The past few days have been a total sensory overload: lots of Bahasa Indonesia class, exploring Jogja, and meeting new people. We’re staying at Wisma Universitas Sanata Dharma, which literally means Sanata Dharma University Hotel (it’s student housing), 2 blocks from the building where we have class, and quite close to a mosque as well. The call to prayer is like clockwork: every morning at about 4:30 the sounds of the muezzin fill the house, followed by two warring roosters determined not to be outdone by the call to prayer. The contrast between the beauty of the prayers and the roosters is astounding (especially considering my diehard bird affinity!).
Yesterday our class went to Pasar Bring Hardjo (the traditional market) and Mirota Batik (the Batik market) to practice conversation and bartering. The vast majority of vendors and shoppers were patient and friendly with us, and many would proclaim “Barak Obama!” as soon as they heard someone speak English. A man approached Bridget and said he was Obama’s brother, and Bridget humored him by responding “then we’re related!” At first, I thought the connection was based purely on skin color, but the proclamation wasn’t solely directed toward her; we were all greeted by chanting Obama supporters. We later concluded that this allegiance was due at least in part to the affinity Indonesians feel toward the President as someone who spent a substantial amount of his childhood in Indonesia.
That night, we had a discussion with Hasan, a friend of Termana’s and PhD candidate in Anthropology about Islam Jawa (Javanese Islam). Hasan spoke about the politics of colonialism in Indonesia as they relate to the spread of Islam and other religious movements throughout the country. By the end of our talk, the conversation had come full- circle and we were once again discussing current politics, the US and Western imperialism, and Obama.
I’m sure there’s lots I’m forgetting, but today was a very full day and I have to belajar PR (study the homework). Selamat malam!
PS: Pictures to come later today!