Heart of Asia

With only a week and a half left in Asia, I’m feeling a bit reflective. My emotions are a mix of..

Boredom. It’s finals week and I’m not teaching, rather just staring at students sitting exams, which is mind numbing.
Sensitivity. Students are showering me with gifts, conversations in the staff room are awkward. I have no idea how to respond to week-early goodbyes.
Excitement. It’s snowing in Portland and Seth sends me a picture of my boots and I can hardly contain my excitement to be home enjoying the season with family. My whole family. Together.
Worry. Repatriation won’t be easy. And like I mentioned earlier, we’ll be jumping feet first into the holiday season. This is coming from 2 years of living in an Islamic third world country and we are going to be shocked. I know it.

This video made me smile. I like to reflect on how much we’ve seen and experienced here. But I also want to recognize how much more there is. In Indonesia. In Asia. In the world.

But I’ll leave that for later.

I’m ready to go home.

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Totem

I really love this photo series Totem by Alain Delorme. The images are of Shanghai migrant workers carrying large loads of goods. The images are photoshopped to exaggerate the loads and to illustrate the idea of what “Made in China” could and should mean when reflected upon. So brilliant.

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p.s.

These may be exaggerated, but I can vouch experience driving behind tiny trucks with loads 4x their size on the freeway around Asia.

It’s terrifying.

Rice cooker

So purchasing a rice cooker upon our arrival in Bogor was a first for us. We had heard wonderful things about rice cookers, but really only knew about its ability to cook perfect rice.

Lo and behold its true magic. This baby not only can steam vegetables and reheat lasagna… But it bakes bread!!

I was eyeing some overripe bananas on the table this evening and got the urge to make bread with them. But how? I don’t have an oven. However I did remember once seeing a recipe for baking bread in a rice cooker. I did a little research and found this specific banana bread recipe and thought sure, what the hell, let’s give it a try.

My rice cooker isn’t as sophisticated as hers and I had to keep trying to reset it to keep it from switching to the warm setting. My cook time was also about half the time, only 45 minutes. I also produced half the bread?

Regardless, our experiment worked! And it is delicious!

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You know you’ve lived in Indonesia for 8 months when…

• You have to eat a serving of rice with a meal in order to feel full, regardless of how much other food you have already eaten.
• You learn to read Bahasa text speak such as “Ia bu ga apa2” meaning “yeah miss, it’s not anything.”
• The call to prayer at 4:00 am no longer wakes you up. Rather it becomes a nice reminder throughout the day to eat, break or quit work.
• You begin to start thinking in Bahasa, and certain terms like “sudah” meaning “already” come naturally.
• Your rescued street cat gets knocked up.
• You instinctively know when you need to get more pulsa.
• You can estimate how long, in hours, it will take to go 5 km in Jakarta traffic.
• You can tell how much rain you will be flooded with by the wind speed.
• You can accurately gauge the reliability of an ojek and his machine in less than one second.
• You order a quarter of your groceries (at a quarter of the price) from the market down the street, who will deliver them in less than 5 minutes.
• Having a maid (pembantu) in the house no longer feels strange, but comfortable.
• You know how to evaluate pembantus on a 4 dimensional scale: reliability, level of care, skills and salary and can adequately do so in 15 minutes.
• You have paid over $100 for good Mexican food and would do it again.
• You finally get used to paying bills in person or at the ATM.
• You are no longer surprised someone wants to take your picture. And sometimes, if you’re in a good mood, you’ll pose to make them laugh.
• You wear long sleeves in 80-90 degree heat.
• Your 4 year old makes her barbies speak with a heavy Indonesian accent and sing in Bahasa.
• If there’s not a price tag, you assume the price is negotiable.
• You have a chance to return home to visit and question if you’re ready to do so.
• You miss your friends to a degree you never could have imagined and stare at pictures of their babies, daydreaming of when you’ll get to meet them.
• You begin to love Islamic holidays because there are not only always fireworks, but no work, and thus an adventure always ensues.
• Ants are everywhere and you no longer care.