. raj and i couldnt make it all the way through and had to run out half way. it was a cultural experience since many people here don't buy meat in prepackaged containers, but it was definitely hard to come face to face with death dangling from the ceiling.

we then went to super giant, a huge supermarket to look for manggis since we couldnt find any at the outdoor market. here, they were chopping the heads off of living fish and then scaling them. katie was astonished and equally horrified that this is the way fish are killed. i told her it was probably one of the most humane ways to do it. it always surprises me when people that eat meat remove death and killing from their construction of how their food exists. we then spent a good twenty minutes in the coffee section looking for kopi luwar, the coveted fancy shamancy coffee that one must buy whilst here. its supposed to be like $100 u.s. dollars a pound and grown on java and sumatra. we found some stuff that said luwar on it that was two u.s. bucks...but we couldnt translate the indonesian on the package to see whether it was legit or not. we bought it anyway, figuring, why not?
we got back to the hotel in an ankot, which is the indonesian version of a mini bus, where we happily tried our kopi luar and snake fruit.

eid al fitri:
saturday night, the 19th of september was the night before eid al-fitri. graham, kerry, and i decided to spend the saturday afternoon walking around by chiwalk. this road has bigger than life statues of rambo, alladin, and other superheros looming from the stores. i also had a coffee from starbucks that i guiltily enjoyed and bought a baller hat.

international starbucks.

we found a cute hut-like restaurant to eat in and ricky met up with us. when we got back to the hotel, it was about seven p.m. and already fireworks had started flashing in the sky. we walked into the circle k, which is located directly across from our hotel and were thrilled to find that the glass encasing the beer section was no longer covered up with brown paper. we grabbed a few bintangs and headed to out hangout on the second floor balcony. at around eight o clock, the takbir started.the moon lit up the city as the prayer of praising allah was echoed throughout the city on loudspeakers. bursts of red, green, and yellow instantaneously decorated the sky and instantaneously faded throughout the night. the energy in the city was palpable, and it felt sacred simply to be alive.

we headed to bed around 1 am or so but the takbir continued until the first azan of eid at four a.m.

the next morning in the hotel at breakfast, there were SO many more people there..haha. everyone was dressed in their finest celebrating with their families.

Dutch and Japanese bunkers from WWII:

besides outlet shopping in bandung, there are dutch and japanese bunkers from world war II that were just dying to be explored. so, after breakfast on eid, some of us headed towards the hills.

goa belanda (dutch cave) and goa jepang (japanese cave) are hidden in the hills of bandung. left over from world war II, these caves are living testaments of history. the japanese cave was used as a defense shelter from the attacks of the allied forces during the war. it was built using forced indonesian labor; hundreds of indonesians died digging into the hills to construct the caves.

walking around in the caves with a flashlight was intense. touching the walls, smelling the musty rocks, and climbing around in the bunkers briefly arrested my thoughts. i couldnt believe actual soldiers were seeking protection within the walls of this very enclave less than a hundred years ago.

we then hiked from the mysterious caves to a waterfall where local food was being sold. here, i had the best corn on the cob of my life. i sprawled out on the grass and stared up at the sky while the sound of the waterfall overtook my senses.

we found a praying mantis and had fun with him for a while and then on the way back down, kerry and i rented a motorcycle and got a ride down the hill. it was beautiful to ride down the hills on the back of a motorcycle watching the rices paddies fly by. i hope i have many more of those trips.

air terjun. (waterfall)

clearly pondering the meaning of rice paddies.

in the japanese cave.

come visit me.

sayang dan senang. (love and happiness)

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