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Saturday, December 2nd, 2006


Daily life, family and religion; three shows daily under one roof. Emily and the kids were Buddhist up until a few years ago. After Emily’s father died, she converted. The Christian religion here is probably closest to Baptist. Ain’t that a frightening thought.
Hey, I’m Catholic. Our idea of faith is a quick confession, three Hail Mary’s and call me next Sunday. Churches here all seem to be of the charismatic variety. Which means, of course, that you’ve got your shouters, your shakers, your dancers, your prancers, your enthusiastic wavers and your quiet and composed prayers.
I’m the sole practitioner of a splinter religion. I’m the quiet, uncomfortable one.

Christmas Dinner
Secular kind of guy that I am, I still want some traditions in my life. One is the Christmas dinner.
The kids have had traditional Christmas dinners. Emily had her first turkey dinner on our honeymoon in Singapore. She also saw her first Lion dance when visited a cultural exposition. We celebrate Chinese New Year. We celebrate Christmas. This year we’ll have teachers and staff over to our house for Christmas dinner.

I’ve made some changes in my life. I’ve actually attended church a few times. Emily and the kids go every Sunday. I’m trying to adjust, but I have to be honest; traditional Christianity still confuses me. I’ve also been able to witness the Buddhism that’s practiced here. We’ve attended a few weddings, and a few too many funerals.
I don’t mean to imply that people are dying left and right,just that I don’t care for funerals.

Emily’s Mom, who lives with us, is Buddhist. The adjustment to such a close-knit family has been rewarding, irritating, incredible, frustrating, and ultimately highly recommended. Emily’s two sisters and her brother are also Buddhist.

Indonesia’s Buddhism is probably as fetish oriented as Korean Buddhism, with its chants, incense and rituals, but it’s somehow encouraging to see any culture survive under such adverse conditions. A full blown Buddhist funeral is quite interesting. From the chanting, to the pacing of the maidens(no I’m not kidding), to the burning of the house, money, major appliances, cars and servants. These flammable offering are, thankfully, all paper representations.

Although I’m interested in knowing more about everything, unlike other tourists in Bali I had no wish to intrude on such a personal time. I can only imagine how these gomers would feel if a crowd showed up at ol’ Aunt Tilly’s sendoff.

“Don’t mind us folks, we’re just here to soak up the culture.” “Could you lift up Aunt Tilly’s chin a bit more. Now put this wine glass …”

Weddings and other weirdness

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Weddings and other weirdness

I’m in Solo this weekend. Yes, that sentence is structured correctly. Solo is a small ciy in Central Java(Jawa Tengga). I’d love to tell you what it’s notable for, but I haven’t got a clue.
We took the train to Solo on friday morning. We being Emily,Grace,Jiji and myself.

Our little guy Wyatt is at home with his grandmother.

Perhaps it’s the home of the overdone weddings. Last night we attended the reception of Herlina and Ponco(as the Indonesian “C” is pronounced “ch”, or young groom should have been played by Eric Estrada. Google ‘Chips’,’Latin actors’,’cop shows’ and you’ll get the reference.

Herlina is a beautiful young woman who grew up with our oldest kids. This happened during Emily’s first marriage. Ponco is a handsome young man and apparently has a very large family. They were all out and singing.

Well, maybe only 12 or so were on stage and singing, plus the assorted children who sang high enough to shatter glass. One little girl had a beautiful voice, but had unfortunately been induced by Celine Dion to puncuate her performance with the excessive caterwauling that seems to go with being a diva.

Aside from Diva’s we had ex-husbands. I’m usually pretty tolerant of people and their foibles and shortcomings, as I have a large collection of each. This guy is an ass. He makes everyone uncomfortable, and seems to think he’s worth the time to get to know.
He comes over and makes to shake hands. I grimace and oblige. Then he orders my granddaughter to join him.
Does he think he actually merits her attention?
Understand that I’ve been with Jiji since the moment she was born. I was holding my daughter’s hand as she gave birth to Jiji.

Where was Mr. Biological? Who knows? Then again, had he been a stand-up guy, I likely wouldn’t have Emily is my life. Isn’t that weird?
Jiij’s eye started to twitch. I’m not a poker player,but I know Jiji’s body language. She’s very uncomfortable. She looks at me. I nod. She goes for a minute, then is back. The twitch has subsided.
We were able to ignore Mr. personality for the rest of the evening. Emily, Grace and Jiji made the rounds.

Weird number seven(were you really counting?) moment for me when I was asked to say a few words. I was handed a microphone and told I was being so honoured as I was the only ‘import’ in the crowd. I guess I didn’t screw up too badly as the bride was happy, the groom didn’t hit me and members of the crowd smiled as I walked by. Or, it could have been gas.
My personal discomfort was followed by the typical wedding a`la Vegas spectacular. Dancers,singers,costumes and red Fanta. Use your imagination.
Emily’s friends were there, but we never saw them. We had had lunch together earlier in the day. The food in this city is great. That’s something notable I suppose.
Emily’s friends were supposed to meet us at the hotel before the ceremony,but never showed up. they saw us at the ceremony,but didn’t come over. I find that weird.
We had lunch today, so if Emily found their absence weird she hides it better than I do.
After lunch yesterday we had stopped at a few markets to buy Batik, and a few gifts.

I guess Solo’s also known for beautiful silk and cotton creations. Hmmmm food,fashion and 53 kilometers from Yojakarta. Sorry,wanted to maintain the alliteration.

Tonight, we’ll have dinner again. We’ll be going out with a friend of Emily’s. She(the friend) runs a sugar warehouse and mini-mart. Her home is above it. Sounds odd. It’s not. Her home is spacious and comfortable. Think loft-space.
I just hope we’re not having sugar for dinner.

We didn’t have sugar.
I had goat chowder and Emily had Nasi Empal.
Nice. Enak … Bahasa Indonesian for Mashita.