Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some photos!

I know I keep it pretty dry here in Thought Porridge.  So many words, no images.  Occasionally, a video with lots of words and no images.  I don't own a camera, ergo I didn't bring a camera to Indonesia.  I generally don't like carrying cameras, because they make me feel pressured to record everything that happens, and then I start thinking about whether there's any artistic merit to the photographs, which makes me hesitant to take them, and then I'm thinking about taking photos instead of thinking about whatever it is I'm looking at, and then everything quickly turns to a poopy mess in my head.  In principle, I just dislike the whole "we have to have something to remember this by" mentality.  If you let an event truly shape you, then you are the record of that experience.  It leaves a mark on you.  Plus, photos are frames of reality, and frames don't reflect reality if there is no context.  

But, of course, there are plenty of times that I regret not having photos of certain events.  I do have some pictures of stuff that has happened here.  Either I took them myself while borrowing a friend's camera or I got copies of a friend's pictures.  So, without further ado, a small and random collection of photos that I like:


Left to right: Me, Dan, Cody.  Cody and I had gone shopping for clothes at the same time, and we decided to buy the same shirt in different colors.  That kind of shirt is called baju koko.  The hats are variously called peci, kopiah, or songkok.  The style we're rocking is usually called by the first or second of those terms.  A songkok looks a bit different, as I understand it.  Of course, Dan steals the show in this pic, because he's wearing someone else's peci, and it's way too small for his head.  Also, he's doing his best impression of a smile (a strangely foreign expression to him when there are cameras nearby).  We were on our way to dinner at the mayor of Batu's place.  Cody and I knew everyone else would be wearing batik, so we decided to one-up them all by wearing baju koko.  It was a smashing success.  Some of our cultural facilitators told us that we looked like we were ready to get married (not to each other, duh).


This photo was in my village's video.  As you should know by now, Muslims are supposed to pray five times each day, and the first prayer (solat fajr) is around 4:30 in the morning--some ten to fifteen minutes before sunrise.  One morning I wanted to get photographs and footage of this prayer.  Incidentally, it was a good way to stop me being so angry at the mushollah that would broadcast the call to prayer and keep me awake for half an hour every morning.  Just going to the mushollah and meeting the people, watching their prayers, made me a bit more tolerant than I had been.  Anyway, Muslims pray differently than Christians.  The prayers are prescribed, and there are very specific positions one must make.  My favorite physical motion with regard to Muslim prayer is how they raise their hands in front of their faces and whisper into the hands.  Then they cover their faces with the hands, making a downward wiping motion, as if they are washing away some impurity.  I like the idea of whispering to God behind your hands.  It's so personal.

U mad?

Look at those shirts!!  On the left is Cody, on the right is Mawan.  I just love the shirts.  Stylin' so hard.  Those are batik, and Cody's looks like silk.  These two were the stylinest bros at our swearing-in ceremony.  Anyone who knows me would agree that I'm not very fashion-conscious (putting it kindly), but you can more or less sum up my taste as: I like things that are simple and elegant.  I never go for those crazy shirts with wild patterns and dragons and meaningless nonsense written all over the place.  But things are different here.  There is some wild, wild stuff, and I have become a fan.  Also, Mawan, despite being closer to five feet than six, is awesome at soccer.

Masters of the Universe

This is from my training host family's house.  This is how some men like to hang out in the evenings.  They're wearing sarongs, not skirts.  Sarongs are manly and multifunctional.  Note how they're all looking relaxed, all smiling, all wearing peci hats, and (all?) smoking cigarettes.  This is what it means to be a man in Indonesia.  The fellow in the blue jacket usually does the morning call to prayer and therefore was responsible for a lot of lost sleep over the course of training.  But he's a nice guy, of course.  Usually if the men all come over, the wife/mother of the house will serve coffee to all of them, set down makanan ringan (light food/snacks) on the table, and stick to the background.  Being social with the neighbors--dropping by, sitting down, chatting, smoking--is one of the most important social aspects of living in an Indonesian village.  My host father is the one on the left.

>::Insert The Lonely Island Reference Here::<

This photo is from a trip we took in the third or fifth week of training to Sempu Island, just off the south coast of Java.  It's a relatively popular little spot for people to go to the beach.  They're painted in lovely colors, which, however, does not offset how rickety they look.  The engines are rarely covered, so you could be sitting on the deck with this motor going insane next to you, wondering what would happen if some screw came loose or you lost your balance and fell into the furious pumping of an iron piston.  Additionally, sights such as the following do little to inspire confidence in these noble vessels' seaworthiness:

She don't look like much, but she'll get you there!

 Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

As you can see, on that day we did all make it to the beach.  It was nothing like a beach in Florida.  Later on, some of us tried to hike across the island to a different beach, but were thwarted by mud like you could never believe without seeing.  It had rained for several hours earlier that day, so the hiking trail was completely wrecked, and fifteen intrepid PCTs were defeated by the elements.  But the water was fun to play in.

Left to Right: Ahmad, Pak Rodli, Zarohtul, Bu Siti

These are the main members of my training host family.  There was also a 19-year-old named Wahyu, but he wasn't around that much.  These four were my family for ten weeks, and I've visited them a couple times since moving away from that village.  Getting the kids to sit still was a bit difficult, and I had to remind them to smile for the picture.  Indonesians are wonderfully smiley people in everyday life, but when you get them to pose for a picture, they instinctively put on neutral expressions.  I do not yet know the reason for this.

Future Scholar

I have no particular connection to this boy or picture, but it was taken in my training village.  The canal right there looks real nice, but you have to imagine that a lot of people poo in it and throw their garbage directly in it.  The little kid is probably about five years old, but even at that age kids have to wear uniforms.  I don't know of any students anywhere in Indonesia who don't wear uniforms to school. 

The drive to work

This isn't really my drive to work.  But it was one of the views on the way to our practicum school, where we taught for three weeks during pre-service training.  We happened to live in a very beautiful part of the province.  The school itself had spectacular mountains right outside the window.  Because that area of is sort of high-elevation and cooler than most of its surroundings, there are many more crops grown.  Not to poo-poo my current site, but the spot where we did training was definitely more beautiful if we're talking scenery. 

The stuff of life

This is what rice looks like when it's still being grown, before being harvested.  Rice is king.  When it's fully grown and ready to harvest, the plant is this lovely golden color that contrasts pleasingly with the lush green of most of the vegetation around here.  Workers take knives and cut the stalks in whole fields, after which the rice is threshed (i.e. bundles are taken and beaten against this wooden thing so that the grains fall down onto a tarp) and the grains are collected for hulling/husking.  Hulling/husking is getting the rice out of its little husk.  I haven't seen how this is done.  As you can imagine, there are zillions of rice fields around here, as rice is eaten three times a day by just about everyone in this country of 240 million. 

Hope you enjoyed the random pics!

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